Snow could impact holiday travel
BY TINA SFONDELES Staff Reporter November 26, 2013 3:18PM
The brunt of holiday snow that could impact travel will hit northwest Indiana, especially LaPorte and Berrien counties, Tuesday night into Wednesday, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Stephen Rodriguez. | Sun-Times library
Updated: December 28, 2013 6:25AM
Chicagoans heading to Indiana, or flying to the East Coast, might have some trouble getting to that Thanksgiving dinner table on time.
Although snow flurries are expected to hit the Chicago area Tuesday night, the brunt of holiday snow that could impact travel will hit northwest Indiana, especially LaPorte and Berrien counties, Tuesday night into Wednesday, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Stephen Rodriguez.
“Wind off the lake will produce lake effect snow showers and this could bring several inches of snow across the areas in northwest Indiana and southwest Michigan,” Rodriguez said. “That could hamper and cause some effects in the area when it comes to holiday traveling.”
On the East Coast, a storm is expected to mostly impact travel through Wednesday night, according to the weather service. Everything from heavy rain, localized flooding, wind, thunderstorms, icy conditions and heavy snow could strand air travelers and drivers, significantly impacting holiday travel. The East Coast is expected to get snow accumulations of more than six inches.
In Chicago, more than 1.9 million passengers are expected to fly through O’Hare International Airport and Midway Airport over an eight-day Thanksgiving travel period beginning Tuesday and ending on Dec. 3, according to the city’s Department of Aviation.
O’Hare and Midway’s busiest day should be Sunday — with about 212,000 passengers expected at O’Hare and 80,000 at Midway, the department said.
With millions of drivers expected to hit Illinois expressways, the Illinois Department of Transportation is suspending non-emergency roadwork, where possible, as is customary every Thanksgiving travel period. That will start at 3 p.m. Wednesday and last through midnight Sunday.
The Illinois Tollway expects about 10 million vehicles to travel through the toll system from Wednesday through Monday. The most popular day is expected on Wednesday, when 1.7 million vehicles are projected to be on the road, according to the Tollway. Construction lanes also will be suspended on tollways over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Although Thanksgiving continues to be a priority holiday for Americans, travel has slightly decreased over the past few years: “Thanksgiving tends to be the holiday when we go to see grandma…We would say it’s still a priority but since the economy has not turned around as quickly as we thought, there’s a decrease [nationally] year to year,” AAA spokeswoman Beth Mosher said.
Nationally, 43.4 million are traveling by air this Thanksgiving holiday, a decrease of 1.5 percent from 2012. And in Illinois, 2.3 million are traveling, a 1.3 percent decrease from 2012, according to AAA.
People are also traveling less by car this holiday season. In Illinois, auto travel is down 1.3 percent from 2012.
And the price of gas isn’t really playing a big role in that decrease, Mosher said.
“When we did the survey, gas prices were very, very reasonable and what we found is that people tended to prioritize regardless of what the gas prices are. The reason for the decrease is that we’re just at a sluggish place in terms of the recovery of the economy,” Mosher said. “People are still a little bit uncertain, and still want to hold onto that disposable income.”