Frightful weather threatens as holiday travel peaks

The weather outside is frightful in many parts of the country this weekend as rain, ice, heavy winds — and even tornadoes — threaten to dampen plans for holiday travelers and shoppers alike.

"A mixed bag of hazards will be possible across much of the U.S. on Saturday," the National Weather Service reported. "Severe weather with damaging winds and tornadoes will be possible from the Gulf Coast to the Ohio Valley."

Heavy rainfall that could cause flooding may affect parts of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas, as well as the lower Great Lakes. And moderate to heavy snow is expected in the Northwest, as well as parts of New England.

The wacky weather comes as holiday travelers are just about to hit the road.

Some 94.5 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home between today and Jan. 1, according to AAA estimates. About 85.8 million will make the trek by car, and another 5.53 million will go by air.

The hazardous weather also comes at a time when many shoppers are heading out for last-minute gifts. The Saturday before Christmas is traditionally the biggest spending day behind Black Friday, according to shopper analytics firm ShopperTrak.

But there is some jolly news for travelers and last-minutes shoppers in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic region.

Tourists and residents in New York City will have a partly sunny Saturday, with a high near 59 degrees. Philadelphia and Washington D.C. are slated to have unseasonably warm weather as well.

Some businesses are taking advantage of the balmy weather to attract folks to their holiday sales and other attractions. The Peddler's Village shopping area in Bucks County, Pa., sent out this tweet Saturday: "Perfect #holidayshopping weather at #PeddlersVillage."


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