Busiest travel week of the year, and 20 million people face brutal weather. Here is what you need to know coast to coast

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(KLST/KSAN) – Mother Nature seems to always deliver weather at the worst possible time. Millions of travelers will get walloped by several storms across the country just in time for Thanksgiving.

The official start to winter is December 21, however, from California to Michigan, an estimated 20 million people are under winter weather advisories, watches or warnings. Have any travel plans for this week? Here is what to expect from coast to coast:

California: Flash floods and snow

A deep low pressure system will pummel California this week, bringing heavy snow in the mountains and heavy rain to the coast and valleys.

Up to 2 feet of snow could cover the mountains outside Los Angeles.

In Southern California, more than 10 million people are under flash flood watches from San Diego to Anaheim, where 1 to 3 inches of rain could put a damper on Thanksgiving.

The Rockies and the Midwest: A White Thanksgiving

Winter weather warnings are in effect for Denver, where a winter storm is projected to dump 10 to 15 inches of snow over the next few days.

Iowa and Michigan are also expected to get hammered with snow beginning Wednesday.

Further south in the Plains and Mississippi Valley, gusty winds and strong to severe storms will develop Tuesday into Wednesday.

The Northeast: Planes and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

Strong winds and rain could wreak havoc Wednesday for airline passengers in the Northeast.

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade may have to ground their massive, iconic balloons thanks to high winds. The balloons can not be flown when sustained winds exceed 23 mph and gusts exceed 34 mph, per New York City regulations.

There is good reason for this rule. In 1997, the Cat in the Hat balloon injured four people after intense winds forced the balloon astray.

Once the Northeast recovers from the brutal winds Wednesday and Thursday, travelers headed home Sunday will face another round of tumultuous wind and rain as a second system moves through the region.

Everywhere: Patience is a virtue

If you are driving to see loved ones this Thanksgiving, expect more company on the road.

AAA predicts the second-highest number of travelers in over a decade this Thanksgiving week.

The automobile associations expects 1.6 million more travelers on the road compared to last year, thanks in large part to lower gas prices.

Wednesday is expected to be the most congested day of the week, and cities such as Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Houston, and San Francisco could see more than three times their normal levels of traffic.

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