A powerful storm with strong winds is expected to rip through the region during one of the busiest travel days of the holiday season, as meteorologists warn travelers that it won’t be the best day to hit the roads.
The low-pressure system is set to bring heavy rainfall, gusty winds, and coastal flooding to southern New England from late Thursday night through Friday.
Some snow and ice is possible at the start of the storm before the switchover to rain.
“We’ll see heavy rain, and it’ll be very windy as well,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist John Feerick told the Herald on Sunday, noting that gusts could hit 50 mph along the coast. “Anybody traveling for Christmas could have some travel issues.”
Ahead of the storm, the first few days of the workweek will be dry — with blustery and seasonably chilly weather through Tuesday. High pressure then settles over New England on Wednesday, with diminishing winds and still seasonable temps.
“Things start going downhill from there,” Alan Dunham, meteorologist in the National Weather Service’s Boston office, said about the conditions coming late Thursday and into Friday.
“It won’t be a good travel day,” he added about Friday. “But at least it will be rain.”
High astronomical tides will also bring the potential for some coastal flooding with this storm system.
“A strong storm will impact us late Thu into Fri,” NWS Boston tweeted on Sunday. “A bit of snow/ice is possible at the onset across the interior, but an inland track favors mainly rain along with a period of potentially strong winds & mild temps.”
AAA expects this year will be the third busiest year for holiday travel since AAA began tracking in 2000. More than 4.25 million New Englanders will be among those traveling — 3.7 million by car, both up from a year ago.
“This year, travel time will be extended due to Christmas Day and New Year’s Day falling on Sundays,” said Patti Artessa, AAA Northeast director of Public and Government Affairs. “With hybrid work schedules, we are seeing more people take long weekends to travel because they can work remotely at their destination and be more flexible with the days they depart and return.”
Nearly 102 million Americans will drive to their holiday destinations. Despite roller-coaster gas prices in 2022, this holiday season will see an additional 2 million drivers compared to 2021. In Massachusetts, the average price for a regular gallon of gas is now $3.45, down from $3.83 a month ago and similar to last year’s price of $3.39.