Wednesday, March 22, 2023

When will the winter storm end? This is when travel conditions will be eased

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Travel remained significantly at risk across the country on Friday as an Arctic front and winter storm brought freezing rain, plummeting temperatures and strong winds to the East and stormy conditions over parts of the Great Lakes. The falling snow that snarled travel in the Midwest and Ohio Valley on Thursday has largely subsided, but blowing snow will continue to hamper air travel and create low visibility for motorists through Saturday.

The number of flight cancellations and delays at US airports continued to climb as of midday Friday, with more than 5,000 delays and 4,000 cancellations. So when will things start to improve?

Here’s a regional breakdown of expected travel conditions over the next few days and over the New Year’s weekend.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast: Gradual weekend improvement, but cold

The Arctic front and the risk of a quick freeze moves up the Interstate 95 corridor on Friday, reaching New York City by mid-to-late afternoon and Boston this evening.

Strong winds before and during the frontal passage may contribute to flight delays and cancellations, but should also dry out much of the moisture on major routes before subfreezing temperatures arrive soon after, as was the case when the front passed through the Washington, DC, area on Friday. morning. However, there may be enough wet patches and puddles for black ice to form, especially on side roads, pavements and roads north and west of urban centres.

Air travel and road conditions should improve greatly this weekend across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, despite cooler temperatures, as winds ease somewhat, with no precipitation expected. Rail disruption on the northeast corridor due to wind, downed trees and flooding should be improved this weekend as well.

Midwest and Great Lakes: Lake-effect snow could last into Christmas

Most of the snowfall has ended, except for places along the southern and eastern shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, where cities including Cleveland and Rochester, NY, will continue to see lake-effect snowfall through the weekend. .

How the size and depth of the Great Lakes affect the amount of snow

It will be more than just snow in Buffalo, where 2 feet or more of snow overnight Saturday will continue to cripple all forms of travel to, from and around the Buffalo area. A few more inches of lake-effect snow could also fall overnight Saturday along the eastern side of Lake Michigan, including in Grand Rapids, Mich., and South Bend, Ind.

Blowing existing snow, as opposed to new falling snow, is forecast to continue across much of the Midwest and Great Lakes through Saturday before easing for Christmas Day. Blowing snow, though likely patchy and not widespread, could reduce visibility and cause additional flight delays and cancellations in major hubs including Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis. Accumulated areas of blowing snow may also reduce road visibility through Saturday in the upper-middle and northern parts of the Ohio Valley, as far south as Des Moines; Indianapolis; Columbus, Ohio; and Pittsburgh.

Blowing snow and frigid temperatures could continue to hamper rail service in the Midwest and Great Lakes, with some routes already canceled through the weekend.

Pacific Northwest: Storms through the weekend

Outside of the Great Lakes, the weather should be better for most of the country. An exception is the Pacific Northwest, where precipitation that started as freezing Friday continues through the weekend as periods of occasional heavy rain. That could mean more problems for flights in and out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, which was seeing the most delays and cancellations of any airport in the world as of midday Friday, according to FlightAware.

Travel in and around Portland, Ore., is likely to be affected by freezing rain Friday afternoon and night, followed by periods of occasionally heavy rain this weekend.

A meltdown next week on New Year’s weekend

Heavy rain is a travel concern for the Pacific Northwest and Northern California early next week, but the weather should be relatively calm and dry most of the week across much of the country.

Over the next week, temperatures will trend from below average to above average across most of the lower 48 states.

Scientists say warming Arctic may be to blame for extreme cold outbreaks

Another storm could affect travel next weekend from the Gulf Coast to the Midwest and East Coast. But this time the precipitation will almost certainly be in the form of rain, with temperatures potentially 15 to 25 degrees above normal, which would translate into daytime highs in the 50s and 60s across much of the eastern half of the country.

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