Winter Storm Boreas Dampens Holiday Travel Across US

by Jana Ritter - Published: 11/26/2013

Winter Storm Boreas, already blamed for at least fourteen deaths, is a massive storm that will impact the nation from coast to coast with rain, snow, sleet, and ice during the busiest travel week of the year.

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Bringing a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain to parts of Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas on Monday, the storm is expected to trudge east this Thanksgiving week. Meteorologists say they expect the Arctic mass to head south and east and threaten plans for Tuesday and Wednesday as people hit the roads and airports for some of the busiest travel days of the year.  "Before this is over, Winter Storm Boreas will have impacted 100 million people," said The Weather Channel's winter weather expert Tom Niziol.

Nearly 300 American Airlines and American Eagle flights were canceled in and out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Monday due to the weather, spokeswoman Laura Masvidal said, mirroring disruptions at the air hub a day earlier. Some of the country's busiest airports - New York, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Boston and Charlotte, N.C. - could see big delays.

"When we get into mid-week, as this system combines with cold air in the Northeast, it will produce a lot of rain along I-95," said Niziol. "From Western Penn. to Rochester, N.Y. as much as 8 to 12 inches of snow could fall."

As of Monday night, Boreas was blamed for at least 14 total deaths in five states. Most of the fatalities were tied to traffic accidents and the icy roads has led to hundreds more accidents. On Monday, the storm brought a mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain to parts of Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, southern Kansas and Texas. But as the storm continues east, there are fears of heavy rain along the busy Interstate 95 corridor and sleet, freezing rain and snow away from the coast and at higher elevations.

Tom Kines, a meteorologist with AccuWeather, said it will be "primarily a rain event" for the East Coast, with up to three inches of rain dousing travelers. "The further inland you get — especially as you get into that higher terrain — you are going to deal with frozen precipitation," Kines said. Snow could fall in western Pennsylvania and the interior of New England. Up to 9 inches could blanket northern parts of West Virginia, where the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning from Tuesday morning through Wednesday afternoon.

Ninety percent of travelers this week will drive, according to AAA, and an estimated 38.9 million people — 1.6 percent fewer than last year — are expected to drive 50 miles or more from their home.

The ATA reminds all drivers that weather conditions across the U.S. will be changing - especially during early mornings and evenings with the cold. Watch for ice, snow and other weather related obstacles and to always keep your eyes on the road. Try to avoid driving through extreme weather conditions, and travel during daylight.