Warm Rain Set for East Coast in Lead-Up to Christmas Holiday

Rain, wind and mild temperatures will build across the U.S. East Coast through the week, while cold sweeps through the center of the country in advance of the Christmas holiday.

A storm is forecast to develop near Mississippi tomorrow and then drive up the central U.S. to Michigan through the next day, said Dave Bowers, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. The system will pump warmer air and rain along the East Coast that may cause flight delays.

“All that really rich tropical moisture surges up through the Carolinas and the whole Eastern Seaboard is wet on Wednesday,” Bowers said. “Generally the trend over the next few days is each passing day is milder than the day before.”

The Christmas-New Year’s holiday season is one of the busiest times for long-distance travel in the U.S. with a projected 23 percent increase this year, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. About 98.6 million people may make trips of 50 miles or more this holiday season, an increase of 4 percent from last year, according to the AAA, North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization.

In Manhattan’s Central Park, as well as Boston, temperatures may reach 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 Celsius) on Dec. 24, the National Weather Service said. Readings near 62 degrees were forecast for Philadelphia and 65 degrees in Washington.

Bower said Chicago will be cooler than the East Coast cities and it will probably have more rain than snow from the storm. There is a chance snow could fall on some parts of the Mississippi River valley from Illinois to Missouri, Bowers said.

“Places that don’t usually get a white Christmas could get one this year, like St. Louis,” Bowers said.