US Christmas travel: Snow to slick roads from Great Lakes to Northeast, rain to cause delays in Northwest

By: Jordan Root,

Those planning on hitting the road early this year to head to their Christmas destination may face weather issues.

According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), more than 103 million Americans are expected to travel during the period from Friday, Dec. 23, to Monday, Jan. 2, the most on record.

Some areas of the country will be at a higher risk of travel delays and dangers.

A quick-moving storm system will cause slick roads and travel delays from the Midwest to the Northeast.

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Travel in the Northwest will once again be impaired as several storm systems take aim at the end of the week.

Snow showers to slow travel across Great Lakes, interior Northeast

A quick-moving storm system may help spark lake-effect snow for a time on Thursday into Friday in the interior Northeast.

A brief shot of cold air will follow in the wake of this storm system and help send snow showers downwind of the Great Lakes.

Folks traveling near the Great Lakes may encounter fast-changing weather conditions. The most intense snow showers could bring brief but dangerous whiteouts and quick road accumulations. However, accumulations are not expected to rival those of last week.

The storm will spread a swath of snow across the upper Midwest on Wednesday, before charging into the Northeast.

Farther east, mild air will hold on longer and bring mostly rain from the mid-Atlantic to southern New England on Thursday. Dreary and wet conditions may slow some travel across the region.

"Some light rain may slow travel at the major airport hubs in the Northeast, including Boston, New York City and Washington D.C.," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said.

Across New England, cold air will rush in fast enough for some rain to briefly change over to snow. This could result in some slick spots on untreated roadways.

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Friday, Dec. 23 may be the busiest Christmas travel day and weather conditions are expected to improve for many across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic as the storm system speeds off.

"Ground and air travel along the the East Coast looks better on Friday with dry weather up and down the I-95 corridor," Pydynowski said.

Dry weather and sunshine will return and will make for better travel conditions across the entire region.

Northwest to turn unsettled as snow and rain disrupts travel

Following a brief break Wednesday, the Northwest will turn unsettled again with another storm system passing through at the end of the week.

A surge of Pacific moisture will lead to steady rain and clouds along the I-5 corridor from Seattle to Portland.

"The arrival of rain could slow travel and lead to air travel delays in Portland and Seattle," Pydynowski said.

I-84, I-90 and other connecting highways may also feature slow travel and delays.

Heavy snow will fall across the Cascades. Lower snow levels late Thursday will bring hazardous travel to those traveling by vehicle over the mountains.

The heaviest snow will fall Thursday into Thursday night and approach a foot across the Washington Cascades. Snow will expand into the Bitterroots and Tetons Thursday night.

Travel issues are expected to linger across the Northwest Friday but also expand farther eastward.

"Some light snow and flurries may cause air travel delays in Denver and Salt Lake City Friday," Pydynowski said.

A gusty breeze could also present steering issues across the High Plains, especially for high-profile vehicles.

While noticeably lighter, rain will keep roadways wet around Seattle and Portland on Friday.

Mainly dry weather to stretch across the Southeast

A cold front will push across the Southeast on Thursday. How much moisture is still present will determine whether travelers will have to deal with any wet roads and lowered visibility.

In the absence of any rain, travelers will see a mixture of sun and clouds on Thursday.

On Friday, the front will linger across Florida, but nothing more than a spotty shower will occur.

High pressure will dominate the region on Friday with plenty of sunshine and ideal travel weather.