Even though gas prices this holiday might be enough to make you choke on your turkey, 54.6 million Americans, including about 312,000 Idahoans, plan to hit the road or head for an airport for the Thanksgiving weekend.
That’s an increase of 1.5% from last year, according to the American Automobile Association.
“This year’s travel volume is back to just below pre-pandemic levels, despite the challenge of higher prices for fuel and the other necessities to make it possible,” said AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde. “Clearly, people see family gatherings as an investment in their quality of life.”
Prices at the pump around the region ranged from $4.29 per gallon of regular gas in the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley to $4.42 per gallon in Moscow; $4.59 per gallon in Grangeville and $3.89 at the Exxon station in Deary.
Elsewhere, regular gas costs $4.59 in McCall; $4.25 in Boise; $5.69 in Seattle and $3.79 in Missoula.
Thanksgiving airline travel is also expected to increase by 8% to 4.5 million Americans, or nearly 99% of the pre-pandemic volume, according to AAA.
The good news is, most of the road construction throughout north central Idaho, including U.S. Highway 95 on the Winchester Grade and Idaho Highway 55 at Smith’s Ferry, has been suspended for the winter and roads appear to be in good shape for holiday travelers, the Idaho Transportation Department reported.
The department issued a list of winter driving tips, including checking road conditions before starting off on a journey, being prepared with a winter emergency kit in the car, slowing down when roads are wet or icy, giving snowplows a wide berth and never passing on the right, and wearing a seatbelt.
A full list of road conditions and driving tips is available online at 511.idaho.gov.
The weather also is expected to be cooperative for holiday travelers, said Greg Koch, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Spokane.
“Thanksgiving looks like good travel weather throughout the Pacific Northwest,” Koch said Tuesday.
“There’s a high pressure system over the region. It may not be bright and sunny but it should be good road conditions,” he added.
A bit of light, wintry conditions are expected in the region, especially on the Camas Prairie early in the morning but “things should be winding down by the time most folks will be hitting the road,” Koch said.
For central and southern Idaho, as well as the Panhandle region, Friday will be mostly dry with a chance of some precipitation Friday evening.
“At this point it looks like snow levels will be around 4,000 feet Friday evening and Friday night,” Koch said. “For Lewiston, Moscow and Kamiah and the low elevation areas it should be rain but it may be rain and snow mix on the Camas Prairie. At this point it doesn’t look like that will be a heavy precipitation event.”
Fair conditions will continue through Saturday, Koch said, but Sunday has the potential for more significant weather with a colder system moving in and the chance of snow as low as 2,000 feet elevation.
“It’s a little early to be giving snow amounts,” he said. “But it’s something for travelers to be aware of. Sunday may be the most challenging day for the holiday.”
High temperatures are expected to be mainly in the 40s for the Lewiston-Clarkston area, cooling into the mid- to upper-30s Saturday and Sunday. The average temperature for the area this time of year is 47 degrees, he said.
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