Expect crowded roads, airports while traveling for Thanksgiving

Nov. 21—LIMA — Almost 2.3 million Ohioans are planning to travel for Thanksgiving, according to AAA estimates, a 2.3% increase from last year.

AAA and Accuweather experts are predicting decent conditions for the most part, but still are saying that travelers should be prepared for waits and crowded conditions.

"The vast majority of those folks will be driving to their destination," Kara Hitchens, Government and Public Affairs Manager for AAA said. "Roads are going to be crowded and airports will be crowded, as well."

Although the increase will be just short of the record number of 2.4 million travelers, Hitchens said that holiday travel trends are continuing to go up since the pandemic started.

"People still want to get back together with family and friends," she said. "While this isn't a record this year for Thanksgiving, it is an increase over last year. People are still making that commitment to get back together with family and friends."

Luckily, though, Accuweather Senior Meteorologist Tom Kines said that conditions look to be dry for much of the week.

"There might be some moisture returning for the second half of that weekend on Sunday, most likely in the form of rain, unless some cold enough air turns it into snow," he said. "But if that did happen, I can't imagine that would be a big deal. Across Ohio, it looks good, but the only rough spot is going to be out in the Denver area on Friday night where those folks could see some snow."

Hitchens advised travelers to be weather aware by staying up to date on their airline app in case of delays or cancellations.

"The airlines are doing an excellent job of keeping people informed," she said. "And if you're driving, you will have a break because gas prices are lower than they were last year. But we always tell people to make sure that your car's ready to go because you don't want to sit by the road with a broken down car on a holiday weekend."

But it also matters what day and time people are traveling, as AAA said that Wednesday looks to be the worst day to hit the road with trips potentially taking as much as four times longer due to commuters mixing with travelers.

"What we typically say is early morning or early evening," Hitchens said. "If you are a person who doesn't mind traveling in the evening and through the night, a lot less people are going to be on the road."

AAA is also warning against distracted driving, with the offense causing 1,000 injuries every day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

For more information on travel safety, visit the AAA website.

To stay up to date on weather conditions, visit the Accuweather website.

Reach Jacob Espinosa at 567-242-0399.