January 21, 2022

On the highway for holiday

Expect more traffic, but good weather for Thanksgiving

Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

Traffic heads south Friday on Interstate 81. The American Automobile Association expects travel to be up to nearly pre-pandemic levels, and advises drivers to start before noon Wednesday or wait until Thursday to avoid traffic.

If you want to be thankful on Thursday, and you’re traveling on Wednesday, make sure you check the weather, inspect the tires, plan ahead and stay cautious.

AAA Western and Central New York’s Director of Travel Brian Murray said the roads and airports will be very busy the day before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after. Peak road congestion will be 1:30 to 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The American Automobile Association expects 53.4 million Americans to travel this Thanksgiving — 6.4 million more than in 2020, but 2.5 million fewer than 2019.

“The expectation is that people have had a yearning for travel and getting out,” Murray said. “We’ve all traveled a little bit in the last few months, and airports and roadways are crowded. Definitely, people are looking forward to this Thanksgiving and people with loved ones all across the country.”

Despite recent warnings of significant storms coming to New York, the forecast is for a sunny, yet chilly holiday.

“I don’t know why that got out there,” said Michael Murphy, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Binghamton. Friday afternoon, his forecast for Central New York showed a brief taste of winter early in the week, warming up by Thursday.

“We’re going to see some scattered rain showers Monday morning, mixing in and changing to scattered snow showers Monday night that might transition to lake effect snow showers Monday night,” Murphy said. “It’s a little early to tell exactly where it’s heading, but a few inches of snow are definitely possible that Monday night going into Tuesday.”

The temperature is expected to drop to the mid-20s Monday night, coming back up to the mid-40s by Thanksgiving day, he said.

For people traveling on the roads this week, Murphy recommends checking the local weather online at www.weather.gov/BGM and being prepared for wintry weather and wind early in the week.

AAA expects 90% of Thanksgiving travelers to travel by car — about 48.3 million Americans — an 8.4% increase from 2020.

A tip that AAA representative April Engram likes to share with travelers is to always plan your trip, including knowing the latest COVID-19 regulations.

“Know the requirements and recommendations of your specific destination,” Engram said. AAA has a COVID restrictions map at http://triptik.aaa.com/ for travelers who are going just a county over or are even traveling out of state.

Drivers should also be aware of dangers on the road, including deer and other animals.

Opening day of regular season deer hunting began today and will stir the deer population, which is already active due to mating season, according to AAA.

“Keeping your speed down will give you more time to respond to unexpected wildlife movements,” reports AAA. “Can’t avoid a collision? Apply the brakes firmly and remain in your lane. Swerving sharply to avoid an animal can often cause a more serious crash.”