The weather will be quiet across much of the country over the weekend, forecasters say, even as an increase in the number of people traveling by air and driving for the Thanksgiving holiday is expected this year.
About 55.4 million travelers are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home over the Thanksgiving holiday period, among the highest rates since 2000, according to the auto owners group AAA.
The Transportation Security Administration expects about 2.9 million travelers to pass through airport security checkpoints across the country on Sunday, making it the busiest day the agency has ever recorded.
This holiday week is a continuation of a year of busy holiday air travel, where “we have already seen seven of the 10 busiest travel days in TSA history,” said David Pekosky, the agency's director.
Even with a large influx of travelers expected, the ticket and security lines at LaGuardia Airport on Wednesday were not crowded and moved along the route. The flight departure boards showed no delays or cancellations, and many passengers said they experienced no problems or inconveniences.
Wednesday looked like it would be a smooth day for travel across the country, with less than 1 percent of flights cancelled, said Ian Petchnik, spokesman for flight tracking service Flightradar24.
One traveler, Alia Fares, who was starting a long flight to Kuwait from LaGuardia, said she was not worried about the difficult airport experience.
“Everything is fine,” she said.
Most holiday travelers likely won't experience flight delays or road congestion due to weather conditions, said Mark Chenard, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
“The majority of the country should be in pretty good shape for the weekend,” he said.
The storm, which began late Monday and continued through the night Tuesday, was expected to dump up to three inches of rain in some areas from the Gulf Coast across the mid-Atlantic to the Northeast. Snowfall was six inches mentioned In New Hampshire, similar depths are expected in northern Maine, according to the National Weather Service, creating what forecasters have called a “white Thanksgiving.”
By Thanksgiving Day, most of the precipitation is expected to be over, though snow is possible in the northern Rockies, high plains and Pacific Northwest. South Texas may also receive some light rain, forecasters said. Temperatures should be around or slightly below normal for this time of year in most parts of the country.
The winds could pick up along the Northeast coast, but it looks like they won't be strong enough to delay the balloons for Macy's parade in Manhattan.
The only significant rainfall expected Thursday will be limited to parts of the Rockies — Idaho and Wyoming — and fall into Colorado and western Nebraska, Mr. Chenard said.
The federal government has also taken some steps to mitigate potential weather-related fallout, including relying on restricted airspace off the Gulf Coast and Gulf of Mexico that the military typically uses, and prioritizing commercial takeoffs before private jets, the FAA said.
For the trip home, travelers could see some light rain along the East Coast, especially in Florida, but as of Tuesday evening, forecasters saw no risk of heavy rain or severe wintry weather beyond the high elevations of the Rocky Mountains.
On Wednesday, 150 members of a high school marching band waited at LaGuardia Airport for flights back to Edina, Minnesota. Drummer Bennett Smalley, 17, said the group skipped Macy's visit to get to the airport early for fear of long queues and delays.
“We wanted to be safe this morning and get here very early,” he said. What they found was an uncrowded, quiet airport.
Camille Baker, Christine Chung And Nate Schweber Contributed to reports.