Heavy rains, coastal flooding, wind gusts of up to 55 miles an hour, followed by arctic temperatures Friday night throughout the weekend are all colliding to spell out some miserable travel days ahead of the holiday weekend.
Several major airlines sent out advisories and waived fees to change flights, including American Airlines, Delta, United Airlines and Southwest. More than 160 flights to and from LaGuardia Airport Friday were already canceled by Thursday morning, according to FlightAware which tracks cancellations worldwide.
Rains are likely to begin Thursday afternoon. When the storm clears Friday, gusty winds and piercing temperatures will linger throughout the weekend, in what meteorologists are predicting will be the coldest Christmas since 1989, with temperatures only managing to climb up to 26 degrees.
Despite the cold, there’s no snow in the forecast for New York City beyond a minimal flurry, according to meteorologist Dominic Ramunni, with the National Weather Service.
“Unfortunately for the snow lovers, it looks predominantly wet,” he said.
The storm is expected to move over the New York City area Thursday afternoon into evening, with heavy rains and thunderstorms overnight and the possibility of more than two inches of precipitation. The rain will be accompanied by strong winds with gusts of up to 55 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service, which could lead to scattered power outages.
Coastal flood warnings are in effect Friday morning for New York City and much of the surrounding coastal areas during the high tide hours between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m. Friday morning, with the possibility of storm surges of up to two feet above ground level.
As the storm moves over the area Thursday and into Friday, temperatures will climb up to 55 degrees. But once things dry out by Friday afternoon, temps will plummet as an arctic air mass descends on the region, dropping by more than 30 degrees in a matter of hours.
“It’s going to be quite an exhilarating weather day for folks who are into that kind of thing,” Ramunni said.
Experts point to the potential for flash freezes on roadways if any lingering rain turns to ice as temperatures drop Friday. Ramunni said drivers should take extra care if they have to travel, especially on surfaces like bridges that freeze the easiest.
Vincent Gragnani, a spokesperson for the city sanitation department, said crews will be out Friday spreading rock salt to help prevent icy roadways across the city.
Temperatures Friday night will drop into the teens, but feel as low as zero or below with the wind, Ramunni said. Temperatures will hover in the teens overnight and the mid-twenties by day through Saturday and Sunday, climbing back up to 30 degrees Monday.
“This is going to be the coldest air mass of the season. You need to take proper cold safety precautions,” Ramunni warned. “It’s going to be a raw, bitterly cold weekend.”