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Major storms to impact Christmas travel, business operations in parts of U.S.



With record-breaking Christmas holiday travel anticipated, AccuWeather’s meteorologists warn businesses, particularly in the airline and retail sectors, to prepare for impacts on operations.

Key Highlights

AAA projects the busiest-ever holiday season for air travel in 2023 - with potential disruption and delays posing challenges for airlines managing an influx of passengers.

While the East Coast anticipates smooth travel conditions around major hubs, the Southwest faces disruptions.

The weekend brings mixed conditions, with storms in the Northwest and Southwest leading to snow, rain, and poor travel conditions.

The busiest-ever holiday season for air travel in 2023

The Christmas travel season is anticipated to be one of the busiest on record, with potential disruptions mixed with more favorable conditions across the United States. AccuWeather's meteorologists warn businesses in the airline and retail industries could see impacts in operations. 

Businesses, especially in the airline and retail sectors, should brace for the impact of these weather conditions. Delays and disruptions in air travel could ripple through supply chains, affecting retail operations during a critical holiday shopping period. 

AAA predicts this will be the busiest-ever holiday season for air travel in 2023. The potential disruption and delays pose challenges for airlines managing an influx of passengers.

Storm to bring heavy rain, triggering flash flooding to Southwest 

A moisture-packed storm will move into the West Coast, bringing soggy conditions to Central and Southern California. AccuWeather meteorologists caution that substantial rainfall poses the threat of flash flooding throughout Southern California, particularly in the vicinity of Los Angeles, until Friday night. There is also a potential for thunderstorms, some of which may intensify, resulting in hail and isolated tornadoes. The onset of rain will extend into the Southwest deserts from Friday into Friday night, bringing wet conditions to areas such as Phoenix.


AccuWeather forecasters expect most areas near the Central and Southern California coasts and just inland and in a portion of south-central Arizona to receive up to 2 inches of rain. A smaller portion in Southern California near Los Angeles can receive up to 12 inches, with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 14 inches. Businesses should prepare for flash flooding, risk of mudslides, and road closures. 


Businesses in the path of this storm should prepare for the following: 

  • Tornado potential should be watched closely; keep sheltering options in mind
  • Business interruption due to extended power outages can be expected 
  • Expect ground logistics disruption due to road closures, downed trees and power outages
  • Loss of Inventory due to flooding - If your warehouse is in a low-lying area, precautions should be taken

Storms converge to bring accumulating snow to the Rockies and Plains 

The same storm bringing heavy rain to Southern California and the Southwest deserts and another one moving through the Northwest will combine over the Rockies and Plains this weekend. AccuWeather forecasters warn it will then spread disruptive, accumulating snow and rain from the central Rockies into the Plains through Christmas.


Snow will spread into the central Rockies during the day on Saturday. By Saturday night and Sunday, the snow will begin to arrive across portions of the Plains before moving out by Christmas morning. Accumulations will be locally significant, slowing travel. Portions of half a dozen states, including the Denver metropolitan area, will experience plowable snow, with the heaviest amounts expected in the Colorado Rockies, where up to 18 inches is expected, with an AccuWeather Local Storm Max™ of 28 inches.


The threat of accumulating snow will impact holiday travel both by car and plane this weekend from the Intermountain West to the Plains. Given that Denver International Airport is a major hub, it could have a ripple effect on air travel elsewhere across the nation on the day before Christmas.


Businesses in the path of this storm should prepare for the following: 

  • Retail: Shovel and salt walkways, dry high-traffic areas inside near your entrance, and keep all floors clear to help prevent falls and reduce liability.
  • Extended power outages caused by downed power lines can result in business interruptions.
  • Ground logistics disruption from drifting snow, downed trees, and power outages due to road closures.

East Coast to see favorable conditions for businesses and travelers 

Thursday and Friday are expected to offer favorable conditions for many travelers, thanks to high pressure creating calm weather throughout most of the East Coast. Major travel hubs in the East, including Washington, D.C., New York City, Boston, and Atlanta, will likely experience minimal weather-related delays or cancellations.

Make the best-informed decisions with AccuWeather’s SkyGuard Notifications, with proven Superior Accuracy™.

AccuWeather’s SkyGuard® Notifications are valuable for businesses preparing for severe weather events. The service provides customized weather forecasts and alerts tailored to your specific location and industry, helping you make informed decisions about when to close your business, evacuate your employees, and take other protective measures.

When snow and ice threaten your operations, turn to AccuWeather's Snow Warning Service to make the best winter weather-impact decisions every time. AccuWeather For Business offers location-specific forecasts and 24x7x365 consulting services for snow, ice, blizzards, and other winter-hazard events.  

Want to learn more about how AccuWeather can help your business prepare for severe weather threats? Contact one of our experts today.

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