Millions of people are expected to travel to airports and on highways in record numbers over the upcoming Thanksgiving break.
The Transportation Security Administration expects 2.6 million passengers to be screened Tuesday and 2.7 million Wednesday. Sunday will be the busiest travel day, with an estimated 2.9 million passengers, which would narrowly pass a previous record set June 30, The Associated Press reported.
On the ground, AAA expects more than 55.4 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles between Wednesday and the Sunday after Thanksgiving. They also predict roads will most likely be clogged Wednesday.
The record-highs come as a storm system stretches across the country, bringing severe thunderstorms, wind and possible snow from the southern Plains to the Northeast over the next several days.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the severe storms could affect flights in the South and the East Coast starting Tuesday.
The National Weather Station prediction center said the lead-up to Thanksgiving will see “heavy rain and strong thunderstorms” that extend from the Lower Mississippi Valley to the mid-Atlantic as the storm moves east.
The center is predicting a “wintry mix” across New England, and heavy snow is possible at higher elevations in New Hampshire and Maine.
Moderate snow is also expected to reach the northern Rocky Mountains by Thanksgiving, before snow moves to the central Rockies and central High Plains on Friday.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said Monday that the government has tried to better prepare for increased holiday travel by hiring more air traffic controllers and opening new air routes along the East Coast. Travel last year saw a return to pre-pandemic levels but also left thousands of travelers disgruntled and stranded during the holidays due to weather and staffing issues.
All officials warn travelers to check weather and road conditions and flight statuses before traveling.
According to Megan Jones, a senior actuary at Arity — a company that analyzes mobility data — traffic jams can result in crashes caused by distracted drivers. People tend to pick up their phones when traffic is at a stop-and-go, she told the AP.
Jones said speeding increases around Thanksgiving; the day with the greatest rate of high-speed driving of more than 80 mph is the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
She added that drivers should be thoughtful about their own behavior and the cars around them on their drives home from the holiday.
The Associated Press contributed.
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