(CBS) – The Thanksgiving holiday kicked off with a blast of winter weather across much the nation. The Northeast was hardest hit with snow and freezing temperatures, making the drive home a dangerous one for millions of Americans, reports CBS Boston station WBZ’s Chris McKinnon.
More than a foot of snow has fell in some parts of New Hampshire, three weeks before the official start of winter. With many people’s travel plans now in full swing, delays and cancellations are inevitable.
In New Hampshire, wet snow and high winds toppled electric lines, leaving 160,000 without power.
“Forty-five minutes now,” resident Noah Boudreault said. “Lights flickered in there a couple of times.”
Area roads were treacherous as plunging temperatures turned highways into ice rinks. Over 700 plows were dispatched to help clear the mess.
“Slick, definitely. Lot of ice. I slid almost the whole way here,” Jason Kendzerski said.
For air travelers, the situation was just as stressful. Over 700 flights were cancelled throughout the Northeast on Wednesday and thousands more were delayed.
“I actually got on the runway, started down the runway and we got shutdown, and we had to sit there and wait for them to open the airspace back up again,” a traveler said.
The bad weather extended as far south as Virginia, where this fuel tanker overturned on Interstate 64, snarling traffic for much of the day. In New York and New Jersey, icy road conditions forced many to stay inside.
“With this conditions, I can’t do that. I can’t risk it,” a driver said.
But for millions of travelers headed home for Thanksgiving, staying put wasn’t an option.
“This is pretty slippery and as it gets colder, it’s a little wet out there, so when it starts to freeze it’s going to be really bad,” driver Pete Beaulieu said.
The Nor’easter that brought the heavy snow and rain to much of New England has tapered off, but until the roadways are clear, drivers are being warned to take extra time before traveling.