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Updated: 11/28/2013 01:19:01AM

Rain, snow hit East

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East High School basketball player Amer Mandzic, a Bosnian immigrant originally from Sarajevo, center, laughs while talking with his teammates while volunteering at a free Thanksgiving dinner for members of the local community, sponsored by ANA Basketball, in the cafeteria at East High, downtown Denver, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2013. Mandzic's teammates are, left to right, Tye Miller, Drew Brinen, Ben Derubertis, Kobe Wright, and Kenneth Mackey. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

On the busiest travel day of the year, family and friends watch for arrivals of loved ones, at Denver International Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. Denver's airport was busy Wednesday with holiday travelers but storms on the East Coast did not ripple out into the widespread meltdown that had been feared. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

On the busiest travel day of the year, family and friends watch for arrivals of loved ones, at Denver International Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. Denver's airport was busy Wednesday with holiday travelers but storms on the East Coast did not ripple out into the widespread meltdown that had been feared. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

On the busiest travel day of the year, family and friends watch for arrivals of loved ones, at Denver International Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. Denver's airport was busy Wednesday with holiday travelers but storms on the East Coast did not ripple out into the widespread meltdown that had been feared. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

On the busiest travel day of the year, family and friends watch for arrivals of loved ones, at Denver International Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. Denver's airport was busy Wednesday with holiday travelers but storms on the East Coast did not ripple out into the widespread meltdown that had been feared. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

On the busiest travel day of the year, family and friends watch for arrivals of loved ones, at Denver International Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. Denver's airport was busy Wednesday with holiday travelers but storms on the East Coast did not ripple out into the widespread meltdown that had been feared. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

On the busiest travel day of the year, family and friends watch for arrivals of loved ones, at Denver International Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. Denver's airport was busy Wednesday with holiday travelers but storms on the East Coast did not ripple out into the widespread meltdown that had been feared. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

On the busiest travel day of the year, family and friends watch for arrivals of loved ones, at Denver International Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. Denver's airport was busy Wednesday with holiday travelers but storms on the East Coast did not ripple out into the widespread meltdown that had been feared. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

On the busiest travel day of the year, family and friends watch for arrivals of loved ones, at Denver International Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. Denver's airport was busy Wednesday with holiday travelers but storms on the East Coast did not ripple out into the widespread meltdown that had been feared. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

On the busiest travel day of the year, family and friends watch for arrivals of loved ones, at Denver International Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. Denver's airport was busy Wednesday with holiday travelers but storms on the East Coast did not ripple out into the widespread meltdown that had been feared. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Arianna Meredon, 9, of Albuquerque, N.M., pulls her roller bag as she makes her way through Love Field airport after arriving in Dallas, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. Meredon came for a visit to Dallas to attend an NFL football game and visit her aunt, who is a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

A United Airlines flight takes off from the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

With turkey themed hats, 5-year-old Rishi, and 3-year-old Ravi Chandra wheel their suitcases through terminal three Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, at O'Hare International airport in Chicago as they head to Austin, Texas with their parents. While the morning commute at O'Hare is running smoothly, a wall of storms packing ice, sleet and rain heading for the east coast and the north east could upend holiday travel plans as millions of Americans take to the roads, skies and rails Wednesday for Thanksgiving. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

FILE - In this Nov. 22, 2012, file photo, handlers keep a tight rein on the Sonic the Hedgehog balloon as it travels the route of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Macy’s says it is closely monitoring the weather after recent forecasts predicted wind gusts up to 30 mph on Thanksgiving morning during the department store’s upcoming Thanksgiving Day Parade. Based on New York City guidelines, no giant balloons will be operated if the wind gusts exceed 34 mph. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)

FILE - In this Nov. 22, 2012, file photo, handlers keep a tight rein on the Sonic the Hedgehog balloon as it travels the route of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Macy’s says it is closely monitoring the weather after recent forecasts predicted wind gusts up to 30 mph on Thanksgiving morning during the department store’s upcoming Thanksgiving Day Parade. Based on New York City guidelines, no giant balloons will be operated if the wind gusts exceed 34 mph. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)

FILE - In this Nov. 22, 2012, file photo, handlers keep a tight rein on the Sonic the Hedgehog balloon as it travels the route of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Macy’s says it is closely monitoring the weather after recent forecasts predicted wind gusts up to 30 mph on Thanksgiving morning during the department store’s upcoming Thanksgiving Day Parade. Based on New York City guidelines, no giant balloons will be operated if the wind gusts exceed 34 mph. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)

FILE - In this Nov. 22, 2012, file photo, handlers keep a tight rein on the Sonic the Hedgehog balloon as it travels the route of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Macy’s says it is closely monitoring the weather after recent forecasts predicted wind gusts up to 30 mph on Thanksgiving morning during the department store’s upcoming Thanksgiving Day Parade. Based on New York City guidelines, no giant balloons will be operated if the wind gusts exceed 34 mph. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)

FILE - In this Nov. 22, 2012, file photo, handlers keep a tight rein on the Sonic the Hedgehog balloon as it travels the route of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Macy’s says it is closely monitoring the weather after recent forecasts predicted wind gusts up to 30 mph on Thanksgiving morning during the department store’s upcoming Thanksgiving Day Parade. Based on New York City guidelines, no giant balloons will be operated if the wind gusts exceed 34 mph. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)

FILE - In this Nov. 22, 2012, file photo, handlers keep a tight rein on the Sonic the Hedgehog balloon as it travels the route of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Macy’s says it is closely monitoring the weather after recent forecasts predicted wind gusts up to 30 mph on Thanksgiving morning during the department store’s upcoming Thanksgiving Day Parade. Based on New York City guidelines, no giant balloons will be operated if the wind gusts exceed 34 mph. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)

FILE - In this Nov. 22, 2012, file photo, handlers keep a tight rein on the Sonic the Hedgehog balloon as it travels the route of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Macy’s says it is closely monitoring the weather after recent forecasts predicted wind gusts up to 30 mph on Thanksgiving morning during the department store’s upcoming Thanksgiving Day Parade. Based on New York City guidelines, no giant balloons will be operated if the wind gusts exceed 34 mph. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)

FILE - In this Nov. 22, 2012, file photo, handlers keep a tight rein on the Sonic the Hedgehog balloon as it travels the route of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Macy’s says it is closely monitoring the weather after recent forecasts predicted wind gusts up to 30 mph on Thanksgiving morning during the department store’s upcoming Thanksgiving Day Parade. Based on New York City guidelines, no giant balloons will be operated if the wind gusts exceed 34 mph. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)

FILE - In this Nov. 22, 2012, file photo, handlers keep a tight rein on the Sonic the Hedgehog balloon as it travels the route of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Macy’s says it is closely monitoring the weather after recent forecasts predicted wind gusts up to 30 mph on Thanksgiving morning during the department store’s upcoming Thanksgiving Day Parade. Based on New York City guidelines, no giant balloons will be operated if the wind gusts exceed 34 mph. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)

A man sleeps at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A man sleeps at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A man sleeps at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A man sleeps at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A man sleeps at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A man sleeps at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A man sleeps at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A man sleeps at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A man sleeps at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A man sleeps at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A man sleeps at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A man sleeps at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A man sleeps at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A man sleeps at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A man sleeps at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A man sleeps at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Tara Fitzsimons, a 20-year-old student who is traveling to Chicago, reads a book on her iPad while waiting in line to check in at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Tara Fitzsimons, a 20-year-old student who is traveling to Chicago, reads a book on her iPad while waiting in line to check in at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Tara Fitzsimons, a 20-year-old student who is traveling to Chicago, reads a book on her iPad while waiting in line to check in at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Tara Fitzsimons, a 20-year-old student who is traveling to Chicago, reads a book on her iPad while waiting in line to check in at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Tara Fitzsimons, a 20-year-old student who is traveling to Chicago, reads a book on her iPad while waiting in line to check in at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Tara Fitzsimons, a 20-year-old student who is traveling to Chicago, reads a book on her iPad while waiting in line to check in at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Tara Fitzsimons, a 20-year-old student who is traveling to Chicago, reads a book on her iPad while waiting in line to check in at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

On the busiest travel day of the year, family and friends watch for arrivals of loved ones, at Denver International Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. Denver's airport was busy Wednesday with holiday travelers but storms on the East Coast did not ripple out into the widespread meltdown that had been feared. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

FILE - In this Nov. 22, 2012, file photo, handlers keep a tight rein on the Sonic the Hedgehog balloon as it travels the route of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York. Macy’s says it is closely monitoring the weather after recent forecasts predicted wind gusts up to 30 mph on Thanksgiving morning during the department store’s upcoming Thanksgiving Day Parade. Based on New York City guidelines, no giant balloons will be operated if the wind gusts exceed 34 mph. (AP Photo/Charles Sykes, File)

A man sleeps at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Tara Fitzsimons, a 20-year-old student who is traveling to Chicago, reads a book on her iPad while waiting in line to check in at the Los Angeles International Airport on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Los Angeles. More than 43 million people are to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

A plane takes off over a departure board at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, in Atlanta. Rain and snow on the East Coast did not ripple out into the widespread meltdown that had been feared Wednesday. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Wet, wintry weather blows into Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. Bands of heavy rain, ice and snow are barreling up the East Coast as millions of Americans take to the roads, skies and rails for Thanksgiving. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

On the busiest travel day of the year, family and friends watch for arrivals of loved ones, at Denver International Airport, Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. Denver's airport was busy Wednesday with holiday travelers but storms on the East Coast did not ripple out into the widespread meltdown that had been feared. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

Holiday travelers scurry to Amtrak’s Union Station as a wet and blustery storm along the East Coast made driving hazardous and tangled up hundreds of flights, in Washington,Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013. Bands of heavy rain, ice and snow are barreling up the East Coast as millions of Americans take to the roads, skies and rails for Thanksgiving. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

By MICHELLE R. SMITH

and JASON KEYSER

Text Size:


PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A wet and blustery storm along the East Coast made driving hazardous and tangled up hundreds of flights Wednesday but didn’t cause the all-out gridlock many Thanksgiving travelers had feared.

Many travelers marveled at how orderly and anxiety-free the airports were during what is typically one of the busiest days of the year.

One big question lingered in New York: Will high winds ground Snoopy and the other giant cartoon-character balloons at the Macy’s parade on Thanksgiving Day?

The storm for the most part unleashed wind-driven rain along the Northeast’s heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor from Richmond, Va., to the tip of Maine.

Emerging from the weather gauntlet was Katie Fleisher, who made it by car from Portsmouth, N.H., through rain and fog to Boston’s Logan Airport with little trouble and discovered to her amazement that the panicked, cranky crowds she expected were nonexistent.

“We thought it would be busier here. But there’ve been no lines, and it has been really quiet all morning,” said Fleisher, whose plan was to fly to Pittsburgh.

“Our flight is still on time, but we are checking the app every couple minutes,” she said. “We are nervous, as we are traveling with two 1-year-olds, and any extra time on a plane would be horrible.”

The storm was expected to drop around 6 inches of snow in parts of West Virginia and western Pennsylvania and up to a foot in a pocket of upstate New York.

Damaging winds gusting up to 60 mph were expected to rip through Boston and other coastal areas.

Those winds could prevent the giant balloons from taking flight this year at the Macy’s parade. Safety rules that specify wind speeds were enacted in New York after a spectator was killed in 1997 in an accident involving an out-of- control balloon.

Flight cancellations piled up at East Coast hubs. By midday Wednesday, around 250 flights had been canceled, according to the tracking website FlightAware.com.

But that was a tiny fraction of the nearly 32,000 flights that were scheduled to, from or within the U.S. on Wednesday, the site said. And the weather in many places was improving as the day wore on.

Most of the cancellations involved Newark, N.J., Philadelphia and New York’s LaGuardia Airport.

The longest delays affected Philadelphia-bound flights, which were being held at their points of origin for an average of about two hours because of the weather, according to the website.

The Philadelphia area was under a flood watch, with 2 to 3 inches of rain forecast before falling temperatures turn precipitation to snow.

Roads there were snarled. A deadly multivehicle crash that authorities said happened when a car hit standing water and spun out of control closed the westbound lanes of the Schuylkill Expressway for a while, and the eastbound lanes were shut down for several hours because of flooding.

The storm, which developed in the West over the weekend, has been blamed for at least 11 deaths, five of them in Texas.

But as it moved east, it wasn’t as bad as feared.

“This is a fairly typical storm for this time of year,” said Chris Vaccaro of the National Weather Service. “Obviously, it’s ill-timed because you have a lot of rain and snowfall in areas where people are trying to move around town or fly or drive out of town. ... But fortunately, we’re at this point going to start seeing a steady improvement in conditions across the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.”

More than 43 million people are expected to travel over the long holiday weekend, according to AAA. About 39 million of those will be on the roads, while more than 3 million people are expected to fly.

Travelers had some things to be thankful for this year.

The Federal Aviation Administration last month lifted restrictions on most personal electronic devices during takeoffs and landings, and some airlines, including American, have already begun allowing passengers to stay powered up from gate to gate.

And on the ground, gas prices dipped to an average of $3.29 a gallon.

———

Keyser reported from Chicago. Associated Press Writers Tracee Herbaugh in Boston, Don Babwin in Chicago, and Kristi Eaton in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.


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