Powerful storm threatens to disrupt busiest travel weekend

The National Weather Service alerted that travel could become impossible in some places.

Posted: Nov 29, 2019 1:18 PM
Updated: Nov 29, 2019 3:10 PM

A powerful storm making its way east from California is threatening major disruptions during the year’s busiest travel weekend, as forecasters warned that intensifying snow and ice could thwart millions across the country hoping to get home after Thanksgiving.

The storm has already shut down highways in the western U.S., stranding drivers in California and prompting authorities in Arizona to plead with travelers to wait out the weather before attempting to travel.

The storm is expected to track east through the weekend — into the Plains on Friday, the Midwest by Saturday and the Northeast on Sunday — pummeling a huge portion of the country with snow, ice or flash flooding.

The National Weather Service alerted that travel could become impossible in some places.

The agency issued storm warnings Friday for a swath of the country stretching from Montana to Nebraska to Wisconsin, with heavy snow anticipated in parts of Utah, Colorado, Montana and Wyoming.

One hopeful traveler asked the weather service Friday on Twitter whether it would be advisable to drive to Duluth, Minnesota, over the weekend. The agency warned: “If you are in Duluth by tonight, you will likely be stuck there until at least Sunday afternoon due to heavy snow and blizzard conditions.”

The weather threatened to be particularly disruptive on Sunday, when millions of holiday travelers start home. Airlines for America, the airline industry’s trade group, expects 3.1 million passengers during what could be the busiest day ever recorded for American air travel.

The group estimated a record of 31.6 million people will travel over a 12-day holiday period. Airlines on Friday said they were so far operating as usual as they monitor the weather. American Airlines issued weather-related waivers Friday for just one airport: Rapid City, South Dakota.

Sections of the state were under a blizzard warning and could see howling winds and as much as 2 feet of snow. The South Dakota Highway Patrol posted a photo on Facebook of a semi-truck that veered from Interstate 90 near Rapid City. "Do not travel if you don't have to!" the agency wrote.

Karlee Wilkinson, a 22-year-old college student in Long Beach, California, missed a Thanksgiving gathering entirely because of snow on the way to her destination.

She and her roommate left late Thursday morning for what was supposed to be a two-hour drive. But the snow started falling in flakes bigger than she’d ever seen, the highway became gridlocked, and their car kept overheating.

At first it seemed like an adventure: They made snowmen in the highway median. But when the sun set, the temperature dropped, and they decided to turn around and head home. Their Thanksgiving dinner was chicken nuggets from a fast food drive-through.

“This is not how this is supposed to go, this is not what an American Thanksgiving is supposed to be,” Wilkinson said. “It can only get better than this. I’ll never have a worse Thanksgiving, knock on wood.”

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 173626

Reported Deaths: 2457
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah34641566
Washington23309229
Marion20037299
Clackamas15216204
Lane11478144
Jackson9846127
Umatilla795383
Deschutes698772
Linn410763
Yamhill407074
Malheur342558
Polk341752
Klamath340859
Josephine304262
Douglas302765
Benton272518
Jefferson205932
Coos196631
Columbia153326
Union141124
Lincoln129720
Wasco128628
Hood River112429
Morrow107815
Clatsop8838
Crook86819
Baker85114
Curry5919
Tillamook5763
Lake4137
Grant4044
Harney3046
Wallowa1575
Sherman570
Gilliam551
Wheeler251
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3714587

Reported Deaths: 60922
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles122811823601
Riverside2972154525
San Bernardino2944644544
San Diego2745663662
Orange2687624886
Santa Clara1167722013
Kern1077641317
Sacramento1010581646
Fresno1004311642
Alameda850891475
Ventura802301000
San Joaquin714311334
Contra Costa66839781
Stanislaus603061028
Tulare49383829
Monterey43260352
San Mateo41050560
San Francisco35947517
Santa Barbara33830446
Solano31875239
Merced31196452
Sonoma29632311
Imperial27920718
Kings22755245
Placer21751283
San Luis Obispo20917256
Madera16234239
Santa Cruz15554203
Marin13851226
Yolo13547199
Shasta11677217
Butte11529196
El Dorado9688109
Napa965479
Sutter9268109
Yuba609844
San Benito596963
Lassen566624
Tehama543056
Nevada444775
Tuolumne406664
Mendocino398747
Amador361646
Humboldt358737
Lake339943
Glenn235425
Colusa219216
Calaveras205551
Siskiyou194021
Inyo141738
Del Norte12747
Mono12734
Plumas6906
Modoc4884
Mariposa4197
Trinity3985
Sierra1100
Alpine880
Unassigned610
Medford
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