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Winter storm complicates Thanksgiving travel

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An approaching winter storm is projected to bring Virginia  snow to the west and two to four inches of rain in Richmond and surrounding areas today and tomorrow,  likely creating havoc for holiday travelers.

AAA Logo“The timing of this storm is far from ideal as most people will be traveling to their Thanksgiving feasts on Wednesday, meaning that the storm will hit just as they are departing,” said Martha Mitchell Meade, Manager of Public and Government for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “Travelers will now be facing extremely busy highways coupled with the nasty weather system, a combination that could be frustrating and/or deadly for the ill prepared. AAA urges travelers to be patient and pro-active and prepared, as they head out this year,” said Meade.

The storm, Boreas, made its grand entrance in California and pushed its deadly path as far as Texas creating treacherous traffic conditions and claiming at least 14 lives along the storms route.  The wintery storm dumped close to a foot of snow in Oklahoma, caused mass flooding in New Mexico and Texas and produced chaotic road conditions with hundreds of vehicle rollover accidents on roadways in its path.

 

Motorist Tips

Slow down – Drivers are more likely to lose control of the vehicle when roads are wet.

Increase following distance – This will allow time for a controlled stop.

Break early – Breaking early, but not hard, will allow the time needed to slow the car.

Never drive through standing water – Standing water can be deceiving and motorists should avoid it. No matter how shallow it may appear water may be hiding downed power lines, may be deeper than it appears, or may have significant force from flooding, etc.

Drive with overall greater caution and remain alert – keep your eyes and your mind on the road.

 

Airline Travel Tips

According to David Magana, Senior Manager of Public Affairs for DFW International Airport, Boreas cancelled 485 flight departures at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport on Sunday November 24, 2013 and Monday November 25.  Airports in the Northeast corridor have now been put on standby in anticipation of what the weather channel is calling, “a lethal combination.”

“Before leaving home to take flight to holiday celebrations, make sure to check the most up to date flight information either by calling the airline or going online to the airport or airline’s website,” advised Meade.

Allow EXTRA time for everything – Everything can take longer when bad weather hits. Parking lots are full of cars from those who were expected home but are stranded elsewhere in addition to all those who are waiting for possibly delayed flights. TSA lines will be full of passengers anxious to get through to their gate and is likely to include some more inexperienced travelers who may take a bit more time to navigate the system. Even boarding the plan will be busy as few flights will fly with empty seats.

Check-in and secure your boarding pass as soon as you arrive at the airport. When flights are overflowing arriving early can make a difference.

Avoid checking a bag if possible – Having everything you need in the event of a delay or re-routing makes the journey much more carefree. Those who have only carry-on bags can also change flights more smoothly at a connection point if needed and will not have to try to re-unite with their bag once reaching their final destination.

Carry enough medication for two to three times the length of your trip- in carry-on luggage.

If checking a bag, be sure to add your favorite “creature comforts” and essential toiletries in your carry-on bagas checked baggage may not be available if you are delayed – Travel pillow, toothpaste and brush, socks and extra undergarments, playing cards can all be lifesavers in the event you and your family are stranded for any reason.

Include your favorite snacks in your carry-on and purchase bottled water near the gate to carry on as well.(Only liquids purchased after passing through TSA’s security check point may be carried on board the plane with some exceptions for baby formula and medical solutions etc.) De-icing and runway back-ups can leave unprepared travelers, hungry and thirsty.

Pack your own personal “entertainment” selection – If stranded on the runway you can immerse yourself in a great book, catch up on work, write a note to a friend, etc. Families traveling with kids will need to remember things such as card games, travel checkers, magazines, etc., which can keep kids entertained for hours.

Dress comfortably and in layers – Temperatures can vary greatly from airport to plane thus layers will ensure that you can easily adjust to temperature changes.

Attitude is everything – Try to think of a delay and needed “down-time: to relax, read, call friends you haven’t talked to in while, work etc.

Enjoy People Watching – Travelers come in all forms and from all over the world, watching how they handle themselves when faced with good or more challenging situations can be truly fascinating and will likely give you interesting stories to share. AAA recommends embracing the airport experience as an adventure with determination to have a good attitude during it and come out with a smile on the other end.

 

Rail Travel

Rail travel may also be a good solution for those that need to travel but do not want to risk driving or perhaps is anticipating flight delays or cancellations.  Amtrak states that one of the biggest advantages of traveling by rail is that trains can operate in conditions where other modes cannot.  The caveat to booking a train ticket now is that many other travelers have already booked their train tickets for holiday travel in advance which could mean fewer tickets, if any, are available.

Contributors

Contributors

Have a guest column, letter to the editor, story idea or a news tip? Email editor Chris Graham at [email protected]. Subscribe to AFP podcasts on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPandora and YouTube.

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