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Thanksgiving travel delays seem likely as winter storm barrels toward N.J.

It’s going to be a wet Wednesday in New Jersey. (

A deadly winter storm that hammered the West will arrive over New Jersey by Thanksgiving, likely making a cold, wet mess of holiday travel plans before blowing out to sea, forecasters said today.

But for the glass-half-full crowd, here’s a grain of decent news: Meteorologists believe most of the state will see only rain and be spared the weather system’s snow-producing potential.

That won’t be the story for everywhere, though. For those north of Route 78 — especially in the western portions of the state — snow, ice and sleet are likely in the mix, said Walter Drag, a metrologist with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly.

There may be some air travel delays, Drag said. And as the precipitation arrives Tuesday and lasts into Wednesday, that rain will not be doing any favors for drivers. There could be heavy downpours at times all along the Route 95 corridor, with somewhere between 1 to 3 inches of rain falling on most of the East Coast, he said. Add to that heavy winds, and the busiest travel week of the year could get ugly.

“A pretty potent situation,” Drag said.

The snow is expected to be worst in the Appalachian Mountains, meaning travel through parts of Central Pennsylvania and Upstate New York may be treacherous.

And it may mean a nasty mix for northwestern New Jersey. The forecast this evening called for a chance of snow Tuesday morning there, then gradually changing to sleet by evening, Drag said. There could be some freezing rain lingering into the evening, with snow showers possible Wednesday night, he said. Thanksgiving should be dry.

There’s a chance the storm’s track could change the forecast and drop a rain-snow mix on the state, Jim Bunker, another meteorologist at the weather service’s Mount Holly office, said earlier in the day. No matter what, people should prepare, he said.

“The biggest thing is, if folks are planning to travel to higher elevations like to the Poconos, make sure they have good snow tires or chains, and make sure they check the road conditions before leaving,” Bunker said.

There’s a potential that drainage issues in rainy areas could lead to road flooding, he added.

“It’s common sense that with this significant weather coming, there could be travel delays,” Bunker said. “So folks need to pay attention to what’s going on with the forecast.”

Star-Ledger staff writer Tom Wright-Piersanti contributed to this report

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