December 20, 2013

Foul weather begins to snarl U.S. holiday travel

While much of the East awoke Friday to unusually warm weather for this time of year, the region is next in a storm front’s crosshairs.

By Jim Salter
The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Passengers line up at ticket counters inside Terminal 3 at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago on Friday. Chicago was among three airports dealing with most of Friday’s delayed flights.

The Associated Press

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Keola Wong removes snow from the roof of his Bellemont, Ariz., home on Friday. A storm system dropped heavy snow in northern Arizona while Phoenix-area streets and highways were wet from rain during the morning commute.

The Associated Press

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In Vinita, Okla., on Friday, customers were lining for gas at Diamond Rio convenience store – a common practice when the weather forecast is bad for the region, which was expected to get ice and snow.

Oklahoma gets more than its share of nasty weather, and Vinita resident James Allen took the forecast in stride.

“Right now I don’t think it’s gonna be that bad,” he said. “Might be a little bit of ice and snow but I think it’ll melt off in a couple of days.”

Farther north, more traditional winter weather was the biggest worry. Kansas City, Mo., was bracing for freezing rain, then 6 inches of snow. In New England, Nikki Becker of the National Weather Service said much of Maine and parts of New Hampshire could get up to a half-inch of ice Saturday night through Sunday morning.

The timing couldn’t be worse. AAA is projecting record travel for this holiday period, and spokeswoman Heather Hunter said more than 90 percent of travelers will get there by car. She encouraged drivers to check the weather, not only at their destination but at points along the route, before heading out. Motorists should also make sure their vehicles are road trip-ready, especially the tread and air pressure on the tires. They should also make sure there is plenty of windshield washer fluid that won’t freeze.

The good news is that Christmas is mid-week.

“When a holiday falls on a Wednesday it gives travelers more flexibility of either leaving the weekend before, or traveling right before the holiday and extending the trip through the following weekend,” Hunter said.

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