Could one of the biggest travel weeks of the year be disrupted by a big snowstorm or a nasty rain storm? The answer, according to weather forecasters, is maybe — but it’s too early to know for sure.
Forecasters from the National Weather Service’s regional office in New Jersey say there is the potential for a storm system to develop in the Great Lakes region and impact the eastern United States early next week, sometime from late Monday into Tuesday, when many people will be traveling for Thanksgiving holiday gatherings.
Much uncertain remains this far out and it’s too early for forecasters to know whether the storm — if it does head this way — will impact the Garden State and whether it will bring snow or rain, said Jonathan O’Brien, a meteorologist at the weather service office.
“We will be watching it closely, but at this point, it’s really hard to have any confidence (in the forecast for early next week). It’s still too early to say,” O’Brien noted Tuesday afternoon.
“It’s one of those deals where some of the computer forecasts have come out, with a lot of models showing a big storm system coming Monday into Tuesday,” O’Brien said. He noted that the computer guidance models have been flip-flopping between rain and snow, and where the potential storm system will track.
“The model guidance today looks a lot less interesting than it did yesterday,” he said. “It’s common for it to go back and forth like that.”
Thanksgiving travel concerns
Should holiday travelers be worried about next week’s road conditions?
“We would encourage people to monitor the forecast, but not be too concerned at this point,” O’Brien said. “It’s so far out and there’s so much uncertainty at this point.”
Steven DiMartino, a meteorologist who heads the private NY NJ PA Weather forecasting company, agrees it’s too early to get a good handle on whether our region will get hit with snow or rain, or something in between. But he thinks people should pay attention to the latest forecasts.
“There is a lot of volatility in this forecast for early next week. So you’re gonna see a lot of different depictions of this time period,” DiMartino said in a video forecast posted on his company website and on YouTube Tuesday morning.
“Everything has been shown already, from raging snowstorm to raging rain storm with gale (winds), to nothing at all — a complete miss,” he said. “That’s because there’s a lot of uncertainty on how the various parts of the atmosphere and shortwaves are going to be interacting for this storm and set up the evolution of this storm developing.”
For now, DiMartino said, holiday travelers should know there’s a potential that travel could be rough next week if the storm materializes.
“Just have some backup plans and just be prepared to take a little bit longer to get to your destinations between Tuesday and Wednesday in the northern Mid-Atlantic, and you can also extend that into New England,” he said.
Forecasters from AccuWeather are also urging holiday travelers to be aware “that a significant storm could rapidly strengthen and cause a host of disruptions from the Midwest to portions of the Great Lakes, interior Northeast and mid-Atlantic over the weekend and the days before Thanksgiving.”
Just like the National Weather Service and other forecasters, AccuWeather says “the exact timing and track of the storm have yet to be pinned down,” but there could be a “broad area of stormy weather developing early next week.”
“We could be looking at a huge mess and a real wrench in holiday travel,” AccuWeather chief meteorologist Jon Porter said in a forecast report on AccuWeather.com.
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Len Melisurgo may be reached at LMelisurgo@njadvancemedia.com.