As millions of Thanksgiving travelers head home this weekend, a majority of the United States will be free of weather-related disruptions with only a few trouble spots.
Folks heading to, from or who have connections through the Upper Midwest, interior Northeast and Pacific states will face the greatest risk of slower travel and delays this weekend.
A brief period of lake-effect snow will fall from Saturday to Sunday as a fresh blast of cold air sweeps across the Midwest and Northeast.
The advancing chill will first be marked by showers across the northern Plains and western Great Lakes on Black Friday. The damp weather will mainly be a nuisance to shoppers and those getting a head start on the journey home.
As this system sweeps to the east, a burst of lake-effect snow will begin downwind of lakes Superior and Michigan early Saturday. Snow showers will then stream off lakes Erie and Ontario later in the day.
“For the most part, accumulating snow will occur in narrow zones and only affect a fraction of the region,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said. “A few inches of snow may fall where the bands of lake-effect snow persist.”
“Motorists venturing along portions of Interstate 75, I-79, I-80, I-81, I-90 and I-196 may encounter sudden changes in visibility due to snow squalls,” he added.
The snow will quickly end from west to east over the weekend.
The storm that will douse the Pacific Northwest with rain and wind on Thanksgiving will give way to relatively drier conditions on Black Friday.
However, a new storm is poised to arrive late Saturday into Sunday.
“Areas of Northern California that were missed by this week’s storms will receive soaking downpours by the latter half of the weekend,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Kyle Elliott said.
Motorists on stretches of I-5 may be forced to slow down to avoid hydroplaning. Airline passengers traveling to or from Seattle, Portland and San Francisco could face delays.
The threat of localized flooding will be highest in areas that were doused by storms this week.
As chilly air invades with the storm, snow levels will drop by several thousand feet into Monday, causing rain to change to snow in the highest elevations of the Washington and Oregon Cascades, as well as the Sierra, according to Elliott.
The heaviest snow is expected to remain above pass level this weekend.
While downpours will dampen the Sunshine State into Black Friday, tranquil weather will return in time for the busy travel days this weekend.
Motorists from the Southwest to the Plains and Southeast will need to have sunglasses on hand as sun glare will be the main concern on the roadways.