Pre-Christmas Storm Could Disrupt Holiday Travel

It won’t be a classic Nor’Easter, but certainly a storm that could disrupt travel for millions of Americans. Rather than moving up along the coast and blasting the “big cities” of New England with snow, this storm will likely take a route further inland through the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys Monday and Tuesday, eventually stalling over the Great Lakes through Christmas Day. It could also impact travel in the Southeast U.S., including here in the state of Florida, Monday and Tuesday.

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Florida Impacts

Sunday Night and Monday: The early stages of this storm system will be marked by off and on showers moving along a stalled front (the same one that brings low rain chances this weekend) beginning Sunday night. A period of steadier and heavier rain will be possible as a disturbance moves along this front overnight and early Monday.  The rain is then expected to taper off some Monday afternoon, with only a few light showers lingering through evening.  Total rainfall with this first wave will average around a half an inch in most areas.

Tuesday: Monday’s wave of precipitation will leave behind a rather humid air mass, setting the stage for a round of heavier rain and possible thunderstorms on Tuesday and/or Tuesday night.  A storm system is forecast strengthen over the Tennessee Valley Tuesday, sending a rather strong cold front southeast into the state by early Wednesday morning.  Ahead of this front, warm and humid air will be surging in and clashing with the southward advancement of cold air behind the storm.  As a result, thunderstorms with heavy rain could become widespread ahead of the front Tuesday, or Tuesday night when the front arrives.  At the present time, forecast data is not conclusive on whether or not there will be a threat for severe weather with the storms in North-Central Florida, but it certainly can not be ruled out with a storm system this strong.

Those planning holiday travels on Monday or Tuesday in the Sunshine State should plan on some inconveniences from the rain and are encouraged to stay informed of possible stronger thunderstorm activity and associated hazards on the roadways.  WRUF Weather will be fully staffed through the holiday and have updates every 10 minutes on WRUF-TV or alerts on Twitter @WRUFWeather.

Animation of how next week's weather map could look with a developing storm for the Southeast US and Ohio Valley.

Animation of how next week’s weather map could look with a developing storm for the Southeast US and Ohio Valley.

Midwest and Northeast Impacts

Heavy rain and thunderstorms will be mainly just an inconvenience to Floridians Monday and Tuesday on the highways.  However, those planning to travel by air may find it more challenging thanks to the developing storm.  Even though significant wintry precipitation is not expected at any of the major airport hubs in the Northeast, other cities with busy airports in the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes states could have delays from wind and snow.  Cities most likely to experience the trouble are Minneapolis and Chicago on Tuesday, followed by Detroit, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Cleveland on Wednesday.  It’s not out of the question that heavy rain and wind could also cause a few slow-ups on Tuesday and Wednesday in Atlanta, Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York and Boston.  By Christmas Eve night, the storm is expected to weaken and pull slowly away into southeast Canada, hopefully allowing air travel to return to normal in time for everyone to reach their destination by Christmas morning.

Anyone flying Monday through Wednesday of next week is strongly encouraged to check ahead with their air carrier for possible earlier flights and potential delays.  WRUF Weather will be monitoring the situation closely and provide updates throughout the weekend.