Two powerful storms thrash U.S. as millions head to Thanksgiving celebrations

Nov 27 (Reuters) - Two major winter storms thrashing the western two-thirds of the United States on Wednesday appear set to disrupt the travel plans of millions of Americans headed to Thanksgiving Day destinations on jam-packed highways and airplanes.

The first storm front was moving across the upper Midwest, where it was forecast to clobber parts of Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota with almost a foot of snow (30 cm) and wind gusts of up to 50 mph (80 kph), making travel difficult if not impossible, the National Weather Service (NWS) said.

It also warned of possible winds of up to 60 mph (95 kph) and rainstorms across a wide swath of the central U.S. from western Texas up through Missouri and into Ohio on Wednesday, as millions will hit the roads and board airplanes for the holiday.

The treacherous weather jeopardized travel plans for some of the 55 million Americans expected to fly or drive at least 50 miles (80 km) from their homes for Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday, according to the American Automobile Association.

Related: Thanksgiving travel across the U.S.

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Thanksgiving travel across the U.S.
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Thanksgiving travel across the U.S.
Travellers make their way to board trains at Pennsylvania Station in New York, U.S., November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
An Amtrak police officer and dog patrol inside Pennsylvania Station in New York, U.S., November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
People wait for information to board trains at Pennsylvania Station in New York, U.S., November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
People wait for the bus the day before Thanksgiving in New York, New York, U.S., November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
People wait for the bus the day before Thanksgiving in New York, New York, U.S., November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Amtrak police officers patrol inside Pennsylvania Station in New York, U.S., November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
People wait for the bus the day before Thanksgiving in New York, New York, U.S., November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
People wait in line to board an Amtrak train at Pennsylvania Station in New York, U.S., November 21, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Travelers go through O'Hare International Airport before the Thanksgiving Day holiday in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
A traffic jam is seen at the O'Hare International Airport before the Thanksgiving Day holiday in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
Travelers go through O'Hare International Airport before the Thanksgiving Day holiday in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
Travelers go through O'Hare International Airport before the Thanksgiving Day holiday in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
Travelers arrive at O'Hare International Airport before departing for the Thanksgiving Day holiday in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
Cars fill the roads as people travel before the Thanksgiving Day holiday in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
Cars fill the road as people travel before the Thanksgiving Day holiday in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
A man runs though Grand Central Terminal in New York, New York, U.S., November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Automobiles drive in heavy traffic along the Long Island Expressway in the Queens borough of New York, U.S., November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
A tourist bus with a picture of a Native American pulls away from Union Station train and bus terminal as travelers stand in the drop-off lanes in Washington, U.S. November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
People carry their luggage in the Delta air terminal at LaGuardia Airport in New York, U.S., November 20, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton
Travelers wait for Amtrak trains to be called, ahead of the Thanksgiving Day holiday, at Pennsylvania Station in New York City, U.S., November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Travelers wait for Amtrak trains to be called, ahead of the Thanksgiving Day holiday, at Pennsylvania Station in New York City, U.S., November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Passengers wait to board an Amtrak trains ahead of the Thanksgiving Day holiday, at Pennsylvania Station in New York City, U.S., November 22, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Travelers walk through Terminal 3 at O'Hare Airport before the busy Thanksgiving Day weekend in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 21, 2017. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
Travelers are stuck in a traffic jam as people hit the road before the busy Thanksgiving Day weekend in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 21, 2017. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
Travelers are stuck in a traffic jam as people hit the road before the busy Thanksgiving Day weekend in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., November 21, 2017. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
A traveler wheels his luggage through Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Thanksgiving in Atlanta, Thursday, Nov. 22, 2018. The AAA auto club predicts that 54.3 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home between Wednesday and Sunday during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Travelers line up for a security checkpoint at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in New York. The airline industry trade group Airlines for America expects that Wednesday will be the second busiest day of the holiday period behind only Sunday, when many travelers will be returning home after Thanksgiving. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
In this photo taken with a long exposure, traffic streaks across the John F. Kennedy Expressway at the start of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in Chicago. Mild weather and falling gasoline prices are helping Thanksgiving travelers get where they're going while saving a few bucks. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
Travelers enter a cab at a cab stand in Denver International Airport Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in Denver. Mild weather in parts of the country and lower gasoline prices have potentially created one of the busiest Thanksgiving Day travel periods since 2005, according to AAA. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Travelers wait in long lines to pass through a security checkpoint in Denver International Airport Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in Denver. Mild weather in parts of the country and lower gasoline prices have potentially created one of the busiest Thanksgiving Day travel periods since 2005, according to AAA. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Women exchange farewells at the curbside baggage checkpoint outside the west gates of Denver International Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in Denver. Mild weather in parts of the country and lower gasoline prices have potentially created one of the busiest Thanksgiving Day travel periods since 2005, according to AAA. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Travelers wait in long lines to pass through a security checkpoint in Denver International Airport Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in Denver. Mild weather in parts of the country and lower gasoline prices have potentially created one of the busiest Thanksgiving Day travel periods since 2005, according to AAA. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Travelers check in for flights at Orlando International Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in Orlando, Fla., before the start of the Thanksgiving holiday. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Travelers wait in line to go through a security checkpoint at Orlando International Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in Orlando, Fla., before the start of the Thanksgiving holiday (AP Photo/John Raoux)
A couple kisses as they make their way down the escalator as they leave Indianapolis International Airport in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018. The airline industry trade group Airlines for America expects that Wednesday will be the second busiest day of the holiday period behind only Sunday, when many travelers will be returning home after Thanksgiving.(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
In this photo taken with a long exposure, traffic streaks across the John F. Kennedy Expressway at the start of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in Chicago. Mild weather and falling gasoline prices are helping Thanksgiving travelers get where they're going while saving a few bucks. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
Travelers check in for flights at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in New York. The airline industry trade group Airlines for America expects that Wednesday will be the second busiest day of the holiday period behind only Sunday, when many travelers will be returning home after Thanksgiving. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
A traveler with her dog walk next to the moving walkway to the terminal at Washington Reagan National Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018, in Arlington, Va. The airline industry trade group Airlines for America expects that Wednesday will be the second busiest day of the holiday period behind only Sunday, when many travelers will be returning home after Thanksgiving. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
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"It's a real bummer," said Ally Lytle, a 20-year-old student at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, who will be unable to make 400-mile (645-km) road trip home to Jackson Hole after the storm swept through the area on Tuesday.

The storm had already closed highways across the region and canceled and delayed hundreds of flights in and out of Denver on Tuesday.

Wind gusts of more than 40 mph (65 kph) on the East Coast on Thursday may also ground the giant balloons featured during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, the weather service said in an advisory.

"Look, I know this weather means people won’t get to see their families, might be stranded in airports, etc, and all of that is awful," said Susan Arendt on Twitter. "But I’ll be really sad if the wind means no balloons in the Macy’s parade."

The second storm was rapidly intensifying as it pushed toward Oregon and northern California, where damaging winds, coastal flooding and heavy mountain snows of up to 4 feet (120 cm) were forecast, the NWS said.

The front was also expected to dump heavy rain, threatening flash floods across southern California, from San Diego to Los Angeles, the weather service said. (Reporting by Brendan O'Brien in Chicago; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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