Local drivers to hit the road for the holidays

tjefferson@vagazette.com

The push to get to grandma’s house for Christmas will see a mid-week rush this year, according to travel experts.

AAA forecasters believe Wednesday and Thursday will be busy travels days, as people take off from work a few days early before Christmas.

“More expensive gas prices are not swaying holiday revelers to stay home,” said Georjeane Blumling, vice president of public affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia, in a news release. “In fact, across the board this year, travel has increased year-over-year for every major holiday weekend — Memorial Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving — and we project the same for the year-end holiday period.”

Locally, travelers will not feel the affects from the power outage at the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.

All flights from Richmond to Atlanta went as scheduled Tuesday, according to Flightaware.com, a site that tracks flights.

The organization credits a strong economy and labor market for increasing incomes and higher consumer confidence, meaning a stronger year for the travel industry.

The roads should be busy. AAA expects 3 million travelers in Virginia and 107.3 million in the country, a 2 percent increase from last year.

Gas prices in the Williamsburg area are hovering around $2.17, according to Gasbuddy.com, a crowdsourcing website for gas prices. That’s 7 cents more than the statewide average.

Nationally, prices average $2.47, which is 28 cents more than last year, according to AAA.

To ease congestion, VDOT will suspend most highway work zones and lift lane closures from noon on Dec. 22 until noon on Dec. 26. Lane closures will also be lifted from noon on Dec. 29 to noon on Jan. 2, according to a VDOT news release.

Balmy weather

Travelers should expect relatively warm conditions as they hit the road from now until Christmas.

“Right now, we’re looking toward the weekend being warm,” said Mike Dutter, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Wakefield office.

Travelers will have to go far to experience a “white” Christmas.

West Virginia, Alaska, Vermont, Minnesota and Michigan have the best chance of snowfall on Christmas, according to accuweather.com.

In Williamsburg, conditions will hover around 60 degrees during the weekend and on Christmas Day, Dutter said.

Dutter said he anticipates a cold front coming in after the Christmas holiday and said rain is a possibility over the weekend.

Jefferson can be reached by phone at 757-790-9313.

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