Thanksgiving travellers brush off winter storm

image captionTravellers in New York faced wind and rain as they commuted for the Thanksgiving holiday

A winter storm that had threatened Thanksgiving travel gridlock on the US East Coast has so far proven less troublesome than originally feared.

High winds and rain have delayed hundreds of flights but have failed to cause commuting misery on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

A National Weather Service official called it a "fairly typical storm for this time of year".

More than 43 million Americans will travel during the holiday.

The storm, which developed on the West Coast over the weekend and has been blamed for nearly a dozen deaths, may still dump heavy snow on parts of the East Coast.

Icy roads

About 6in (15cm) of snow is forecast for parts of West Virginia and western Pennsylvania, while up to 1ft could fall in a pocket of upstate New York.

More than 250 flights were delayed on Wednesday along the East Coast, far fewer than the thousands originally predicted.

Travellers had been braced for long waits at the airport, but many were left pleasantly surprised.

"We thought it would be busier here but there've been no lines, and it has been really quiet all morning," Katie Fleisher told the Associated Press news agency at Boston's Logan airport.

But meteorologists warned that falling temperatures could create icy road conditions for those who put off travel until Wednesday evening.

The Boston area is forecast to face 60mph (97km/h) winds. And the city of Philadelphia in Pennsylvania state has been placed under flood watch.

The storm is also threatening a time-honoured Thanksgiving tradition: the New York Macy's Thanksgiving parade.

New safety rules following a 1997 serious injury caused by a windblown balloon could prevent their use on Thursday if gusts are too high.

Thanksgiving has been marked for hundreds of years, and is generally thought to commemorate a 1621 harvest feast the pilgrims shared with Indians after settling at Plymouth, in what is now Massachusetts.

The modern festival sees millions of people travel to be with family, eat turkey feasts, watch NFL football matches and - in recent years - plan or even begin their assault on the holiday sales.

image captionThe Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons are being inflated - but will it be too windy for them to take off on Thursday?

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