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Winter storm expected to bring snow to Idaho, could hamper Thanksgiving travel

Meteorologist Rick Lantz says a big storm is expected to dump snow on Idaho Tuesday evening and into Wednesday morning.

BOISE, Idaho — Fall is about to make a big transition to winter.

Idaho’s Chief Meteorologist Rick Lantz is tracking a massive storm that will be moving across the Pacific Northwest and is expected to reach the Gem State early next week.

He posted on this Facebook page that a large storm, dropping several inches of snow, will likely hit Tuesday night and into Wednesday. The mountains could see a foot or more in the higher country.

LATEST FORECAST: Snow showers on the way for next week but sunny skies and mild conditions through the end of this week

All that snow could hamper holiday travelers.

AAA says more than 296,000 Idahoans are expected to take a trip this Thanksgiving, up three percent from a year ago. More than 263,000 Idahoans will be driving to their destination.

Gas prices in Idaho recently hit the $3 per gallon mark as a result of strong fuel demand, depleted inventories, and reduced refinery production in the Rockies region.  Prices are expected to drop during the winter months.

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The 2019 Thanksgiving holiday period is defined as Wednesday, Nov. 26 to Sunday, Dec. 1. 

AAA says the busiest times on the road will be Tuesday afternoon, Wednesday morning and Wednesday afternoon, as travelers mix with commuters who are heading to and from work.  In large metro areas, drive times could be two or three times longer than normal due to traffic congestion.

The busiest day at most airports across the country will be Wednesday.  Regional airports, including Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, will be hectic for any Idahoans who might be making a connecting flight.  The least busy day will be Thanksgiving itself. 

“If you decide to travel at the last minute, you might be able to snatch up an inexpensive ticket and still arrive in time for Thanksgiving dinner,” AAA spokesman Matthew Conde said.  “But if you’re traveling during peak times, expect full planes, busy security lines, and crowded gates.  In recent years, overall seat capacity has not increased as quickly as the demand for flying.”

Overall, about 55.3 million travelers are expected to roam far from their home to celebrate Thanksgiving this year. That’s the most since 2005, and nearly 1.5 million more than last year.

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If you are heading out, AAA advises motorists to be prepared.  Flat tires, dead batteries and lockouts are the most common issues that people face.

Drivers should pack extra clothing, food, water, a first aid kit, flashlight with extra batteries, jumper cables, flares or reflectors, and some basic tools.

“To avoid miserable driving conditions, try to leave before the roads are saturated, or wait until the traffic has died down,” said Conde.