Snow, Rain Threatening Millions of Thanksgiving Travelers

The forecast persuaded some airline passengers to alter plans.

— -- Wintry weather will bring massive delays for millions of Americans today, causing problems on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

More than 46 million Americans are expected to travel more than 50 miles away from home in the coming days, the country’s highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2007, according to AAA.

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Residents along the East Coast should expect heavy rain today from a nor’easter, with the rain changing to snow during the afternoon – and snow expected across parts of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and interior New England.

Some areas off the Atlantic coastline could see 4 to 8 inches of snow. Snow is also expected in the plains and Midwest, affecting parts of Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as the northern Rockies. Heavy, occasionally pounding rain is expected in the Pacific Northwest.

The East Coast storm is expected to pass through by Thursday, leaving travelers hopeful that their return trips will be uneventful.

But today’s travel outlook remains problematic. Nearly 2,500 flights were delayed by 8 a.m. ET, with another 555 canceled, according to the flight-tracking company FlightAware.Those numbers are slated to rise drastically in the coming hours as the storms bear down.

That impending weather prompted some flight passengers to stay home or alter their plans, refusing to take the chance.

"I don't want to risk it," said Jenna Bouffard, a New York City public relations executive who headed for her family home in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, a day earlier than she had planned. "I'd rather be safe than sorry, and if it doesn't snow, then I just have an extra day at home with my family."

Major airlines dropped their ticket-change fees for people flying in and out of the Northeast, allowing passengers to try to sneak on an earlier flight, although that appeared to be a challenging proposition because most planes were filled.

Yasha Rao was up for the travel challenge.

“I had three hours to scramble and get here, so it’s been fun,” Rao said after arriving at the airport.

Delta’s Atlanta Tower is prepared for the busy – and wet – day ahead.

“It is a perfect storm, but it all comes together with the training that we have,” Delta Tower Agent Jack Castro said. “That is where it is a test of our mettle.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.