Snow and rain expected to cause holiday travel delays

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 22, 2011 11:38 AM
Snow and rain expected to cause holiday travel delays

(Reuters) - Snowfall in the Rockies and soaking rain in the South will mean likely delays for holiday travelers on the first official day of winter, forecasters said on Thursday.

The Colorado mountains are expected to get more than a foot of snow, which is good news for skiers, but not for drivers, said senior meteorologist Paul Walker.

The storm later on Thursday will shift down into New Mexico, where six to 12 inches of snow are predicted in the mountains and gusty winds could make travel dangerous.

Heavy rain and thunderstorms in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee also could disrupt flights, Walker said.

Persistent rain was falling in Memphis early on Thursday and moving across the state.

"There will be a lot of rainfall today, with the areas south and east of us getting one to three inches," said Trevor Boucher, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Nashville.

Most of the more violent weather -- thunder and lightning storms -- will stay south of Tennessee, he said.

The showers will move into the Northeast, bringing heavy rains and thick fog overnight to New York, Washington and Philadelphia, Walker said.

"There's going to be some snow up into northern New England, north of Boston," Walker said.

Walker said gusty winds in the southern California mountains and passes on Thursday and Friday were forecast to reach 40-50 miles per hour, though some spots could experience gusts as high as 60 miles per hour.

The National Weather Service in San Diego issued a high wind warning, noting the winds would make driving difficult and advising motorists to watch for broken tree limbs and downed power lines.

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Additional reporting by Tim Ghianni; Editing by Jerry Norton)