Thanksgiving travel plans across the U.S. East Coast could turn into a major disaster starting early Wednesday as Winter Storm Cato develops. The storm is expected to spread rain and snow combined with low clouds and blustery winds along the northeast, with parts of New England anticipating up to 10 inches.
Airlines – so far, American Airlines, Delta Airlines and JetBlue – have even started letting passengers with Wednesday flights switch to other days without a fee.
Though it would be ideal for everyone to stay home, toasty in bed during the storm, we know it’s the holidays: Everyone simply can’t stay home. So if you are still planning on hitting the wintry roads or have a flight to catch, we have some advice for you:
1. Expect The Worst
The Weather Channel warns the weather will likely “cause severe delays at already-crowded airports up and down the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast coast.” So, expect the worst – you’ll be better equipped to handle it once it hits. Bring cards, cash, entertainment, chargers, and patience – the weather is notoriously fickle.
But above all, plan accordingly. Like we mentioned before, some airlines have announced waivers enabling guests to shift their flights from Wednesday to either Tuesday or Thanksgiving Day itself. If your schedule is flexible, call the airline and try to make a suitable change.
2. They Cancelled Your Flight
So, you expected the worst and then it showed up at your door like an annoying ex – one you didn’t plan accordingly for. A.K.A.: You didn’t listen to what we said above. Well, lucky for you, we have some help for this situation as well. One: Check to see if you have already been rescheduled by the airline via telephone, email, or their website. And two: Skip the long lines filled with frustrated travelers and try rebooking online. If you’re tech savvy, give your airline a holler on Twitter for some help
3. Take Precaution
This one’s for you, drivers. We know you’ve definitely heard this before, but it can’t hurt to repeat it: Drive slow and be extra careful. Don’t try to be a hero or challenge Mother Nature’s forces. Check for black ice and hold your steering wheel firmly. If stranded or stuck, stay in your vehicle.
“You should also keep moving to stay warm,” says Alphonso Lewis, a YRC Freight professional driver. “To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and open a downwind window slightly for ventilation. Run your engine for only 10 minutes each hour.”
4. Pack Extra
Be prepared for delays, cancellations, and being stranded in a vehicle or elsewhere by packing some extra clothing, necessary toiletries, medication, travel documents, and your personal information. Better to be safe than sorry, right?