(NEW YORK) — A huge storm that dumped heavy snow and rain on the West Coast is expected to move east and could spoil travel plans for people looking to return home the day after Christmas, which is considered one of the busiest travel days.
The storm is forecast to move east over the next few days and drop snow in Oklahoma starting Monday before finishing up in the Northeast sometime Wednesday.
The Midwest will be covered with snow by Wednesday, likely causing delays at major airports in cities including Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis and Chicago just in time for post-Christmas travel, when millions of Americans will be on the move.
Snow could arrive in the Northeast by Thursday, dropping 1-3 inches over parts of New England.
In Syracuse, N.Y., plows are working overtime, dealing with two consecutive days of snow this weekend during the city’s first snowstorm of the season. As the city continues to dig out, all eyes are watching the storm roll in from the west.
Torrential rain and heavy winds have also caused trouble for California’s Bay Area over the weekend, which has seen severe flooding, power outages and delays for those planning to fly out for the holidays.
More than 400 flights were canceled on Sunday at San Francisco International Airport. Travelers had to deal with more than 200 cancellations on Saturday.
So far this month, San Francisco has gotten almost five inches of rain — almost twice as much as the area gets for the entire month of December.
Severe snow and rain are not the only issues facing Americans looking to get home before the New Year. Several states in the Gulf of Mexico, all the way from Houston to Raleigh, N.C., are bracing for possible tornadoes starting on Monday and lasting until Wednesday.
The biggest chance for tornadoes will be Tuesday from Houston to New Orleans to Birmingham, Ala., and Atlanta.
AAA predicts 93.3 million people will travel more than 50 miles this holiday season, from Saturday, Dec. 22, through New Year’s Day. That’s a 1.6 percent increase from last year.
Christmas is the third-busiest holiday for travelers, after Memorial Day and Thanksgiving. AAA is urging drivers to leave earlier or later to dodge bad weather.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jon Ostrower and Rene Marsh, CNN
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