By Michelle R. Smith
and Jason Keyser
PROVIDENCE, R.I.: A wet and blustery storm along the East Coast made driving hazardous and tangled up hundreds of flights Wednesday but didn’t cause the all-out gridlock many Thanksgiving travelers had feared.
Many travelers marveled at how orderly and anxiety-free the airports were during what is typically one of the busiest days of the year.
One big question lingered in New York: Will high winds ground Snoopy and the other giant cartoon-character balloons at the Macy’s parade on Thanksgiving Day?
The storm for the most part unleashed wind-driven rain along the Northeast’s heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor from Richmond, Va., to the tip of Maine.
Emerging from the weather gantlet was Katie Fleisher, who made it by car from Portsmouth, N.H., through rain and fog to Boston’s Logan Airport with little trouble and discovered to her amazement that the panicked, cranky crowds she expected were nonexistent.
“We thought it would be busier here. But there’ve been no lines, and it has been really quiet all morning,” said Fleisher, whose plan was to fly to Pittsburgh.
“Our flight is still on time, but we are checking the app every couple minutes,” she said. “We are nervous, as we are traveling with two 1-year-olds, and any extra time on a plane would be horrible.”
Flight cancellations piled up at East Coast hubs. By midday Wednesday, around 250 flights had been canceled, according to the tracking website FlightAware.com.
And the weather in many places was improving as the day wore on.
The storm was expected to drop around 6 inches of snow in parts of West Virginia and western Pennsylvania and up to a foot in a pocket of upstate New York.
Damaging winds gusting up to 60 mph were expected to rip through Boston and other coastal areas.
Those winds could prevent the giant balloons from taking flight this year at the Macy’s parade. Safety rules that specify wind speeds were enacted in New York after a spectator was killed in 1997.
“This is a fairly typical storm for this time of year,” said Chris Vaccaro of the National Weather Service. “Obviously, it’s ill-timed because you have a lot of rain and snowfall in areas where people are trying to move around town or fly or drive out of town. … But fortunately, we’re at this point going to start seeing a steady improvement in conditions across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.”
Only a slight chance of snow showers was expected in the Akron area this morning, the weather service said. The forecast called for mostly cloudy skies, with a high near 29. Friday and Saturday might have partly sunny skies.