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Christmas Week Storm Threatens Holiday Travel Chaos

Heavy rain in Pacific Northwest threatens holiday travel plans 1:19

Lashing rains, high winds and thunderstorms look set to mess up holiday travel plans for millions of Americans this week as the country heads for a mostly wet — not white — Christmas. A large developing north-south cold front threatens to deliver rain and gusty winds along the Gulf Coast and snow in the Upper Midwest on Tuesday. The storm is then expected to move northeastward, battering the East Coast with wet and windy weather on Wednesday — right at the prime pre-holiday travel time.

"It’s going to be a rainmaker, for sure. There’s the threat of locally heavy rain and this system could be windy enough to disrupt travel at airports in the east,” said Roy Lucksinger, lead meteorologist at the Weather Channel.”

The developing storm already was causing disruption in Southern California, with locally gusting winds bringing down trees and power lines overnight. A high-wind warning was in effect through Monday morning with gusts of up to 75 mph, NBC Los Angeles reported. “The Gulf states are going to see the worst of that severe weather on Tuesday,” Lucksinger said.

Only a few areas are likely to see Christmas snow: the Midwest lakes and central Mississippi Valley during the Christmas eve day and later, on Christmas, the mountainous areas of the Northwest. “Much to the dismay of kids, it’s panning out to be a really wet and windy system,” Lucksinger said. A separate system was set to bring heavy rain to the Northwest on Christmas Day, but snow should be confined to mountain regions and significant disruption is unlikely, Lucksinder said.

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- Alastair Jamieson