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A Messy Thanksgiving Travel Forecast

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Over the river and through the woods...

Are you traveling this long Thanksgiving weekend?  According to AAA travel volume will be up this year.  As a matter of fact, it hasn't been this highs since 2007 when 50.6 million traveled by trains, planes and automobiles (not all in Washington, but it does feel that way in Seattle sometimes)!  The busiest day of traffic... Wednesday with an average travel time of 5 hours - Best time to avoid traffic headaches are before 2pm or after 7pm according to Google Maps.  For the return trip home you could see a 60 percent improvement in traffic by waiting to hit the roads Saturday, providing Mother Nature plays nice...

Rain, wind and snow... Oh No!

The first weather system arrives overnight and leaves the front door open (how rude!) to a series of Pacific fronts.  The good news for us... Most of the rain (snow in the mountains) will fall overnight with this system leaving Wednesday mainly dry.  However, snow showers will linger in the mountains through late morning.  (There's more about the mountain snow, you just need to scroll down a bit.)

A much stronger system will push onshore Thanksgiving Day bringing areas west of the Cascades heavy rains and locally damaging winds 40-60 mph... Yuck!  It will be gusty east of the Cascades too, but not as strong 25-40 mph.  More snow for the mountains (keep scrolling down).

Notice the very tight pressure gradient Thanksgiving morning and evening across the Pacific Northwest as the low sits off the coast.  It is a bad combination for the west side...  Gusty winds and heavy rain, this will likely bring down some trees and cause local power outages.

The wet and windy pattern continues into the weekend with a very active jet stream kicking a front towards the Pacific Northwest every 12-18 hours.  Now it will not be raining none stop this weekend, but we will have a chance for rain both days.  West of the Cascades - Rain and gusty winds.  Yep... more mountain snow (keep reading and scrolling down, I promise I'll have snow totals for the mountains).

East of the Cascades - "I'll have a little wind with my rain, please"...

Wednesday doesn't look to bad, most of the rain will be ending by morning except for some lingering showers in the foothills of the Blues and around Spokane.  A better chance for showers and some gusty winds on Thanksgiving.  Heck, we might evening see a few snowflakes around Spokane mixing in with the rain.  Another system Friday with rain at times and breezy winds.  Heads ups...  There is a slight chance we could see some snowflakes late night/early morning in the Yakima and Kittitas Valleys this weekend - No accumulation.  But, the east slopes (Cle Elum that's you) could see some snow on the ground with falling snow levels.


West of the Cascades...  "A plate of wind and go heavy on the rain!"

Heavy rain and gusty winds through the weekend.  A wet Thanksgiving in Seattle... What a surprise!  Rainfall will be locally heavy at times with rain totals between 2-4 inches.  While this should not cause flooding issues for the rivers it could increase the landslide danger this weekend.  Another problem on the Westside will be gusty winds, they could exceed 60 mph at times, especially in Whatcom, Skagit and Island county.  Winds like that could easily bring down trees and cause some power outages

Mountains...  "Would you like an extra scoop of snow"?

Finally we're talking about the snow...  Great news if you're hoping for an early start to the ski season, bad news if you have to drive in the mountains this Thanksgiving Holiday! 

Let's start with the Cascades...  Snow levels will be dropping to 2,500-3,500 ft. overnight so that means all the passes will see accumulating snow.  The east slopes (Hello Cle Elum) could even see 3-6 inches tonight through the weekend. The map below shows the accumulative amounts and time.  Heading over the passes Wednesday shouldn't be that big of a problem (except for traffic).  It's driving back this weekend where you could have some issues because of the snow.  Please be prepared for Winter Driving if you're heading into the mountains!

Blue Mountains...  We get to play in the snow too (I'm trying to put a positive spin on having to drive in the snow)!  The map below shows the accumulative amounts and time.   It is always a good idea to check the road reports before heading into the mountains. 

Be prepared...

Drive slow and always make sure you have a full tank of gas before heading into the passes.  WSDOT has a great checklist to help you prepare for winter driving conditions.    Finally, remember to check the pass reports...  Washington Roads, Oregon Roads