High winds, rain, could disrupt Thanksgiving holiday travel

File photo by Susan Safford

Updated 3:05 pm Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The National Weather Service has updated its forecast, now predicting even higher winds for the Thanksgiving travel period. An intensifying winter storm with high winds and heavy rain has the potential to disrupt Thanksgiving holiday travel, including Steamship Authority (SSA) ferries. The SSA advises travelers to keep a close watch on possible changes in ferry service.

SSA info: (508) 548-3788 or (508) 693-0367

Current SSA cancellations and conditions

Forecast from the National Weather Service

The weather service issued a wind advisory today (Tuesday) that takes effect at midnight tonight and remains in effect until 7 pm Wednesday. In its 11 am advisory, forecasters increased their predictions for the force of the expected winds. They now anticipate southeast winds of 30-40 miles per hour, with gusts up to 60 miles per hour likely.

“Winds this strong are capable of downing small tree limbs and branches, possibly causing isolated power outages,” according to the weather service. “Driving can also be difficult, especially for high profile vehicles.

The weather service predicts 100 percent chance of rain beginning late tonight, with one to two inches of rain forecast for Wednesday.

A gale warning is posted for marine interests. A gale warning means winds of 40 to 54 miles per hour are imminent. U.S. Coast Guard pilots from Air Station Cape Cod are already conducting “storm track warning” overflights to evaluate fishing and commercial vessels at sea, and advise them of approaching weather conditions.

“Low pressure currently over the Gulf Coast will lift northeast across New England late tonight and Wednesday,” according to the weather service. “It will bring with it a period of southerly gale force wind gusts and high seas. A strong cold front will move across the waters late Wednesday night, followed by westerly gale force wind gusts into Thanksgiving. Large high pressure will then build in from the west Friday and Saturday, as winds and seas diminish.”

The hazardous weather alerts cover central and eastern Massachusetts, all of Rhode Island, and northeastern Connecticut.

Forecasters predict a mix of rain and snow tonight and tomorrow in northern New England.

While temperatures could reach 62 degrees on the Island Wednesday, forecasters predict unseasonably cold temperatures once the storm moves through on Thanksgiving day, with temperatures reaching only the 30s through the weekend.