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High Winds, Snow May Mean Air Traffic Delays for Thanksgiving

Nov. 23 (Bloomberg) -- High winds and wintry weather may delay air traffic in the U.S. Northeast, the upper Great Plains and the Pacific Northwest during the Thanksgiving holiday, one of the busiest periods of the year for travel.

Winds with gusts of about 40 miles (64 kilometers) per hour are expected in New York and of about 50 mph in Boston, according to the National Weather Service. Snow, ice and freezing rain are expected from Minnesota to California, Oregon and Washington, according to the weather service.

“I am sure there will be airline delays tomorrow,” said Paul Walker, senior meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. “There will be delays from some weather problems.”

On average, 90 percent of aircraft seats are filled on the busiest days, which include Thanksgiving, which is always on a Thursday, and the following Sunday and Monday, according to the Washington-based Air Transport Association, which represents the largest U.S. airlines.

Tomorrow will also be Amtrak’s busiest day with an estimated 127,000 people riding the railroad, a 70 percent increase over a normal Wednesday, according to Cliff Cole, an Amtrak spokesman.

Last year, Amtrak carried 686,000 passengers during the holiday week, setting a Thanksgiving ridership record, according to railroad statistics.

Freezing rain and sleet is forecast for Minneapolis tomorrow, according to the National Weather Service in Chanhassen, Minnesota. Snow is forecast to fall tomorrow night.

Midwest Flights

Walker said that storm is going to cause problems for flights through Minneapolis and North and South Dakota tomorrow. In addition, cold air will mean planes in the Pacific Northwest will probably have to be de-iced before flying, he said. That will probably cause delays, he said.

Driving along Interstates 90 and 94 through Minnesota and North and South Dakota may also be difficult, Walker said.

In Boston, winds as intense as 28 mph are forecast for tomorrow with gust of as much as 44 mph, according to the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts. A gale warning, meaning winds of 40 mph are possible, has been issued for coastal areas of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. Gusts as intense as 50 mph are possible.

Boston’s Logan International Airport, the largest in the six-state New England region, is located at the seacoast along the edge of the city’s harbor.

New York Rain

On Thanksgiving, light rain may fall across New York starting in late in the morning to mid-afternoon, with the possibility of some light snow mixed in, said Matt Scalora, a weather service meteorologist in Upton, New York. The precipitation will change over to all rain as the day wears on and will be light to moderate, he said.

There is a chance the rain will miss Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade altogether, Scalora said. The parade starts at 9 a.m. on 77th Street and Central Park West.

“If the rain holds off a couple of hours, it will stay dry for the parade Thursday morning,” Scalora said.

The best U.S. destinations this week will be in North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, Walker said. Sunny skies and warm temperatures are in the forecast there, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian K. Sullivan at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Stets at

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