A terribly timed nor’easter could ruin your Thanksgiving

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Predicted heavy rain (green and blue), cold air (blue and red lines) and low pressure (black lines) on the evening before Thanksgiving could combine for a festive holiday storm for the northeast US.

Hang on to your hats (and/or your airline rebooking hotline number).

Apparently, since weather in the northeastern US has been relatively calm for a while, mother nature is considering rolling a season’s worth of storms into one.

Computer weather models are showing signs of a possible storm moving northeast from the northern Gulf of Mexico—which could combine with a harsh outbreak of Arctic cold from the Yukon headed south this weekend.

That idea is now backed by the National Weather Service, which shows a possible nor’easter (a major storm blowing with northeast winds off the US East Coast) on its official seven-day forecast map and calling the storm “a concern for travel” in a forecaster discussion message.

[Despite] dramatic variation [in the models]—some dry, cold solutions for the East Coast—some snowy ones from the Tennessee valley to the mid Atlantic—some rainy, windy ones all the way into New England. The wave will still affect major airports from Dallas to Atlanta, and probably the big hubs of the mid Atlantic region on the always-busy travel days before Thanksgiving.

At this point, the most likely scenario would be cold, wind-driven rain in the big coastal US cities, with up to a foot of snow stretching from inland New England as far south as the Carolinas. The cold would stick around after the storm exits, with high temperatures in the 20s and wind chills possibly in the single digits as far south as New Jersey on Black Friday.

According to this afternoon’s iteration of the Euro model (a meteorological model that famously predicted superstorm Sandy’s rare left hook into New Jersey six days out), at the storm’s peak, wind gusts on Cape Cod could approach hurricane force.

So when would the peak of the storm most likely hit? On the busiest American travel day of the year, of course, during arguably the busiest time window: Wednesday afternoon.

A lot would have to go right (or wrong, depending on your perspective) for the above scenario to materialize, but for a storm that’s still about a week away, the consistency in number-crunching over the past few days lends confidence to the notion that a storm will form; it’s just a matter of its track.

If snow falls on New York City’s Central Park, it will be the third consecutive year that the city experienced an abnormally early blast of winter weather. (Then again, the last time the Big Apple got more than five inches of snow before December 1st was in 1938.)

Of course, the storm outlook could change, given that it’s an advanced prediction. But if flying turkeys fill the skies of Gotham a week from today, remember you heard about it here.