Winter Weather Won’t Be Good for Thanksgiving Travel Plans

A storm is brewing, and it's expected to hit while people are trying to get home for the holidays.

A nor’easter could drop up to four inches of snow on the Boston area on one of the busiest travel days of the year, and weather experts expect that the impacts on commuters trying to make it home for the Thanksgiving holiday will be significant.

“It’s really going to start in the morning, and then things will ramp up in midday,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Sipprell. “And then, it’s on.”

A winter storm watch is in effect for Massachusetts beginning at 7 a.m. on Wednesday morning, and will stretch into early Thursday, according to the NWS. The storm is expected to bring heavy snow, and cause hazardous road conditions with low visibility for drivers.

A storm watch is issued when there’s a potential for up to six or more inches of snow in a 12-hour period, or eight or more inches in a 24-hour period.

Sipprell said the onset of the winter weather event should begin early Wednesday, and for the most part hit the interior part of the state, West and North of the 495 beltway, before it moves eastward toward the city.

“For those areas North and West it may start off as rain in the morning and then change over to snow immediately,” he said. “It will be heavy at times, with impacts of low visibility, slippery travel—you name it.”

Sipprell said it’s “horrible timing” since many people will be trying to get around prior to Thursday’s Thanksgiving celebrations. “The intensity will increase as we go toward evening, and that’s going to have a big impact on travel,” he said, adding that there’s a chance it will hinder flights arriving and taking off from Logan Airport.

On the roads, MassDOT officials are getting ready for the snow by stopping construction work one day early to ease up on traffic congestion, but they are also encouraging drivers to plan ahead since the weather conditions will likely slow down travel.

“With the days before and after the Thanksgiving holiday already among the heaviest travel day of the year, we’re preemptively halting construction projects that block travel lanes a full day earlier,” said Frank DePaola, MassDOT’s acting secreatry. “With this potentially being the first major snow storm of the year, the timing is such that we don’t want our projects causing additional traffic congestion and we want everyone to safely reach their destination with enough time.”

For Boston, Sipprell stressed that it’s a “tough call” in terms of snow totals, but the weather service is keeping a close eye on shifting storm patterns as the it gets closer to Wednesday.

“If you get more mixed type precipitation, your snowfall isn’t going to be so heavy,” he said.