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Heavy Rain, Winds Could Cause Thanksgiving Travel Headaches

By Ben Fractenberg | November 25, 2013 4:09pm
 A storm will bring heavy rain and winds Wednesday, the busiest travel day of the year.
A storm will bring heavy rain and winds Wednesday, the busiest travel day of the year.
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DNAinfo/Fred Dreier

MANHATTAN — A powerful storm system that is taking aim at the Big Apple could wreak havoc for holiday travelers and put a damper on the Thanksgiving Day Parade.

The storm, which is expected to hit Tuesday and Wednesday, may bring winds with gusts that may exceed 50 mph as well as up to 4 inches of rain by the time all is said and done.

A light rain during the evening rush hour Tuesday is expected to turn into heavy downpours and gusty winds by Wednesday morning, the busiest travel day of the year, a spokesman for the National Weather Service said.

An Amtrak spokesman said the rain is not expected to affect service Wednesday, though crews will be ready to help with any issues caused by the wind like downed trees.

The MTA also said they do not foresee delays to Metro-North or the subway system.

If you're flying out Wednesday make sure to check with your airline before heading to the airport, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said.

"The one thing we try to avoid at the airport is people stranded,"  PA spokesman Steve Coleman said.

Coleman added that the agency will make sure drains are unclogged and any loose objects are secured at the bridges and tunnels they oversee.

The FAA will determine whether the winds are too strong for flights to take off.

The rain will taper off by Thursday, but strong winds will remain throughout the morning, potentially affecting the Macy's parade.

"We are closely monitoring the weather as we do each year," parade spokesman Orlando Veras said in a statement. "Based on the city’s guidelines, no giant character balloon will be operated when there are sustained wind conditions exceeding 23 mph and wind gusts exceeding 34 mph."

A NYPD sergeant will be assigned to each balloon, according to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

"[The balloons] can be lowered all the way to the ground, or the determination is made not to fly," Kelly said during an unrelated press conference Monday. "I believe we are very much on top of that as a city, particularly after we had the events a few years ago when it knocked over a lamp and two people were injured.”

In 2005, two people were hurt when a balloon driven by winds hit a light pole, according to reports at the time. A similar incident in 1997 led to a change in the way the balloons were handled during inclement weathr.

Forecasters, however, said that the weather should calm down in time for the parade.

Weather Service spokesman Jeffrey Tongue said Wednesday will be a "pretty nasty day" but that the rain is expected to tapper off in the later afternoon.

Temperatures will be mild that day, though, reaching into the 60s. On Thanksgiving day, the mercury will plummet with highs in the mid to uppers 30s.