Nearly 14 million people were under various winter weather alerts on Sunday as a post-Thanksgiving snowstorm moved over the Rockies and Central Plains and travelers trekked home after the holiday, forecasters said.
Winter storm warnings were in effect on Sunday for parts of the upper peninsula of Michigan, while weather advisories were in effect for parts of the Midwest and Great Lakes region, the Weather Service Prediction Center said on Sunday.
Moderate to heavy snowfall was expected to affect portions of the Southern Rockies and Central Plains, including much of Kansas, where as much as a foot of snow had fallen in some places as of Sunday.
“Gusty winds and heavy snow will increase hazardous travel conditions,” the National Weather Service said.
In Wichita, Kan., the Weather Service warned drivers on Sunday that a majority of roadways across the state were “snow packed and icy.” Meteorologists urged drivers to reduce their speed and allow extra time to reach their destination. The Harvey County Sheriff’s Office, in Newton, Kan., said on social media that it had responded to multiple vehicles that slid off roadways on Saturday.
As of Sunday morning, parts of Iowa had received up to four inches of snow, while areas of Missouri had received as much as 5.3 inches. Parts of Nebraska reported getting 10 inches, and parts of Colorado got from 10.5 to 23 inches, the Weather Service said.
The wintry weather comes as roughly 55.4 million people were estimated to be traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, according to projections from AAA, the automobile association that also tracks air travel.
The organization said this year’s travel forecast increased 2.3 percent from last year’s, making it the third-highest Thanksgiving forecast since 2000, when the organization began tracking holiday travel.
“For many Americans, Thanksgiving and travel go hand in hand, and this holiday we expect more people on the roads, skies and seas compared to 2022,” Paula Twidale, the senior vice president of AAA Travel, said in a statement.
The Transportation Security Administration said it anticipated that airport security checkpoints nationwide “will be busier than ever this holiday travel season” through Tuesday.
The administration said it expected to screen 2.9 million passengers on Sunday, “which will likely be the busiest travel day” of the season. It urged travelers to arrive at the airport two hours before their scheduled departure time.
Airports appeared to be experiencing minimal disruptions, with only 30 reported cancellations within, into or out of the country as of Sunday afternoon, according to the flight tracking site FlightAware.
The winter system was expected to shift northeast into the Middle and Upper Mississippi Valley region and the western Great Lakes on Sunday and into Monday, “increasing the possibility for heavy lake effect snow,” the Weather Service said.
Showers and thunderstorms were also forecast along the Gulf Coast and into Florida beginning on Sunday afternoon.
The Weather Service said high temperatures “will remain below average across most of the country over the next couple of days, particularly away from the coasts.”
High temperatures in the 20s and 30s are expected from the Central Rockies into the Northern and Central Plains, Upper Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes.
“Highs will be in the 40s and 50s for the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys and northern portions of the Southern Plains, with 50s for much of Texas and the Lower Mississippi Valley, and even as far south as the Gulf Coast by Monday,” the Weather Service said.
Temperatures in the Northeast were forecast to be “a bit closer to average,” in the 30s and 40s in New England, and 40s and 50s in the Mid-Atlantic, on Monday, the service said.