Storm Upsets U.S. Travel as Macy’s Waits to Make Parade Call

Heavy rain and high wind along the U.S. East Coast are tying up air traffic for holiday travelers as the organizers of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade wait to decide whether the event’s trademark balloons will fly.

A storm system is bringing wind-blown rain today to cities including Boston and New York. It’s also expected to drop more than 6 inches (15 centimeters) of snow on the Appalachian Mountains and inland areas from Pennsylvania to New England.

Winds may gust to 60 miles (95 kilometers) per hour along the Massachusetts coast, according to the National Weather Service. Sustained winds of as much as 30 mph are expected in New York with gusts of 45, the agency said. Gusts may linger, bringing difficult conditions for crews controlling balloons for tomorrow’s parade in Manhattan, said Rob Carolan, owner of Hometown Forecast Services Inc. in Nashua, New Hampshire.

“The decision on whether the giant balloons will join the lineup is made based on real-time, on-the-scene weather data, not via forecasts,” said Holly Thomas, a spokeswoman for the 87th Macy’s parade. “We are closely monitoring the weather as we do each year.”

The storm triggered winter storm warnings and advisories from Maine to Georgia as it roared north, according to the weather service.

Flight Delays

As of 10:30 a.m. New York time, 214 flights were canceled around the U.S., with the most, 61, arriving and departing from New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport, according to FlightAware, a Houston-based airline tracking company. At New York’s LaGuardia Airport, 33 flights were scrubbed, while Philadelphia reported 54.

Delays of almost an hour were reported at LaGuardia and almost two hours at Philadelphia, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s website. Some Newark traffic was slowed by more than an hour while at New York’s John F. Kennedy International, some flights were delayed 49 minutes, according to the FAA at 10:40 a.m.

“That is just going to get worse and spread northward,” Carolan said by telephone. “The big issues for Boston this afternoon will be wind. Heavy rain is falling from eastern Virginia right through New York City into New England.”

Rain should begin to taper off in New York, Washington and Philadelphia by late morning and then later today in New England, he said.

Alerts Posted

Flood watches and advisories stretch from Maine to Maryland. A flash flood warning is in effect for parts of the New York City metropolitan area, including Westchester County in New York and Fairfield County in Connecticut, according to the weather service.

As much as 3 inches of rain had fallen just north and east of New York and 1 to 2 more were expected, the weather service said at about 8 a.m.

Cold air gripped the Northeast earlier as the storm advanced, sending spot wholesale electricity to an 11-week high on Nov. 25. Natural gas futures climbed 2 percent this week on predictions of colder weather.

Temperatures will be close to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 Celsius) in New York, Boston and along the East Coast today, then plummet after the system moves through.

The reading in New York’s Central Park, where 2.18 inches of rain fell, was 61 degrees as of 7 a.m., Carolan said.

Temperatures in the big cities of the Northeast will be down to the freezing mark of 32 by tonight, said Bill Deger, a meteorologist at AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. Thanksgiving should be clear, he said.

Snow Outlook

The heaviest snow was predicted from southern Quebec through northern New England, western New York and into Pennsylvania, the weather service said. As much as 8 inches may fall in western Pennsylvania and 5 inches in northern New York. One to 3 inches are expected in Burlington, Vermont, today, according to the weather service.

Montreal may have its “first major snowfall of the season,” according to Environment Canada. About 5 inches of snow may fall there and in Quebec City, it said.

Temperatures across the eastern U.S. are expected to be 5 to 8 degrees below normal from today to Dec. 1, said Matt Rogers, president of the Commodity Weather Group LLC in Bethesda, Maryland.

More seasonal readings will move into the U.S Northeast from Dec. 2 to 6, with temperatures rising about 3 to 5 degrees above normal across the South. The Pacific Northwest, however, will see the mercury fall to 15 degrees below normal in the same time frame.

That cold air is expected to move eastward, gripping an area from the Pacific Northwest to the Midwest by Dec. 7 to 11, Rogers said. The lowest temperatures will be across the upper Great Plains.

At the same time, the U.S. Northeast may have readings staying seasonal or just below normal.

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