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Nasty winter storm could snarl holiday traffic in East

5:20 AM, Nov 26, 2013   |    comments
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A blast of Arctic air blamed for at least 10 deaths in the West and the disruption of hundreds of flights out of Dallas is bearing down on the East Coast, just in time to snarl Thanksgiving travel Tuesday and Wednesday from the Deep South to New England.

The biggest problems for Thanksgiving fliers likely will be the windy, cloudy and rainy conditions forecast to hit delay-prone airports in the Mid-Atlantic, notably Philadelphia and the three big New York City airports.

The storm moved out of North Texas by late Monday, but not before leaving another coating of rain, freezing rain and light sleet. In Dallas, American Airlines canceled nearly 1,000 flights at its Dallas/Fort Worth hub Sunday and Monday.

Heavy rain is expected in the South early Tuesday, then spread across the Carolinas and up the Interstate 95 corridor late Tuesday through Wednesday to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Boston, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

While much of the East has been abnormally dry recently, the timing for the rain is dismal: Even without snow in the forecast, Sosnowski said the rain "would be enough to slow travel on the highways and delay a number of flights."

Snow is expected inland and away from the coast, most of it over the Appalachians and upstate New York. Big cities most impacted by the possible snow Tuesday and Wednesday likely will be Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Syracuse. "Several inches of snow and sleet are possible," according to the National Weather Service.

"Gusty winds would also factor in to delays along the coast," Sosnowski said. The rain will become wind-driven, reducing visibility for motorists. The rain could cause flash and urban flooding.

Some severe weather, with hail, high winds, and even possible tornadoes, also could rattle parts of northern Florida and coastal sections of the Carolinas on Tuesday, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

As of late Monday, the weather service had posted winter weather watches, advisories or warnings in 13 states from northern Georgia to northern Vermont.

The weather had been blamed for at least 10 deaths in the West in several traffic accidents. Five of the deaths were in Texas.

Contributing: Doug Stanglin, USA TODAY; Associated Press

Doyle Rice and Ben Mutzabaugh, USA TODAY

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