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Travelers trying to get a head start on their Thanksgiving trips are facing a dangerous road ahead as snowstorms batter the southwest and threaten the southern plains in the next few days.

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The snowstorm is expected to intensify Saturday over the four corners region that connects Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico before delivering freezing rain and icy roads throughout the southern plains.

The system will then slog through the southeast, bringing flooding rains and thunderstorms to Georgia and states along the Gulf Coast just as Americans are making their final dashes home for Thanksgiving.

AAA estimates 43.4 million Americans will travel 50 or more miles from home between Wednesday and Dec. 1.

"It's sort of like throwing the whole kitchen sink out there," said Mark Ressler, lead meteorologist at The Weather Channel. "With air travel leading up to those last days before Thanksgiving and people out on the roads, just a messy midweek for them."

The only bright spot?

"Thanksgiving is going to be quiet across the country," he said.

Forecasters said parts of both California and Arizona can also expect more severe weather, with winter storm warnings through midday Saturday in the mountains and the Antelope Valley foothills northeast of Los Angeles.

At least three people were killed when the storm hit California on Thursday. One woman was sitting in a parked car Thursday in Yuba County when a tree branch snapped and fell on the car.

In Oakland, one person was found dead near downed power lines and another crashed his vehicle into a fallen tree while apparently trying to avoid debris, news reports and officials said.

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