Traveling Wednesday for the Thanksgiving holiday? Better pack some patience. A storm system along the East Coast could wreak havoc on what is traditionally the busiest travel day of the year.
WEATHER: Rain is expected across South Carolina on Wednesday morning, stopping later in the day. But travelers heading to parts of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and New England could see snow and rain-snow mixes starting early to midday Wednesday.
AT THE AIRPORT: Flight delays are likely with wintry weather to the north, said Columbia Metropolitan Airport spokeswoman Kaela Harmon, advising travelers to be flexible. Delays could be lengthy at major airports in Washington D.C., New York and Boston. Some airlines are waiving ticket change fees for those heading to airports in the Mid-Atlantic or Northeast affected by wintry weather.
ON THE ROAD: With 591,000 South Carolinians expected to drive 50 miles or more – 24,000 more than a year ago – it might be a good idea to avoid peak travel times. If you can’t avoid leaving Wednesday, try to drive before 2 p.m. or after 7 p.m. to miss the heaviest traffic, AAA Carolinas spokeswoman Tiffany Wright said. About half of people who drive will return home Sunday.
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AT THE PUMP: Drivers will pay roughly 50 cents a gallon less than they did last year. That’s about a $10 savings on every fill-up, depending on the type of car, Wright said. The average price in South Carolina averaged $2.57 per gallon Tuesday.
THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT: You might not be able to change the weather, but here are some apps that could make travel a bit easier.
• FlightAware tracks not only your flight’s status but also any delays or cancellations, even gate changes. Set it up for a specific trip and it will send alerts so you don’t have to keep checking for changes.
• If you have the pleasure of a connecting flight, consider FlightBoard. Every five minutes, it updates with the latest from airport departure boards at more than 3,000 airports worldwide.
• If you want to keep it simple, get the app of the airline you’re flying. That will typically let you do things such as get a boarding pass or – gulp – rebook your flight.
• Traffic apps are a familiar friend for many drivers. Some, such as Sigalert, offer color-coded highway maps – red for “jammed up,” yellow for “slow,” green for “full speed ahead.” Sometimes the data that inform the maps are just outdated enough that they can lead a driver onto a freeway that may have been traffic-free five minutes ago, but now has a building bottleneck. Waze tries to solve that problem by asking drivers to report traffic and other problems, which the app then shares with other users.
• In South Carolina, features on the free 511 Traveler Information System include an interactive map showing traffic incidents and construction projects, average traffic speeds and more. Go to the web address,www.511sc.org
, where you also can find free apps with other useful features.
MORE ON THANKSGIVING
AT THESTATE.COM: Still stumped about how to put together that Thanksgiving feast? Find loads of tips and recipes on thestate.com/food-drink, or check out the Eaton Wright Facebook page.
IN LIFE&STYLE: Readers share photos and memories of the holiday dishes and other kitchen items they treasure. Page D1
Contributing: Charlotte Observer, The Associated Press