A front extending from the lower Great Lakes to the...

A front extending from the lower Great Lakes to the eastern Gulf coast, shown on Monday, Nov. 24, 2014, will move eastward to the southeast coast and off the northeast coast by Wednesday morning. Credit: NOAA/GOES East

Just as Long Islanders hit the roads and rails and take to the skies, a coastal storm will serve up snow, rain and wind to the Northeast from Wednesday into Thanksgiving morning, the National Weather Service said.

The storm is expected to stretch from the Carolinas to New England, but how close it gets to Long Island is still uncertain because the system has not fully formed, meteorologists said.

Six-plus inches could begin falling here Wednesday, but the probability of that much snow is low, meteorologists said. Western Nassau will likely see 2-4 inches and central Long Island about 1-2 inches, with eastern Suffolk getting just a taste of snow, they said. Wind gusts could reach 30 mph. It all comes the day the bulk of holiday travelers step out.

"People want to be where they need to be the night before," said Robert Sinclair Jr., spokesman for automotive club AAA New York.

Doreen Biondolillo said she'll leave her Oakdale home about 1 p.m. for a five-hour trip with husband and dog to their getaway house near Lake George, in the Adirondacks, where they will toast her mother, who died last year.

"I don't care if I have to put on my snow boots," said Biondolillo, a nursing program coordinator at Suffolk County Community College. "We have this wonderful fireplace. We're going to sit there and relax."

Thanksgiving travel volume is expected to reach its highest level since 2007, with nearly 2 million more Americans getting away than last year, according to AAA New York.

The 46 million travelers expected this holiday is a sign of the recovering economy and falling gas prices, down to an average $3.21 for Long Island, Sinclair said.

He thinks the Island has lost its "mojo" on storm timing, after being lucky early in the year when storms hit on Fridays or Saturdays.

"It's going to really hit at a time when it's going to hurt significantly," he said. "The airline industry will be hammered. . . . The roads could be really, really choked."

The rain starts after dawn Wednesday but mixes with snow in the afternoon, said meteorologist David Stark of the weather service's Upton office. About 4 p.m., expect all snow, he said.

The total precipitation over 18 hours will be about 1.25 inches, but there may be short, intense periods of rain or snow, Stark said.

When turkey day dawns, temperatures in the high 30s and low 40s should melt much of the snow.

Big storm or not, Matt Pappas of Huntington said he's bringing his daughter, 4, to visit his childhood home in Worcester, Massachusetts. He's also bringing his girlfriend to meet his tribe for the first time. "It's the only time of the year I get to see them all at once," he said.

Kathy Gundermann, an empty-nester in Huntington, hopes it'll be like old times when her two daughters and relatives come for the holiday. "If they don't all come," she said, "I'll be eating turkey for a week."

With Gary Dymski

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