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HEAR THIS HOUR'S UPDATE

Entries in Holiday Travel (10)

Wednesday
Dec262012

Holiday Travel Woes: Severe Weather Will Cause Delays

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As the Gulf Coast struggles to recover from an outbreak of tornadoes, millions across the nation are waking up Wednesday morning on the busiest travel day of the Christmas season to cope with more severe weather that promises to upset the travel plans of millions.

"Traveling will definitely be affected as people go home for the holidays," Bob Oravec, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service, told ABC News.  "Anywhere from the Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley and the Northeast, there's definitely going to be travel issues as we have heavy snow and some very high winds."

That large storm has been pounding not just the Gulf Coast but most of the South from Oklahoma to Arkansas, and Texas, where Dallas had a rare white Christmas.

In Lubbock, Texas, more than an inch of snow fell, making it difficult for some drivers to stay on the road.  At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, flights have been delayed as crews worked to de-ice planes.

Oklahoma got about seven inches of snow across the state, making for treacherous road conditions.  A 21-car pile-up in Oklahoma City temporarily shut down a major roadway through the state.  No one was seriously injured.

Arkansas also got a rare Christmas Day snow storm, with an estimated 10 inches falling in Fayetteville, limiting roadway visibility.

All of that snowy weather in the South left a white trail everywhere it went, and on Wednesday, it's expected to bring at least six to eight inches to the lower Midwest.  Wednesday's severe weather could cause potential delays at airports in St. Louis, Louisville, Ky., Indianapolis and Cincinnati.

In Northern California, residents were socked with the third storm in three days.  Wet weather spread from the Bay area through the Sierras, delaying inbound flights at San Francisco International Airport and causing a landslide in Oakland that almost crushed one driver to death.

The severe weather system in the South has been moving overnight, and a front with heavy rain and wind is forecast for the Northeastern corridor late Wednesday night and into Thursday morning.

"The [weather in] big cities from Washington up to Philadelphia and New York City will mostly be in the form of rain," Oravec said.  "There may be a brief period of snow from the nation's capitol this morning up into Philadelphia and then to New York City.  But the track of the storm currently suggests that the precipitation will definitely change over to rain."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Dec242012

Snow Storm Threatens Post-Christmas Travel

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A huge storm that dumped heavy snow and rain on the West Coast is expected to move east and could spoil travel plans for people looking to return home the day after Christmas, which is considered one of the busiest travel days.

The storm is forecast to move east over the next few days and drop snow in Oklahoma starting Monday before finishing up in the Northeast sometime Wednesday.

The Midwest will be covered with snow by Wednesday, likely causing delays at major airports in cities including Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis and Chicago just in time for post-Christmas travel, when millions of Americans will be on the move.

Snow could arrive in the Northeast by Thursday, dropping 1-3 inches over parts of New England.

In Syracuse, N.Y., plows are working overtime, dealing with two consecutive days of snow this weekend during the city's first snowstorm of the season.  As the city continues to dig out, all eyes are watching the storm roll in from the west.

Torrential rain and heavy winds have also caused trouble for California's Bay Area over the weekend, which has seen severe flooding, power outages and delays for those planning to fly out for the holidays.

More than 400 flights were canceled on Sunday at San Francisco International Airport.  Travelers had to deal with more than 200 cancellations on Saturday.

So far this month, San Francisco has gotten almost five inches of rain -- almost twice as much as the area gets for the entire month of December.

Severe snow and rain are not the only issues facing Americans looking to get home before the New Year.  Several states in the Gulf of Mexico, all the way from Houston to Raleigh, N.C., are bracing for possible tornadoes starting on Monday and lasting until Wednesday.

The biggest chance for tornadoes will be Tuesday from Houston to New Orleans to Birmingham, Ala., and Atlanta.

AAA predicts 93.3 million people will travel more than 50 miles this holiday season, from Saturday, Dec. 22, through New Year's Day.  That's a 1.6 percent increase from last year.  

Christmas is the third-busiest holiday for travelers, after Memorial Day and Thanksgiving.  AAA is urging drivers to leave earlier or later to dodge bad weather.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec212012

Severe Winter Weather Upends Holiday Travel Plans

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Snow, wind and rain have disrupted holiday travel plans across the Midwest, South and Northeast over the past two days, prompting reports of 200 severe weather incidents and four tornadoes.

Lashing winds and blowing snow stretched from Nebraska to Michigan overnight, shutting down major highways across the region as drivers struggled to stay on the road.  At least 1,000 accidents have been reported, with one north of Des Moines, Iowa, where at least 25 vehicles slammed into each other.  There were so many accidents in Iowa that the National Guard was called in to help motorists, including pre-teen Isaac Wilson.

"The U.S. Army came and put us in this really fancy truck, and we got blankets and snacks and drove all the way here," Wilson of Millard, Iowa, told ABC News.

Two tornadoes reportedly touched down in Arkansas, while one was reported in Alabama and another in Florida.  The most significant damage was from a tornado in Mobile, Ala., with winds of 86 to 110 mph and a path length of 7 miles.

Severe storms have moved off shore on Friday and the Southeast and the Gulf Coast are expected to dry out.

Up to 20 inches of snow fell in Madison, Wis., while up to 14 inches fell in Iowa.  Madison, Dubuque, Iowa, and Des Moines all had daily record snowfall on Thursday.  The University of Wisconsin cancelled some final exams.

In Chicago, the rain finally changed to snow, but the precipitation has almost ended, so less than a half an inch of snow has accumulated at O'Hare Airport.  Still, there were 600 flight cancellations reported on Thursday, as people struggle with pre-Christmas travel.

Snow is coming to an end in Chicago, and most of the Midwest.  A few more inches are still possible for Indianapolis, Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Thirteen states from Iowa to Maine are under winter weather watches, warnings and advisories.

In the Northeast, high-wind warnings have been posted for major cities, from Washington, D.C., to New York and Boston, with some minor damage and power outages possible.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec142012

JFK Security Workers OK Strike as Holiday Travelers Pay More to Fly

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- More than 300 security guards at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport are threatening to go on strike just as an estimated 42 million people will be flying on airplanes for the holidays.

One group of workers on Thursday approved a vote to strike on Dec. 20 if their company, Air Serve, does not agree to their demands.  A second group of workers employed by Global Elite Group will hold a similar vote on Friday.

These employees at the nation's sixth-largest airport are non-union workers hired by outside, private contractors.  The workers want better training, functional radios and proper uniforms for cold and rainy weather.

It's unclear what impact a strike would have on JFK at the height of the holiday travel season as an estimated 42 million passengers will fly nationwide between Monday, Dec. 17 and Jan. 6.

Airline tickets are in high demand right now, which means more expensive ticket prices, according to a report released Thursday by Airlines for America.  Planes are flying at 85 to 90 percent capacity for the 21-day holiday travel period.

The time for holiday airfare bargains is over.  Non-stop ticket prices for Christmas week are nearly double what they were at the beginning of the month, and rising by the day.

"The time to book was weeks ago, but if you haven't booked yet you have to pull the trigger right now," ABC News' travel and lifestyle editor Genevieve Shaw Brown said.  "Prices are going up not every day, but every single hour you wait."

The average domestic air fare is now $414, according to Travelocity, 9 percent more expensive than last year's holiday season.  The most expensive days to fly -- up to $500 or more a ticket -- are Dec. 21 and 22, and on the return, Dec. 30 and 31, and New Years Day.

The cheaper days to fly?  Christmas Day, and the three days after.  Flying on those days can save as much as $330.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov212012

Weather, Airport Strikes Could Affect Travel for Thanksgiving

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As more than 43 million Americans gear up Wednesday morning for the busiest travel day of the year, inclement weather and airport strikes may put a damper on Thanksgiving travels for some.

Those in the Pacific Northwest will have to brace for a soggy drive, as up to 10 inches of rain fell in parts of Oregon, up to 9 inches in Washington, and 6.5 inches in Northern California.  In Oregon, this was in some parts one of the top rainiest storms ever. 

A third storm system is moving through the West on Wednesday, producing more rain, but it will not be as heavy as Monday's rainfall.

Motorists along the East Coast can look forward to a smooth ride, as most of the weather looks calm from New York to Atlanta, with mild temperatures in the 50s in the Northeast and near 70 in Georgia.

Traffic, unsurprisingly, will not be quite as breezy, with family-filled cars expected to clog roads from coast to coast.

Dense fog that rolled into Chicago last night, combined with a light wind, clearing skies and a moist air mass, is now causing traffic delays across the area.

The top five cities bracing for the worst traffic on Wednesday are New York, Washington D.C, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, where holiday road trips are predicted to take 33 percent longer than usual.

And that's not the only headache in Los Angeles.  Airport union workers are preparing to strike Wednesday morning at LAX.  The workers, who are angry over terminated union contracts and eliminated health insurance, admit they could not have picked a worse day or a busier airport.

"It's a national day about being with your family and taking care of your family, and these workers are not able to do that," Andrew Gross Gaitan of the Seiu United Service Workers West said.

For the approximately 39 million travelers who are hitting the road by car on Wednesday, AAA recommends leaving as early as possible, and at the latest by 2 p.m., because by 5 p.m., the roads will be jam packed.  Rush hour is expected to peak two hours earlier than normal.

"With today expected to be the busiest day, and many people also working, we're expecting this evening there will be a lot of congestion," AAA spokeswoman Heather Hunter said.

There is, however a silver lining for motorists, as gas prices are down 5 cents in the last two weeks, with the national average for a gallon of regular fuel topping off at $3.41.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Nov192012

Holiday Travel: What 43 Million Americans Can Expect

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As 43 million Americans prepare to travel for Thanksgiving this week, some will have to brave snow, wind and heavy rain as they trek to their holiday destinations.

Bad weather will cause a rough start for some travelers expected to be on the move this week, 90 percent of whom will be travelling in cars.  Snow is forecast for mountain passes in Washington state by Thanksgiving, and heavy flooding in Northern California is already creating dangerous road conditions in the West.

A closed vortex will drop over the Northeast Pacific and move slowly southward, bringing in the wet and soggy conditions to the region, according to the National Weather Service.  In the areas with the highest terrain, temperatures are forecast to be low enough to support snow, creating rough conditions for motorists.

"Thirty-nine million people will be traveling in cars, so interstates and the roads are going to be very busy," AAA spokesman Michael Green told ABC News.

In the air, very few delays are expected, as the airlines are looking forward to clear weather for the week.

"Mother nature looks to deliver a beautiful weather week for holiday travel.  Let's do this," airline Jet Blue tweeted.

But air travel is actually down 3 percent this Thanksgiving, mainly because airlines have cut the number of flights and prices are high.

The busiest day for travel will be on Wednesday, when 45 percent head out, with 35 percent returning home on Sunday and 25 percent waiting until Monday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov232011

Severe Weather Dampens Thanksgiving Travel Plans

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As millions of travelers take to the roads and skies for the Thanksgiving holiday, two major storms are slated to hit the Northeast and Northwest, potentially causing major delays on the highways and at the airports of the nation's largest transportation hubs.

As for the Northeast, a storm is currently moving through the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic and onto New England, bringing with it "a wintry mix of precipitation, with a mixture of snow and freezing rain possible from upstate New York into upper New England, with total snow accumulation of 4 to 8 inches," according to the National Weather Service.

The rain along the East Coast will lead to minor flooding, gusty winds and heavy snow across northern New England. As much as 6 inches of snow is expected to blanket upstate New York, moving east into parts of Maine. The areas around Burlington, Vt., Concord, N. H., and Portland and Augusta, Maine, will be hit particularly hard.

Approximately 90 percent of the 42.5 million Americans traveling Wednesday will be doing so by car, and if you're one of them, be prepared for wet conditions in the morning. The rain is expected to end by mid to late morning on the East Coast, so the afternoon will be dry with sunshine. Snow and wind will linger through the afternoon in northern New England and coastal Maine.

A total of 12 counties in the Portland, Maine, area are now under advisories, watches or severe weather warnings, ABC News Portland affiliate WMTW reported.

On the West Coast, from Washington to Oregon and into Northern California, major winter storms with flooding are expected, as are damaging winds, heavy mountain snow, bringing the possibility of mudslides and avalanches.

Cities expected to be affected during Wednesday's travel rush include Seattle and Portland, Ore., with San Francisco getting the rain by afternoon.

In Seattle, a powerful cold front brought wind gusts of more than 70 mph, according to ABC News affiliate KOMO. Strong winds knocked out power to thousands across the region, with Puget Sound Energy reporting about 10,000 customers without service.

A fresh storm is expected to hit the Seattle area on Thanksgiving Day, bringing a round of heavy rain, wind and snow.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Nov222011

Heavy Rain, Snow Facing Thanksgiving Day Travelers

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Forty-two million Americans plan to hit the road or take to this skies this week for Thanksgiving, according to AAA.  And for many of those travelers, their holiday meals will be met with a side of bad weather.

Two major storms are brewing in the U.S. and they're expected to cause some headaches for those traveling between now and Thanksgiving day.

One storm is in the Northwest and it's projected to bring up to eight inches of rain and 80 mile per hour winds on the coast, and two feet of snow in the mountains.

The other system is a low centered in the eastern half of the country, moving from Texas towards the Northeast.

As ABC News Weather Editor Sam Champion explains, "Severe storms today [Tuesday] will travel anywhere from Texas all the up toward Arkansas and well into Kentucky.  The low starts to move toward the Northeast and then becomes a soaking rain event for a good part of the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast, with up to two inches of rain coming from Boston and New York."

And while heavy rain pounds New York City and nearby metropolises, travelers in New England will face another nuisance: snow.

"It becomes a big snowmaker for extreme northern New England that is going to mean more than a foot of snow in the mountains there, that's northern New York State from Vermont and New Hampshire on into Maine," Champion says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov162011

Traveling This Holiday Season? TSA Offers Tips for an Easier, Safer Trip

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- With the holiday season about to kick into full gear, millions of people will soon be flocking to airports, which can lead to a rather hectic experience for travelers.

John Pistole, the administrator of the Travel Security Administration (TSA) is offering passengers tips that will hopefully make their travels a lot easier and safer for the holidays.

“Obviously we’re expecting a large number of people traveling over the holiday season, [with] Thanksgiving coming up, we’re expecting perhaps as many as 3 percent more people traveling than last year,” he said.

People traveling this year can anticipate a few changes while going through security lines, especially while traveling with children.

“Children 12 and under will be allowed to keep their shoes on generally, we’ll still do random and unpredictable [checks] in case there’s something suspicious, but that addresses a lot of the hassle factor if you will, the inconvenience especially with small children if they have tie shoes and things like that,” Pistole said.

The other change is the “privacy filters,” which are simply the generic outline of a person going through the imaging machine.  Currently, the TSA has the privacy software upgrades on the Millimeterwave technology, which is used in more than half of the estimated 500 Advanced Imaging Technology (AIT) machines in place at airports.  TSA officials say they will begin testing the privacy software on AIT Backscatter systems later this year.

Privacy however, still remains a concern for many passengers dealing with security at airports.  TSA is working on better technology so passengers can keep their shoes and jackets on, and that showing “too much” in these body imaging machines will one day no longer be an issue.

Already, the TSA Pre-Check “Trusted Traveler” Program is currently being implemented in four airports.  Passengers who have voluntarily given out their information in Detroit, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Miami, and Atlanta airports no longer have to take off their shoes, jackets and belts.

“The more we know about people who are traveling, the better judgments and decisions we can make,” Pistole said.

And if you're traveling with gifts, leave the expensive gift wrap at home.

“There’s not too many ways of resolving [it] other than opening up the package, so for example last weekend, we found two Christmas packages, wrapped packages, one had probably 50 pounds of marijuana in it,” Pistole said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov032011

Airlines Will Be Stuffed for Thanksgiving

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Don’t count on an empty seat next to you if you are flying over the Thanksgiving holiday.

The Air Transport Association, which represents the majority of domestic airlines, says it expects 23.2 million passengers to fly over the holiday. While that is a 2 percent decline over last year, planes will still be packed.

“While demand is down from last year and remains well below the 2006 peak, passengers still should expect full flights during the Thanksgiving holiday travel season as airlines have begun to reduce capacity and limit the number of seats available for sale due in part to rising cost pressures,” said ATA vice president and chief economist John Heimlich in a press release.

“Based on published airline schedules, these cuts are expected to continue through the winter,” he added.

The crunch comes as airlines have reduced capacity in the face of higher operating costs. In particular, Heimlich says that fuel costs for airlines are up more than 38 percent over the past year. For fliers, this all means there are fewer seats available.

If you are flying for Thanksgiving, the ATA says the busiest days will be Friday, Nov. 18, Sunday, Nov. 27, and Monday, Nov. 28.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio