SILVER SPRING, Maryland: Forecasters have warned that Thanksgiving travel plans could be seriously disrupted by a "significant storm" and "strong cold front" that could strike the U.S. Northeast and Midwest this week.
According to the National Weather Service, the harsh weather is expected to begin this weekend and continue into early in the week, though its full extent and path have yet to be confirmed.
"This storm remains a prominent weather focus due to its timing right before Thanksgiving. Potential continues for a strong cold front and significant storm to affect the East early next week," the National Weather Service said on Wednesday.
Additionally, AccuWeather forecasters stated that the effects of the potential storm pattern could linger into the busiest travel day of the year, the day before Thanksgiving.
"We could be looking at a huge mess and a real wrench in holiday travel," said AccuWeather chief meteorologist Jon Porter, as reported by the New York Post.
Based on one scenario being tracked by forecasters, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, and even potentially parts of the Northeast, could experience heavy snow.
Forecasters also warned that Midwestern states will experience strong winds and low temperatures early on Saturday, and another scenario could see the storm evolve slowly over the Midwest on Sunday and Monday before bringing thunderstorms, high winds and low temperatures to the Northeast.
The high winds alone could be enough to cause delays at major air hubs in the East and Midwest in the days before Thanksgiving, forecasters further warned.
This Thanksgiving, some 54 million Americans are expected to travel, an increase of 13 percent from last year, the American Automobile Association said.
More than 4 million are expected to travel by air and 48 million on the nation's roads.