Planes, trains and automobiles are expected to be fuller than previous years for the Thanksgiving weekend. More than 54 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, the most since 2005, according to AAA Travel.
Bill Sutherland, AAA Travel senior vice president, said in a press release that a good economy is leading to more trips in general, especially for holidays.
“Consumers have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season: Higher wages, more disposable income and rising levels of household wealth,” Sutherland said. “This is translating into more travelers kicking off the holiday season with a Thanksgiving getaway, building on a positive year for the travel industry.”
Travelers in the Umpqua Valley can expect a 100 percent chance of rain from Wednesday through Friday, according to the National Weather Service. Charles Smith, a meteorologist from the NWS, advised travelers to be especially mindful during the first rain.
“The first thing that we advertise when it rains a lot after it hasn’t rained for a while is to really slow down, because oil can build up on the roadways and rain can push it up to the surface,” Smith said. “So time to stop might increase. The oil will gradually wash away, but the water just makes it a bit harder to stop quickly, too.”
Gary Leaming, an Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman, said drivers should plan ahead this week.
“With the weather changing later tonight and tomorrow, it’s imperative that people prepare their vehicles,” Leaming said.
Part of that preparation includes a full tank of gas, a charger, water, snacks and plenty of rest.
Leaming said to add extra time to travel because of the weather, and to take frequent breaks.
Leaming said ODOT’s is also concerned is road grime lifting out of the pavement and making the road more slick than normal.
“If you’re going too fast, you could hydroplane,” Leaming said.
He said drivers should watch their speed and increase following distance.
Leaming said Thanksgiving is such a compressed holiday, with travelers driving on Wednesday and Thursday and returning home over the weekend.
Couple that with the Civil War football game in Corvallis and the roads will be clogged.
On the bright side, Smith said, unless people are traveling along the Cascades, they shouldn’t have any issues with snow.
“The roads along the Cascades, those will see snow that might make for more difficult traveling,” Smith said. “But if you’re traveling up and down I-5, you shouldn’t have a problem. Just be aware.”