East Coast storm to strike during peak of Christmas travel

Storms with the greatest potential to disrupt travel will focus on the East and the Northwest in the days leading up to Christmas.

Some of the best weather-related travel conditions are likely over the Southwest and over portions of the Plains through Christmas. Delays and disruptions due to weather in these areas are likely to be brief when compared to other parts of the nation.

The combination of commuter traffic around the major cities and the beginnings of holiday travel are likely to make Thursday, Dec. 20, one of the worst days to travel for the Christmas holiday this year, not including weather-related issues, according to the American Automobile Association.

A record-breaking 112.5 million are expected to travel by means ranging from their car to an airliner, bus and train, AAA stated.

The weather will contribute to delays and may cause a number of flight cancellations in parts of the nation during a percentage of the extended holiday.

Download the free AccuWeather app to see when weather might throw a wrench into your holiday travel plans.

Major rainstorm in eastern US to cause substantial travel dangers, delays

A major storm is forecast to bring drenching rain and thunderstorms beginning on Wednesday near the upper Gulf of Mexico coast.

However, the risk of slick roads is likely to expand northward from along the Interstate 10 corridor on Wednesday, Dec. 19, and encompass areas from the Southeast to part of the Midwest and Northeast by week's end.

12 PHOTOS
Winter storm blasts U.S. Southeast leaving hundreds of thousands without power
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Winter storm blasts U.S. Southeast leaving hundreds of thousands without power
A snow-covered car is parked outside a home in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South on Sunday - causing dangerously icy roads, immobilizing snowfalls and power losses. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
A man jogs with his dog down a snow-covered street in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South on Sunday - causing dangerously icy roads, immobilizing snowfalls and power losses. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Joslyn Fontanella, 8, takes a break from shoveling a walkway to taste some snow in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South on Sunday, causing dangerously icy roads, immobilizing snowfalls and power losses to hundreds of thousands of people.(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
A driver in a small car follows three snow plows down a major road in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South on Sunday - causing dangerously icy roads, immobilizing snowfalls and power losses to hundreds of thousands of people.(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Cars move slowly on a snowy Durham, N.C., street after several inches fell on Sunday Dec. 9, 2018. A storm spreading snow, sleet and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South has millions of people in its path, raising the threat of immobilizing snowfalls, icy roads and possible power outages. (AP Photo/Jonathan Drew)
A snow plow moves on a snowy Durham, N.C., street after several inches fell on Sunday Dec. 9, 2018. A storm spreading snow, sleet and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South has millions of people in its path, raising the threat of immobilizing snowfalls, icy roads and possible power outages. (AP Photo/Jonathan Drew)
A Duke Energy crew works to restore power in Raleigh, N.C,. as snow continues to fall Sunday morning, Dec. 9, 2018. A storm spreading snow, sleet and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South has millions of people in its path, raising the threat of immobilizing snowfalls, icy roads and power outages. (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP)
A couple shovels their driveway in Greensboro, N.C., Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018. A massive storm brought snow, sleet, and freezing rain across a wide swath of the South on Sunday - causing dangerously icy roads, immobilizing snowfalls and power losses to hundreds of thousands of people.(AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
SANTA ANA, CA - DECEMBER 06: A woman jumps over flowing water along East Santa Clara Avenue in Santa Ana as heavy rainfall fell throughout Orange County on Thursday, December 6, 2018. Heavy rain from a winter storm passing through Southern California flooded streets. (Photo by Mark Rightmire/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA - DECEMBER 06: A curious onlooker watches a flash flood waters from heavy rainfall rushes through Hart Park in Orange on Thursday, December 6, 2018. Heavy rain from a winter storm passing through Southern California flooded streets. (Photo by Mark Rightmire/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
COSTA MESA, CA - DECEMBER 06: Joe Suzuki paddles around submerged cars on Pomona Avenue near 17th Street in Costa Mesa, CA, on Thursday, Dec 6, 2018. Heavy rain from a winter storm passing through Southern California flooded streets. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
GARDEN GROVE, CA - DECEMBER 06: A women rides her bicycle on the sidewalk of Downie Place near Fairview Street in Garden Grove, CA, on Thursday, Dec 6, 2018. Heavy rain from a winter storm passing through Southern California flooded streets. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen/Digital First Media/Orange County Register via Getty Images)
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There is the potential for damaging thunderstorms centered on the Florida Peninsula on Thursday. 

Enough rain is likely to fall from the storm as it moves along to aggravate the small stream and river flooding situation in the Southeast and mid-Atlantic regions and may lead to urban and small stream flooding in New England.

Motorists should expect delays related to rain, fog and low-lying area flooding to become more extensive as the week draws to a close. A swath of heavy rain is likely to shift northward along the I-95 corridor from Thursday to Friday night. Philadelphia, New York City and Boston may be hit hard with heavy rain for a time.

As the storm strengthens as it travels northeastward, winds generated may become strong enough to knock over poorly rooted trees in the soggy soil.

Motorists venturing on secondary roads in wooded areas during their travels should be wary of the added risk of isolated trees coming down during the storm.

At least 16 locations in the eastern U.S. have already recorded their wettest year on record and a couple dozen more currently are experiencing the second or third wettest year on record, according to the National Weather Service.

Airline delays in the East are likely due to episodes of fog and a low cloud ceiling.

In part of the Midwest, while the same storm will bring rain initially, a change to snow is likely on the back side from the middle part of the Mississippi Valley to the Great Lakes region.

The potential for rain to change to or end as snow includes the cities of Chicago, Milwaukee and Indianapolis Thursday night into Friday; Detroit, Cleveland and Cincinnati during Friday and perhaps Pittsburgh during Friday night.

More storms to hit western US into next week

The train of storms that began to affect the Pacific coast last week will continue to blast the Northwest into early next week.

Each storm has the potential to increase the risk of flash flooding and mudslides, while rounds of snow over the high country raise the risk of avalanches.

While the coastal Northwest will be between storms on Wednesday, snow will shift inland over parts of the northern and central Rockies with wintry travel this day. Gusty winds in these areas will cause further travel difficulties at midweek.

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