Some Thanksgiving travelers along the East Coast headed out early because of a forecast calling for a nor'easter that will bring rain and snow.
"I was really getting nervous about getting stuck and not making it home for the holidays," said Jenna Bouffard, a Manhattan public relations executive who said she switched her bus ticket from Wednesday to Tuesday to avoid potential weather delays.
"I don't want to risk it," she said. "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" in Uxbridge, Massachusetts.
The National Weather Service's lead forecaster said major Northeast cities will likely see moderate to heavy rain most of Wednesday. Meteorologist Andrew Orrison says higher elevation areas west of the Interstate 95 corridor could see as much as 6 to 12 inches of snow.
Although the coast would see mostly rain, the Weather Service says the storm could leave a few inches of snow before exiting the region early Thursday.
"We're not looking at major cities seeing significant snowfall," Orrison said. "It will mostly be rain for big cities and then maybe a couple of slushy inches of accumulation in cities like Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York City."
Although the storm will be a nor'easter, Orrison said heavy winds were not in the forecast. Conditions were expected to improve by Thursday morning.
All the major U.S. airlines were closely monitoring the situation but have not yet canceled flights. American Airlines was allowing passengers flying to some Northeast cities on Wednesday to move their flight, for free, to Tuesday or Thursday.
In Vermont, public safety officials warned the public that travel could be treacherous. Up to 16 inches of snow was forecast in some areas of the state.
A nor'easter is expected to develop Wednesday along the East Coast just as millions of travelers are heading to their Thanksgiving destinations.
"I would pack your patience," said Robert Sinclair Jr., of AAA New York.
The storm, forecast to dump rain along the coast and snow inland, could cause delays at Northeast airports and along its busy highways. Precipitation was forecast to sweep in from the south Tuesday night into Wednesday morning and exit the region Thursday morning.
Jeff Masters, chief meteorologist for Weather Underground, said coastal cities are likely to mostly receive rain, although he cautioned Monday afternoon that meteorologists would be keeping a close eye on the rain/snow line.
"A small deviation in the track could change things dramatically," he said.
As of Monday, the highest amount of snow was expected to fall in northeastern Pennsylvania, the Catskills of upstate New York and into Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine. Ten inches was possible in some places, forecasters said.
Officials at the three major airports in the New York City area — Kennedy, LaGuardia and Newark Liberty — were "monitoring weather forecasts carefully," and were ready to take action if needed, said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airports.
Sinclair noted that an estimated 41.3 million travelers were expected to hit the nation's highways for the holiday weekend. That's a 4.3 percent increase over last year.
Sinclair suggested travelers consider going on Tuesday or Thursday, instead of Wednesday, if they can.