Some of the 55 million Americans expected to travel this holiday week could be facing challenges venturing out and beyond Long Island's roads beginning Tuesday afternoon and continuing into Wednesday.
The National Weather Service is predicting that a storm system developing in the Southern Plains will head toward the Northeast through Wednesday, bringing steady rain and strong winds to Long Island and the New York City region.
After a sunny but cold Monday, Tuesday will see rain and strong winds starting in the late afternoon, then becoming heavier as the night continues, with winds gusting up to 29 mph and temperatures rising into the 50s.
The rain will continue into Wednesday, among the most heavily traveled days of the year, but will begin to clear out midday and temperatures will stay in the high 50s.
"We are going to see rain overspread the entire area Tuesday and be steady to moderate overnight and into Wednesday morning," said Dominic Ramunni, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Upton.
Isolated trouble spots could be caused by localized flooding, downed trees or power lines, he said, but generally, Wednesday will see steady improvement overnight and into the holiday.
The storm will give way to a "relatively tame" Thanksgiving as winds diminish and temperatures hover around 50, he said.
Ramunni said winds, which will gust up to 25 mph Wednesday night, are expected to die down enough Thursday that Macy's will be able to safely fly their iconic balloons in the 97th edition of the annual parade in Manhattan, which kicks off at 8:30 a.m.
New York City requires that the flying floats can only be operated if sustained winds remain below 23 mph and that gusts don't exceed 34 mph. the NYPD has said.
The same storm could produce a wintry mix for the interior Northeast, severe thunderstorms for the northern Gulf states and gusty winds and heavy rain for the Southeast, all of which could spell trouble for flights across the eastern half of the United States.
Rain could return to the region on Friday and into Saturday, forecasters say.
Of the 55 million Americans projected to head 50 miles or more from home for Thanksgiving, 49 million are expected to drive to their destinations. AAA expects 4.7 million people to fly during Thanksgiving weekend and noted Tuesday and Wednesday are the busiest air travel days before the holiday.