Rain May Snarl Thanksgiving Commutes

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Wet weather forecast through Wednesday may snarl travel plans for hundreds of thousands of tri-state residents headed out of town for Thanksgiving.

Heavy rains and scattered thunderstorms prompted flood warnings and closed some roads across swaths of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York early Wednesday. Snow mixed with sleet and freezing rain to make for treacherous driving and thousands of power outages across parts of New England and upstate New York.

Meteorologist Joe Pollina said he expects anywhere from 1-3/4 and 2-1/4 inches of rain to fall on most areas by late Wednesday night. He said the heaviest rain will probably fall on Tuesday night.

As of now, he said, Thanksgiving Day looks dry, but there could be some wind gusts in the 20 mph range, he said.

Orlando Veras, a spokesman with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, said the parade goes on rain or shine. But sustained winds more than 23 mph, or gusts more than 34 mph, could ground the event's 15 larger balloons.

In the case of high wind, he said the parade's 44 other mid-size balloons, plus floats and marching bands, would go on as planned.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey expects more than 5 million travelers to use its airports, bridges, tunnels and trains during the extended holiday weekend.

Travelers using the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan also are urged to allow extra time.

More than 1.3 million passengers are expected to pass through area airports and 42.5 million Americans are expected to travel nationally during the holiday weekend, according to AAA.

AAA spokesman Robert Sinclair said that lower gas prices — down by nearly 25 percent compared to last year — is spurring a pent-up demand to travel, despite the bad weather. "It might put a damper on things," he said. "But I don't know if it'll be severe enough to make people cancel their trip, but it will sure add complication and miserly to it."

Nearly 12 percent of the tri-state population will be traveling during the holiday weekend — a 3.5 percent increase over last year.

With reporting by Jim O'Grady and the Associated Press