Rainy, windy East Coast weather could dampen holiday travel plans

Massive systems of wind and rain are expected to travel up the East Coast just in time for the holiday season.
Posted at 6:08 PM, Dec 15, 2023

Millions of Americans are hunkering down, preparing for heavy rain and strong winds as a major storm barrels towards the East Coast.

Christmas decorations were strewn about in Florida just a week before the holiday as the storm system packing winds of up to 40 miles per hour pushed toward the state.

Along the coast, there could be flooding and some strong rip currents, high surf and crashing waves.

The storm is already starting to slam into southern Florida, bringing heavy wind and up to five inches of rain in some parts of the state, with the heaviest downpours in the south.

The worst of the storm is expected to hit Florida Saturday into Sunday, with the peninsula bracing for possible tornadoes or damaging winds.

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The storm should move north over the mid-Atlantic and New York City area by Monday, but the rain and flash flooding is expected to be the big problem.

All eyes are on how airports will handle severe weather ahead of a potentially record-setting holiday travel rush.

The trade group Airlines for America predicts from Wednesday until Christmas day, nearly 3 million people will fly every day — a 16% jump from last year. 

Last year's holiday travel meltdown was mostly due to Southwest Airlines canceling nearly 17,000 flights over 10 days amid bad weather, costing the airline more than $1 billion.

Southwest's CEO swears there won't be a repeat this year as the company hired more staff, upgraded its back-end technology and has better winterized its fleet.