Snow squalls to threaten dangerous travel in Northeast on busiest travel day of the year

Travelers going to and from the Northeast on Wednesday could wind up battling wintry weather.

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving has long been denoted as one of the busiest travel days of the year, with people going near and far to reach loved ones for the holiday.

While much of the country will experience dry or quiet travel conditions on Wednesday, the Northeast could be an exception.

The swath of snow will stretch from the Upper Midwest and the Great Lakes on Tuesday night through much of the Northeast on Wednesday.

"The biggest concern for snow squalls will be from southeastern Ontario in Canada, to central and western New York and northern and western Pennsylvania," said AccuWeather Meteorologist Brian Thompson.


Communities such as Erie and State College, Pennsylvania, as well as Buffalo, Syracuse and Binghamton, New York, are among the most likely to see squalls of snow. Snow squalls can be explained as the wintertime equivalent of summertime thunderstorms, bringing intense bursts of snowfall to a small area.

Because of this, both road conditions and visibility can change rapidly, impacting drivers on the roads for Wednesday.

"Given that Wednesday is a busy travel day, motorists traveling along I-80, I-90, I-79 and I-86 will want to stay alert for rapidly deteriorating conditions," added Thompson.

In addition to secondary roadways, parts of I-81 and I-87 could all experience a heavier burst of snow.

Normal visibility can suddenly be replaced by wind-whipped snow and white-out conditions as a heavy burst of snow moves in, making it hard to see even a few feet in front of your vehicle.

Additionally, a quick covering of snow can abruptly lead to slippery road conditions.

Sudden braking can cause vehicles to slide, inadvertently creating accidents on the roads. These conditions are often the perfect recipe for multi-vehicle pileups.

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Drivers should remain alert in areas where snow squalls are likely. Safe driving practices include reducing speed ahead of a heavier squall and leaving plenty of space between your car and the vehicle in front of you.

By the end of the day on Wednesday, it will be possible for some of these snow showers to reach parts of the Interstate 95 corridor, especially in New England. Snow will likely be less widespread by this time; however, just a quick localized burst of snow can lead to accidents and delays very quickly.

At the same time, periods of snow will occur across northern New England, creating difficult travel conditions across northern New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, western Massachusetts and Maine.

Conditions in these areas are less likely to change abruptly. However, wintry weather can still create difficult travel.

Those traveling to or from airports across the Northeast could also experience delays due to reduced visibility. Any long-endurance delays could create cascading delays at other major hubs across the country, even those areas that are not anticipating adverse weather on Wednesday.


To stay up to date on when snow will be arriving in your area, be sure to check AccuWeather MinuteCast® for your exact location. Downloading the free AccuWeather app will allow you to check MinuteCast® on the go.

This wave of snow will not only bring tricky travel conditions, but it will also open the door for arctic air to enter the Northeast just in time for Thanksgiving.

Temperatures will plummet Wednesday night across the Northeast, setting up the coldest Thanksgiving in years for many in the Northeast.

The sudden drop in temperature will refreeze any melted snow or wet areas, creating slick conditions on untreated surfaces.

The deep freeze will be noticeable even in places where less snow is expected. This includes New York City, where the biting wind in combination for the cold could make for frigid conditions at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The cold air will linger into Thursday night and early Friday, bringing dangerously cold conditions for those out shopping for Black Friday.