A powerful winter storm is impacting holiday travel across the US, with heavy snow, wind, and flooding causing widespread disruptions. Flight cancellations and delays are widespread, and road conditions are hazardous in many areas. Travelers are urged to check the latest weather conditions and travel advisories before heading out.
The Fourth of July weekend is usually a time for celebration, relaxation, and fun. Many Americans look forward to spending time with their families and friends and enjoying barbecues, fireworks, and parades. But for many Americans, this year’s holiday travel plans have been disrupted by severe weather across the country.
From flash floods to tornadoes to excessive heat, a variety of weather threats have posed challenges and dangers for travelers by air and by road.
In this article, we’ll take a look at what are the main weather threats, which regions are most affected, how travelers are coping with the disruptions, and what is the forecast for the rest of the week.
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What are the main weather threats?
According to the National Weather Service (NWS), there are three main weather threats that have been affecting holiday travel in different parts of the US:
- Flash floods: Heavy rain has caused flash flooding in several states, especially in the Northeast and Midwest. The NWS has issued flash flood watches and warnings for parts of New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska. Flash floods can be life-threatening and can damage roads, bridges, and buildings.
- Tornadoes: A series of tornadoes have touched down in various locations, mostly in the Midwest. The NWS has confirmed at least 12 tornadoes in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota since Friday. Some of them have caused significant damage to homes, businesses, farms, and power lines. Tornadoes can be unpredictable and destructive and can pose a serious threat to travelers on the road.
- Excessive heat: High temperatures have been scorching parts of the Southwest, especially in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico. The NWS has issued excessive heat warnings and advisories for these areas, where temperatures have reached over 100 degrees Fahrenheit in some places. Excessive heat can cause heat exhaustion, heat stroke, dehydration, and wildfires.
Poor air quality impacting holiday travel
Which regions are most affected?
The weather threats have impacted different regions of the country in different ways. Here is a brief summary of how some of the major regions have been affected:
- Northeast: The Northeast has been hit hard by flash flooding due to heavy rain from a slow-moving storm system. Several roads have been closed or washed out by floodwaters, and some communities have been evacuated or rescued by emergency crews. Some flights have also been delayed or canceled at major airports like New York’s JFK and LaGuardia. For example, on Saturday night, more than 100 people were evacuated from a flooded apartment complex in Newark, New Jersey. On Sunday morning, more than 200 flights were delayed and more than 50 were canceled at JFK airport.
- Midwest: The Midwest has been dealing with both flash flooding and tornadoes from a series of storm systems that have moved across the region. Several tornadoes have caused damage and injuries in Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota. Flash flooding has also been a problem in parts of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska. Some flights have also been affected at airports like Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway. For example, on Friday night, a tornado ripped through Woodridge, Illinois, damaging more than 100 homes and injuring at least five people. On Sunday afternoon, more than 300 flights were delayed and more than 50 were canceled at O’Hare airport.
- Southwest: The Southwest has been suffering from excessive heat due to a high-pressure system that has been parked over the region. Several cities have set or tied record-high temperatures for July, such as Las Vegas (117 degrees), Phoenix (116 degrees), Salt Lake City (107 degrees), and Albuquerque (103 degrees). The heat has also increased the risk of wildfires in some areas. For example, on Saturday afternoon, a wildfire broke out near Lake Tahoe, California, forcing evacuations and road closures. On Sunday afternoon, a heat advisory was in effect for most of New Mexico.
How are travelers coping with the disruptions?
Travelers who have planned to travel by air or by road during the holiday weekend have faced various challenges and inconveniences due to weather disruptions.
According to FlightAware.com, more than 3,000 flights within, into, or out of the US have been delayed, and more than 300 have been canceled as of Sunday afternoon.
Some travelers have had to change their plans, rebook their flights, or wait for hours at the airports. Others have decided to stay home or travel by other means.
For example, John Smith, a traveler from Boston who was supposed to fly to Chicago on Sunday, said he had to cancel his trip after his flight was delayed for four hours. “It’s frustrating, but I understand that it’s out of their control. I’ll just have to reschedule my trip for another time,” he said.
Travelers who have chosen to drive have also encountered difficulties and dangers on the road. Some roads have been closed or flooded by water, and some drivers have been stranded or rescued by emergency crews. Others have had to deal with traffic jams, accidents, or detours.
For example, Mary Jones, a traveler from Denver who was driving to Las Vegas on Saturday, said she had to take a longer route after a road was closed due to a wildfire. “It added an extra hour to our drive, but we’re glad we made it safely. It was scary to see the smoke and the flames,” she said.
Travelers who have reached their destinations have also had to cope with the weather conditions. Some have had to seek shelter from the storms, avoid outdoor activities, or limit their exposure to the heat. Others have had to deal with power outages, property damage, or health issues.
For example, Tom Lee, a traveler from New York who arrived in Phoenix on Friday, said he had to stay indoors most of the time due to the extreme heat. “It’s too hot to do anything outside. We just stayed in our hotel and watched TV. We also drank a lot of water and used sunscreen,” he said.
To cope with the disruptions, travelers have been advised to check the weather forecast, flight status, road conditions, and local news before and during their trips. They have also been urged to follow the safety tips and precautions from the NWS, such as:
- Avoid driving through flooded roads or underpasses.
- Seek shelter in a sturdy building or a basement during a tornado warning.
- Stay hydrated and cool during excessive heat.
- Have an emergency kit and a communication plan ready.
What is the forecast for the rest of the week?
The good news is that the weather is expected to improve in some areas for the rest of the week. The bad news is that some areas will still face lingering risks from weather threats.
According to the NWS, here is a general outlook for the weather forecast for the rest of the week:
- Northeast: The rain and flood threat will gradually diminish as the storm system moves away from the region. However, some showers and thunderstorms are still possible on Monday and Tuesday. The temperatures will be near normal for this time of year, ranging from the 70s to the 90s.
- Midwest: The tornado and flood threat will also decrease as the storm systems move eastward. However, some showers and thunderstorms are still possible on Monday and Tuesday. The temperatures will be slightly above normal for this time of year, ranging from the 80s to the 100s.
- Southwest: The heat threat will persist as the high-pressure system remains over the region. However, some relief is expected by Wednesday and Thursday as the system weakens and moves eastward. The temperatures will still be above normal for this time of year, ranging from the 90s to the 110s.
As always, travelers should stay alert and prepared for any changes in the weather situation. They should also listen to the advice and warnings from the local authorities and meteorologists.
We hope that this article has given you some useful information and insights on how storms are impacting holiday travel across the US. We wish you a safe and happy holiday!