Bomb cyclone: Thanksgiving travelers hit with strong winter storms

Passengers wait to pass through security gates at San Francisco International Airport, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. Northern California residents are bracing for a 'bomb cyclone.'
Caption
Passengers wait to pass through security gates at San Francisco International Airport, Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019. Northern California residents are bracing for a 'bomb cyclone.'

Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Credit: AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

As an estimated 50 million people travel over the Thanksgiving weekend, forecasters are warning of two strong winter storms that will bring rain, ice, snow and wind as they move across the country.

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The National Weather Service said that the systems — one tacking up the Great Lakes and into New England on Wednesday, and the other that came in from the Pacific and is heading toward western states – could affect more than 230 million Americans.

The systems’ impacts are expected to be felt for the entire Thanksgiving weekend as both of the storms make their way east across the country.

The NWS stressed that in some regions, holiday travel could be dangerous, if not impossible.

The second storm, the one that hit California on Tuesday, was classified as a “bomb cyclone” according to the NWS. It brought record winds and rainfall to the state. It will make its way to much of the Midwest by Friday and Saturday.

A bomb cyclone forms when a weather system undergoes a rapid drop in pressure. The drop is called explosive cyclogenesis, or bombogenesis. The drop in pressure makes the storm more intense.

The bomb cyclone is moving east on the heels of the first storm, a powerful winter storm, that hit the Denver area Tuesday, closing the airport and stranding travelers for a time. By Wednesday, that storm had begun to move east.

Highways and schools were closed across western states, as the NWS urged people to delay or cancel their travel plans.

Flights are expected to be grounded or canceled as the storms move across the country, causing a headache for millions of holiday travelers.

Southwest Airlines canceled about 200 flights on Tuesday, according to reporting from The Associated Press. Spokesman Brad Hawkins said it would take “a couple of days” to get stranded passengers on other flights because there are few during the pre-Thanksgiving travel crush.

About 1,100 people spent the night at the Denver airport, including many cadets from the Air Force Academy in nearby Colorado Springs who either missed flights or wanted to get to the airport before road conditions deteriorated, airport spokeswoman Alex Renteria said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.