Do you have any travel plans for Friday? It might be time to move them up a day or two, or to push them back to Saturday afternoon.
A powerful late-week storm has already caused a number of airlines to waive change fees before a mix of rain and snow is dumped on a large swath of the United States, with the New York area set to be punished with whipping rains and rough winds before temperatures plummet to dangerously low levels.
Wednesday is the calm before the storm, as high pressure will hang around and keep us cool and dry for a little while longer. Thursday afternoon brings rain and breezy conditions. The rain becomes heavier at night and will continue until Friday morning.
All of that rain could cause flooding. A coastal flood watch has been issued for the city and Long Island, as well as the shorelines of Connecticut and northeastern New Jersey. Friday morning’s forecast calls for widespread moderate to locally major coastal flooding, with several feet of inundation possible in low-lying areas.
The bad weather will continue through Friday, with winds gusting over 50 mph and downpours. This combination could result in property damage, power outages, and, perhaps most importantly, travel issues.
Snow is also possible as the storm moves away, mainly in higher elevations and only briefly. With temperatures in the mid-40s in the city and along the coast, the white stuff will largely avoid the five boroughs.
Then things start to get really bad. And by ugly, we mean cold.
We anticipate a dramatic, and potentially dangerous, temperature drop Friday afternoon. The city, for example, will be near 50 degrees at 3 p.m. Friday and will drop below freezing within three to four hours. Wind chills will be at or below zero before dark. Because of the flash freeze, any wet surfaces, including roadways, could quickly turn to ice by the time many people get on the road early Christmas Eve.
Temperatures aren’t expected to reach freezing – even as a high – until next Tuesday at the earliest.
Drivers and pedestrians alike should exercise extreme caution, as roads and sidewalks are likely to be as slick as ice rinks at times over the holiday weekend. While the rain will have stopped by Saturday, travel that morning could be hazardous.
Airlines are preparing for potential weather-related problems. United Airlines issued an alert for the East Coast.
Anyone planning to travel on United flights between December 22 and December 25 will not be charged change fees or fare differences as long as they travel in the originally ticketed cabin and purchase their ticket before December 18. The rebooking period is from December 22 to December 28.
Due to the significant Midwest snow, American Airlines has also issued a travel alert, and JetBlue has announced that it will waive change and cancellation fees for those flying to or from Chicago, Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Alerts may change depending on the weather and airline, so travellers should check with their carriers.
The Holiday Travel Disaster
Anyone looking to fly out of the tri-state before the holiday should expect airport delays beginning Thursday evening, and it may be worth checking to see if it’s possible to fly out before then. Not only will the wind and rain cause problems locally, but areas in the Midwest will be hit with snow. Even if you’re flying elsewhere in the country, the weather will have a domino effect on all flights, so keep an eye on your airline to see how the weather affects your flight.
Rain (including possible thunderstorms) and wind will most likely cause airport and travel delays on Friday.
It’ll be cold through Christmas and possibly beyond, prompting Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont to activate the state’s severe cold weather protocol. The skies will be sunny, but the winds will be strong, keeping the feel-like temperatures below zero in most areas.
But there is some good news: we should get back above freezing before the end of the year, with highs of 40 degrees predicted for December 29. It’s still too early to predict the New Year’s Eve forecast, and much could change as this week’s storm develops. Keep an eye on Storm Team 4 for updates.