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Approaching Nor’Easter Threatens Holiday Travel, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Heavy Rain, Gusty Winds Expected To Roll In Late Tuesday

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – A nor’easter threatens to hamper travel throughout the Tri-State area for the start of the Thanksgiving holiday, and could also put a damper on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

As CBS 2’s Lonnie Quinn reported, the storm was making its way into the Tennessee Valley on Monday, and was on track to move right into the Tri-State Area. A cloudy start was expected on Tuesday, and the brunt of the storm was expected to hit from Tuesday night through Wednesday afternoon, Quinn reported.

The storm will not bring snow, but will dump heavy rain on the area in amounts of 2 to 4 inches as winds gust up to 60 mph. Flooding is a risk for the area, Quinn reported. Some snow may come as the storm ends and temperatures drop dramatically on Thanksgiving Day.

A high wind watch has been issued for all five boroughs of the city, as well as the shoreline of Connecticut and the entirety of Long Island.

Thanksgiving Holiday Forecast (credit: AccuWeather)

Thanksgiving Holiday Forecast (credit: AccuWeather)

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EXTRA: Check The Forecast

All in all, the conditions might seem like a perfect excuse just to stay home. But given that the storm is expected to come the day before Thanksgiving, for many, staying home is not an option.

As CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported Monday night, inclement weather already has caused problems for travelers. A total of 500 canceled flights in Dallas alone already have had a ripple effect here at LaGuardia and other area airports causing delays.

Tanya Casares and her kids, Thalia and Charles, were planning to get from San Antonio to New York City for a big family reunion.

But they ended up stuck in Dallas in an icy layover.

“Our flight got changed three times,” Casares said. “It took us seven and a half hours to get here, but what matters is we’re here.”

But she has arrived just in time for this week’s unwelcome arrivals of rain wind and ice – a phenomenon that many travelers are not looking forward to.

Travelers such as college student Perri Sweed have been trying to plan everything just right to avoid getting stuck away from family.

“Definitely, before the snow and before it gets any worse there,” Sweed said. “Last year, I got a little caught up trying to come home, so this year we were prepared.”

To fly now and dodge the nasty weather was Sweed’s game plan, with a Dallas to LaGuardia itinerary that timed out perfectly.

“Definitely before the snow here and before it gets any worse there,” she said.

In icy Dallas, some were forced to sleep in the terminals.

“I look forward to Thanksgiving all year long, so having a day cut off this trip is not the best thing in the world for me,” said traveler Evan Van Doren.

Traveler Kate Gecolea advised travelers this week to “be prepared, do your research, and dress warmly.”

At LaGuardia Airport Monday, some flights were seeing delays of less than an hour. But the delays were expected to get worse.

But what about those planning to stay in the city, or come into the city, to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? As CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported, the iconic balloons may be nowhere in sight if conditions become too windy.

Organizers of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade are keeping a close eye on the weather.

“Based on the city’s guidelines, no giant character balloon will be operated when there are sustained wind conditions exceeding 23 mph and wind gusts exceeding 34 mph,” Macy’s said in a statement. “At this time, it is too early to make any determinations on the flight of the giant balloons.”

The long-awaited new balloons for this year took a test flight earlier this month at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J. The parade debut of Finn and Jake “Adventure Time” has been anxiously anticipated.

“I think it’s going to be cool,” said Cameron Meyer, who is visiting from California.

But the sight of the balloon may end up being limited to Cameron’s imagination.

Cameron’s mother, Viviana Meyer, said such an outcome would be “extremely disappointing, given how far we’ve traveled to get here.”

The city has revived parade protocols twice after balloon accidents. In 1997, a Manhattan mother ended up in a coma for 23 days when the Cat in the Hat balloon struck a light pole at 72nd Street and Central Park West – sending part of the lamppost crashing down and injuring four people in all, WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported.

In 2005, two sisters visiting from Albany were injured in a similar accident near Times Square, involving the M&M’s balloon.

Now, an NYPD sergeant walks with each group of balloon handlers to assist with safety.

“They can be lowered all the way to the ground, or the determination can be made not to fly, but we make it with (the Office of Emergency Management),” said police Commissioner Ray Kelly.

When he was in high school, Kelly handled a turkey balloon for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

“I’m proud of it,” said the police commissioner.

Kelly said the office and Macy’s will make the call based on conditions on parade day. Already at the Macy’s muster point on the Upper West Side, a windsock has been set up to keep track of conditions.

On Thursday, safety crews will have handheld wind-speed meters to gauge whether it is safe for the balloons to take flight.

Wind will not affect one event that has grown in popularity in recent years. The balloon inflation on the Upper West Side will take place no matter what on Wednesday.

In preparation for the windy weather, the Department of Buildings is reminding all builders, contractors, and property owners to secure construction sites and buildings. The department said it will perform random spot-check inspections of construction sites around the city.

Cold temperatures will ease off over the next couple of days, AccuWeather’s Dr. Joe Sobel reported.

Monday will stay cold with an expected high of 35, but temperatures are expected to reach the mid-40s Tuesday and mid 50s on Thursday before dipping back down into the 30s on Thanksgiving.

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(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)