Winter Storm Still Threatens Thanksgiving Travel Plans for Much of U.S.

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(CNN) — The nasty weather tantrum that has already left a mess on its march from California through Texas is soaking the South and expected to ice up roads in the Northeast.

So if your spouse is angry that you put off making Thanksgiving travel plans, you can respond that you may have actually done your family a favor. Everyone may be glad you stayed at home, as a wintry storm threatens to upend the best-laid plans.

“All of these interstates, all of these roads across Pennsylvania — the Thruway, the Turnpike, 80, 90, 66 — they all will have ice and snow,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.

The colossal storm system already brought localized flooding to Arizona, heavy snow in Colorado, and heavy winds in New Mexico as it moved eastward.

If you’re driving …

“Snowmageddon” won’t hit any of the major cities. And it may only rain on the Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

Still, New York authorities are ready to pull the giant balloons from the parade if sustained winds exceed 23 mph that day, because of fears that the balloon handlers won’t be able to control them.

“We have a sergeant assigned to each of the balloons,” New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. “They can be lowered all the way to the ground or if the determination is made not to fly them.”

But west of the Big Apple, and around Philadelphia and Boston, the wicked weather will pile snow onto roadways, just as far-flung relatives are zipping into town.

AAA projects that 38.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday.

Drive carefully; the storm has already left more than 100 wrecks and claimed at least 12 lives.

On Saturday, Willie Nelson’s concert tour bus slid off a road in Texas and struck an embankment, sending three band members to a hospital. The 80-year-old singer was not on board.

If you’re flying …

With an estimated 3.14 million Americans taking to the sky this week so they can eat turkey with loved ones, planes will be as stuffed as bellies.

Passengers on nearly 500 flights out of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport had to find alternate routes when the storm iced the area over the weekend.

The outlook, however, was positively rosy Tuesday morning. None of the major airlines had cancellations planned.

“We decided to leave early, and we’re just going to keep our fingers crossed,” said Beth Hundley, who was taking a flight from Washington Dulles International Airport to Des Moines, Iowa.

“So far, the forecast seems to be pointing toward a nuisance storm, from our perspective, one that’s not going to result in severe cancellations, but more so, delays,” said Rob Yingling, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority spokesman.

But the nasty weather has another target to aim for. Snow and freezing rain is expected to move into New England Tuesday night, expanding the chances of cancellations and delays.

“The issue they run into is if you cancel one flight, there may not be capacity on the later flights to accommodate all the displaced passengers,” said Daniel Baker, who runs flight tracking website

“What I always say is, have a low expectation when traveling through bad weather on the airlines, particularly around the holidays, and you won’t be disappointed,” he said.

The weather may put a further dent in the trip home, as winds rev up to 40 miles per hour as the holiday wraps up, Myers said.

It could make flying harder and cause some people to miss work Monday.

And then they’ll have to deal with an angry boss — unless, of course, the boss ends up being stranded at an airport, too.

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