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Severe thunderstorms to delay Memorial Day travel as nearly 43 million Americans take vacation

By Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather staff writer
May 24, 2019, 2:10:01 PM EDT

Nearly 43 million Americans will take to the nation’s roads, rails and runways to take advantage of the long three-day Memorial Day weekend, reports AAA.

Holiday Travel

Traffic crawls along the westbound lanes of Interstate 287 as motorists get a jump on Memorial Day weekend, Friday, May 26, 2017, in Nyack, N.Y. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)


This holiday is set to have the second-highest travel volume on record since AAA began tracking holiday travel volumes in 2000. Reports show 1.5 million more people will travel this year compared to last year, which is a 3.6% increase.

Despite a rising national gas price average approaching $3 per gallon, AAA said the higher prices wont keep holiday travelers home. Gas prices this year are on par with 2018 costs heading into the long holiday weekend. Approximately 88% of travelers will choose to drive to their Memorial Day destinations this year, the most on record.

“Travelers should anticipate delays to continue through Memorial Day. Our advice to drivers is to avoid the morning and evening commuting times or plan alternate routes.” Trevor Reed, transportation analyst, INRIX said.

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People should expect those travel delays on major roads to be more than three times longer than normal during evening commutes and even longer if there is severe weather.

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On Friday and Friday night, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Dombek said the focus of strong to severe thunderstorms will shift into the Midwest, perhaps including Des Moines, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Chicago.

Holiday travel May 23


For the 37.6 million Americans traveling by automobile, analytics company INRIX, in collaboration with AAA, predicts drivers will experience a high amount of congestion on Friday, May 24 in the late afternoon as commuters leave work early and mix with holiday travelers. Several major U.S. metros could experience double the travel times compared to a normal trip, while New Yorkers and Washington, D.C., could see three times the delay.

"On Saturday, watch the region from central and western New York state and northwestern Pennsylvania, back into Indiana for strong to severe thunderstorms," Dombek said.

Dombek said there are no widespread areas of severe thunderstorms across the Northeast or Midwest on Sunday. Instead the severe threat will focus across the Plains.

"The central Plains to the Ohio Valley is the area to watch for strong thunderstorms on Monday," Dombek said.

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"In general, the western one fourth to one third of the nation will be unsettled the entire time from Friday through Monday with pockets of rain or showers, and some snow in some of the highest elevations," Dombek said.

Keep checking back for updates in the Memorial Day weather outlook on AccuWeather.com.

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