Significant Thanksgiving-week storm will disrupt travel with rain, snow and severe storms

A significant storm will deal a blow to Thanksgiving travel this week, with rain, snow and even severe thunderstorms set to impact a large portion of the US.

This week is expected to be the busiest in years on the roads and airports could set new records – meaning this week’s headache-inducing weather could not come at a worse time.

Severe thunderstorms in South on Monday

The havoc-wreaking system will track from the southern Plains into the Mississippi Valley on Monday and spread rain across much of the central US. Fortunately for any early week travelers, this rain is not expected to be heavy in most areas.

But a different threat has emerged and could snarl travel for portions of the Gulf Coast late Monday afternoon as the storm moves east: severe thunderstorms, including possible tornadoes. Severe weather, while more common in the spring, can happen any time of the year if there’s enough warmth and moisture in the air.

Damaging thunderstorms fired up Monday afternoon in east Texas, where the atmosphere is primed with plenty of moisture and warmth. These storms will track across Louisiana, Arkansas and push into Mississippi from Monday evening into early Tuesday morning.

Damaging winds and hail are likely within any of Monday’s severe thunderstorms. Several tornadoes are also possible, especially across Louisiana and Mississippi.

Potential travel woes grow Tuesday

A fresh input of atmospheric energy and a robust surge of moisture will charge up the storm’s impacts Tuesday and usher in the most widespread, impactful weather of the week.

The issues will start early Tuesday morning in the Southeast, where the severe thunderstorm threat will be highest in southern Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. Storms could unload damaging wind gusts and perhaps a tornado.

Rain will expand east throughout Tuesday and spread into parts of the mid-Atlantic and the Southeast, where it will fall heavily at times. This heavy rainfall is unlikely to result in widespread flooding, but may pond on some roadways or in low-lying areas.

The forecast for travel impacts due to weather on Tuesday, November 21, 2023. - CNN Weather
The forecast for travel impacts due to weather on Tuesday, November 21, 2023. - CNN Weather

Breezy conditions will develop across the East on Tuesday, especially in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic. The combination of gusty winds and drenching rain may lead to disruptions in airport operations for large hubs in New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

Wintry weather will present another challenge for holiday travelers in parts of the Northeast on Tuesday. Rain will mix with sleet and snow when precipitation begins across the elevated terrain of Pennsylvania Tuesday morning and southern New York by Tuesday afternoon.

This wintry mix will expand into parts of Vermont and New Hampshire Tuesday evening and turn mostly to snow in some areas Tuesday night.

Accumulating snow Tuesday night will largely be confined to the highest elevations of the Adirondacks and the Green and White mountains.

Snow could snarl travel in New England Wednesday

The forecast for travel impacts due to weather on Wednesday, November 22, 2023. - CNN Weather
The forecast for travel impacts due to weather on Wednesday, November 22, 2023. - CNN Weather

Weather travel disruptions may not be as widespread on Wednesday as the storm slowly tracks off the East Coast and inland impacts start to diminish.

Roadways may be slick or snow-covered in parts of New York, Vermont and New Hampshire Wednesday morning following Tuesday night’s wintry weather. More accumulating snow will arrive in Maine on Wednesday as a wintry mix continues across Vermont and New Hampshire.

Rain will taper off throughout the day across Pennsylvania, New Jersey and much of New York, but will persist across the Carolinas and parts of the Southeast.

For travelers across the West, the weather will be perfect for travel on Tuesday and Wednesday with high pressure in control across almost the entire region.

Dry for most on Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving will be much cooler and largely dry across the central and eastern US as chilly Canadian air settles into place in the wake of the storm. However, this influx of cold air will cause lake-effect snow showers to develop downwind of the Great Lakes.

Dry weather is expected for the annual Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City on Thursday morning, but some breezy conditions may persist. The parade’s famous balloons are typically flown closer to the ground on a breezy day and higher off the ground on a calm day.

Elsewhere, a few rain showers may push across coastal Texas while in the West some mountain snow could bring fresh powder to high elevations in the northern Rockies.

Quieter weather for the return trip?

Weather conditions will generally be calmer for travelers across the eastern half of the US heading home after Thanksgiving festivities on Friday, but the weekend may not be dry.

Another storm may develop and move off the East Coast over the weekend. Rain and potential wintry weather is possible across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast. It’s still too early to know exactly how, or even if, this storm develops, but details will come into focus by midweek.

Travelers in the West should be treated another stretch of favorable conditions as high pressure remains in place.

For more CNN news and newsletters create an account at