Millions of Americans will hit the road on Tuesday to journey home from Christmas Day celebrations.
Weather will impact many across the Northeast, Northwest and parts of the south-central United States.
Lake-effect snow to create risky travel in parts of the Northeast
The worst conditions for travelers heading home on Tuesday will be downwind of the Great Lakes, where intense bands of lake-effect snow is in store.
Motorists planning to travel on stretches of I-75, I-81, I-86, I-90 and I-196 should prepare for difficult conditions. Travel may become impossible at times due to snow-clogged roads and whiteouts.
Be sure to travel with a survival kit. The air will be dangerously cold for anyone who gets stranded amid the heavy snow.
“Much of the country will be in the deep freeze Tuesday and Wednesday with widespread temperatures 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit below normal stretching from the Rockies to the Northeast,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said.
“The good news is that most of this region will be dry, outside of the Great Lakes, so travel conditions should be relatively good,” he said.
However, Pydynowski warned that there can still be lingering icy spots on roads.
There will still be a biting breeze blowing across the Northeast on Tuesday. Winds will not be as strong as what blasted the region on Christmas Day, reducing the threat of flight delays at New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.
However, it will not take much wind to continue to blow and drift the snow that the Christmas snowstorm left behind. This windswept snow can create local whiteouts and clog roads that have already been cleared by crews.
Motorists planning to between Albany, New York, Boston and Portland and Bangor, Maine, should prepare for rapidly changing weather conditions and continued treacherous travel. Air travel may be disrupted.
Blowing snow issues may linger into Wednesday and Thursday across northern and central New England.
Rain and locally icy mix to slow post-Christmas travel in the South
“Those traveling along I-10 between Houston and Jacksonville, Florida, could run into rain, perhaps causing some delays,” Pydynowski said.
The rain and accompanying low-hanging clouds will focus on Texas and Louisiana on Tuesday before spreading eastward to northern Florida, southern Georgia and the coastal Carolinas on Wednesday. The rain is expected to remain south of Atlanta.
There may be just enough cold air for a wintry mix to create slick spots in Texas from Wichita Falls to Lubbock and Midland on Tuesday and Tuesday night.
A wintry mix could then develop along the I-95 corridor in the Carolinas from Dillon, South Carolina, to Rocky Mount, North Carolina, on Tuesday night into Wednesday.
Bridges and overpasses would be the first to turn icy.
A more significant and widespread ice event may endanger travelers and residents later in the week.
Northwest to turn increasingly stormy this week
Tuesday will start with a band of snow streaking from the central Rockies to the I-80 corridor in Nebraska. This snow will fizzle by the afternoon as high pressure builds overhead and provides dry weather for most of the Northwest, but another storm is on the horizon.
A bit of rain and snow will gradually spread across the Northwest Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday.
Rain is expected to dampen Portland, Oregon, as the air will be too warm for a repeat of the dangerous freezing rain on Christmas Eve, but snow may return to Seattle.
While there will be little to no snow accumulation in Seattle, motorists should prepare for renewed slippery travel through the mountain passes. This includes on I-90’s Snoqualmie Pass.
Similar to the southeastern United States, the weather is expected to worsen for post-Christmas travelers later this week as a potent storm arrives with more significant rain, snow and even ice.
Best weather for Christmas travelers
“The easiest travel weather should be across most of California, the Four Regions region and the Great Basin with dry conditions expected for Tuesday and Wednesday,” Pydynowski said.
While that is good news for those wanting to make good travel time heading home, the region is in desperate need of rain to squash the fire danger when future storms kick up gusty winds.