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Holiday travelers hit the road

Posted: November 28, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 28, 2013 2:00 a.m.

A Greyhound bus displays a 'Happy Holidays' message while traffic moves slowly on the southbound I-5 Freeway as seen from the Biscaliluz Drive overpass looking north in Castaic on Wednesday afternoon. Photo by Signal Staff Photographer Dan Watson.

 

The outlook for those traveling for the holiday weekend has gotten a little brighter recently as the blustery, rainy Thanksgiving initially forecast for the Santa Clarita Valley is now expected to be slightly less gloomy, a weather official said.

The 50 percent chance of rain Thursday night is now a 20 percent chance, according to Stuart Seto, a weather specialist with the National Weather Service in Oxnard.

“And it’ll be warming up for the weekend,” he said Wednesday.

The forecast daytime highs are expected to be in the upper 60s, he said, with overnight lows in the lower 40s.

And, while residents can look forward to local moderate temperatures with a slight risk of rain on Thanksgiving, travelers to and from the Eastern United States can expect a wet and blustery storm with plenty of wind, snow and rain.

The storm for the most part unleashed wind-driven rain along the Northeast’s heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor from Richmond, Va., to the tip of Maine.

The storm was expected to drop around 6 inches of snow in parts of West Virginia and western Pennsylvania and up to a foot in a pocket of upstate New York.

Damaging winds gusting up to 60 mph were expected to rip through Boston and other coastal areas.

Those winds could prevent the giant balloons from taking flight this year at the Macy’s parade. Safety rules that specify wind speeds were enacted in New York after a spectator was killed in 1997 in an accident involving an out-of-control balloon.

Flight cancellations piled up at East Coast hubs. By midday Wednesday, around 250 flights had been canceled, according to the tracking website FlightAware.com.

But that was a tiny fraction of the nearly 32,000 flights that were scheduled to, from or within the U.S. on Wednesday, the site said. And the weather in many places was improving as the day wore on.

Most of the cancellations involved Newark, N.J., Philadelphia and New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

The longest delays affected Philadelphia-bound flights, which were being held at their points of origin for an average of about two hours because of the weather, according to the website.

The Philadelphia area was under a flood watch, with 2 to 3 inches of rain forecast before falling temperatures turn precipitation to snow.

The storm, which developed in the West over the weekend, has been blamed for at least 11 deaths, five of them in Texas.

But as it moved east, it wasn’t as bad as feared.

“This is a fairly typical storm for this time of year,” said Chris Vaccaro of the National Weather Service. “Obviously, it’s ill-timed because you have a lot of rain and snowfall in areas where people are trying to move around town or fly or drive out of town. ... But fortunately, we’re at this point going to start seeing a steady improvement in conditions across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.”

More than 43 million people are expected to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. About 39 million of those will be on the roads, while more than 3 million people are expected to fly.

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