It is a perfect storm for holiday travel: Days before Christmas and the first night of Hanukkah, more than a third of Americans are expected to be on the move. The American Automobile Associate (AAA) says more than 115 million will travel by road, rail or air between now and January 1. That’s about 4 million more than last year — and the most since it began keeping records 20 years ago.
Whether by plane, train, or automobile, holiday travelers are on the move. More than 90% will take to the roads and drive — that’s about 104 million people.
For the most part, it’s been a smooth ride so far, thanks to tranquil weather for much of the country. At the airport in San Francisco, one family headed east had no complaints.
“So far yeah,” said one traveler. “It’s much better than prior years.”
But farther north in Seattle, Washington, it was a different story. Record rainfall in the wettest day of the decade prompted flood warnings and disrupted some train service.
The Christmas jollies may quickly fade when drivers head home, as traffic jams are expected to be the worst the day after Christmas.
Traffic snarls are likely to spike late afternoon in major cities like Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, where delays could lead to travel times three times longer than usual.
For those who choose to fly, Christmas Eve is the best day to fly. The day after Christmas will be the most expensive day to fly, according to AAA flight data.
There is record rain and snow in parts of the northwest with more on the way. So while some of the country will have a white Christmas, for most of the country it will be unseasonably warm and clear.