Heavy snow is piling up Wednesday in parts of Pennsylvania and western New York from a winter storm system that threatens to disrupt millions of travelers heading out for Thanksgiving.
A heavy snowstorm forecast for Pittsburgh — and dubbed the “Gobblegeddon” — failed to develop as snow turned to rain in the city, but did strike northern counties, bringing more than 9 inches to Mercer County as it moved East.
In Western New York, 4.5 inches fell in the first snowfall of the season in Buffalo that The Buffalo News described as “Hallmark perfect.”
Heavy snow is forecast from the Tennessee Valley to western New England, with freezing rain possible across the Appalachians and western Mid-Atlantic into the interior Northeast through Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.
Heavy rainfall is forecast across parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.
“The timing of the storm couldn’t be worse,” said Chris Vaccaro, spokesman for the NWS headquarters in Silver Spring, Md. “We are seeing numerous threats as the storm is beginning to develop and intensify.”
More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. The overwhelming majority — about 39 million people — will be on the roads.
But more than 3 million people are expected to descend on airports, which could get snarled at some of the busiest hubs on the East Coast, including New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Boston and Charlotte, N.C.
Transportation officials advised travelers to check with their airlines and reduce speed on highways. Travel experts suggested airline passengers might be able to have penalty fees waived if they wanted to change their bookings because of the weather.
The storm also threatens to play havoc on Thursday with the annual Macy’s Day Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City. Forecasts call for sustained winds and gusts close to the maximum permitted by the city for hoisting the giant balloons.
Contributing: Associated Press