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Christmas Travel Forecast: Systems in West and South Could Cause Delays This Weekend

Dec 16, 2019 12:50PM ● By Editor
By Chris Dolce of The Weather Channel - December 16, 2019

Travel delays for pre-Christmas travel could happen in the West and South this weekend, but many other parts of the country should be dry and mild.

More than 115 million travelers are expected to travel 50 miles or more from their homes for the holiday period spanning Dec. 21 through Jan. 1, according to AAA. That's the highest travel volume for the end-of-year holiday season since AAA began tracking in 2000.

Friday

Possible Trouble Spots

1. Hit-or-miss showers are possible in central and eastern Texas and along the Southeast coast. 

2. Heavy rain and mountain snow could slow down travel from the Pacific Northwest to far Northern California.

Likely No Delays

Most areas from the Southwest into the Plains, Midwest and Northeast should have good travel weather as high pressure dominates.

image
Friday's Forecast
(The green shadings depict where rain is expected. Areas that are shaded blue are expected to see snow. Purple-shaded locations may see either rain or snow. Areas in pink are expected to see sleet or freezing rain (ice).)

Saturday

Possible Trouble Spots

1. There is high confidence that rain and mountain snow will continue to impact travel in the Pacific Northwest and Northern California.

2. Parts of the East might also have delays, but that forecast is more uncertain and will depend on how a jet stream disturbance evolves. The forecast right now shows rain showers from parts of the Southeast to Virginia. Some freezing rain can't be ruled out over interior parts of Virginia and North Carolina. Changes to this part of the forecast are likely the next few days.

Likely No Delays

Much of the interior West, Plains and Midwest should have good weather for traveling. The Northeast is also forecast to be mostly dry at this time.

image
Saturday's Forecast
(The green shadings depict where rain is expected. Areas that are shaded blue are expected to see snow. Purple-shaded locations may see either rain or snow. Areas in pink are expected to see sleet or freezing rain (ice).)

Sunday

Possible Trouble Spots

1. At least some rain and mountain snow will continue along the West Coast. This wet weather could extend as far south as Southern California.

2. Rain might continue in the Southeast, but that will depend on how fast the previously mentioned jet stream disturbance exits the region. A few snow showers are not out of the question in northern New England and upstate New York.

Likely No Delays

Areas from the interior West to the Plains and Midwest will once again enjoy good travel conditions. Temperatures in those regions will also be 5 to 20 degrees above average for late December.

image
Sunday's Forecast
(The green shadings depict where rain is expected. Areas that are shaded blue are expected to see snow. Purple-shaded locations may see either rain or snow. Areas in pink are expected to see sleet or freezing rain (ice).)

Early Christmas Week Outlook

The weather pattern early next week into Christmas Day could allow many areas to have good travel conditions and mild temperatures.

A southward plunge of the jet stream is forecast to set up near the West Coast. That will allow the jet stream to build northward in parts of the central and eastern United States.

General Weather Pattern Early Next Week

This means most areas in the eastern U.S. should have dry weather early next week. That's because the northward-bulging jet stream over the region is expected to block any major storm systems from pushing eastward.

The highest odds for above average precipitation will continue in parts of the West, according to NOAA's outlook below for Dec. 21 to 25. But we cannot rule out some of the Western storminess moving into the central U.S. by around Christmas Day or afterward.

image
6- to 10-Day Precipitation Outlook
(This outlook from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center shows the probabilities of above (green contours) or below (brown contours) average precipitation in the period specified. )

This weather pattern will also increase odds of warmer than average temperatures next week in many parts of the country. Much of the Lower 48 has at least a 33% chance of above average temperatures Dec. 21 to 25, according to NOAA.


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