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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Fewer people will travel over weekend, study finds

Weatherwise, region taking on fall-like feeling

The number of people hitting the road during the Labor Day weekend is expected to drop by 13.3 percent from 2008.

In the Inland Northwest, those who do venture out can expect cooler weather and a chance of rain.

A study commissioned by the AAA auto club finds that an estimated 39.1 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home over the weekend, and they will spend an estimated $968 per household through the period.

Most of those people – 32.9 million travelers – will go by automobile.

The decline in expected travel is attributed to the late date of Labor Day – Sept. 7 – and the fact that many schools have already resumed classes, AAA said.

In addition, 2008 was judged to be a particularly busy Labor Day travel period.

Despite the drop, the number of people on the roads and in the skies should exceed the number who traveled over the July 4 holiday this year, AAA reported.

In the Inland Northwest, motorists can expect good driving conditions with the exception of a chance of showers over the region Saturday and Sunday.

A low pressure area in the Gulf of Alaska will swing cooler air into the region over the next several days, bringing the chance of showers, especially Saturday. Clouds will dominate the skies after Friday.

“It’s going to feel a little bit like fall Saturday,” said Matt Fugazzi, forecaster for the National Weather Service in Spokane.

Western Washington and Oregon could get a dousing of steady rain on Saturday with showers lingering through Sunday and Monday.

Campers might want to pack extra clothing and rain gear. The chance of showers will be higher near the mountains. Snow could fall Sunday night on the highest peaks, a sure sign that autumn is coming.

Temperatures are expected to drop from around 80 on Friday to the middle and upper 70 on Saturday, and continue to fall to the upper 60s by Monday.

Lows at night should drop to the 40s in lower elevations by Sunday night.

A “red flag warning” for increased fire danger was issued for today from 2 a.m. to 9 a.m.

A frontal band this morning was expected to bring a risk of thunderstorms and gusty winds to the upper Columbia Basin and Okanogan region.

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