NC holiday travelers face rain at home, snow elsewhere

bsiceloff@newsobserver.comNovember 26, 2013 

Messy weather is clogging highways and likely to delay flights for many of the 1.3 million North Carolinians with travel plans for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Plan to leave early, and don’t hurry. Turn on your headlights when it’s raining. Before you head for the airport, check the flight status with your airline or online at

The rain that began rolling across North Carolina on Tuesday will begin to taper off Wednesday morning, though showers remain possible all day, according to the National Weather Service. Winds will be stiff, at 15 to 20 mph with gusts as high as 35 mph during the day and 30 mph overnight.

There is a chance of “a spotty pocket of snowflakes” before the precipitation ends, but no chance of accumulation, WTVD meteorologist Don Schwenneker said.

It will be sunnier but colder for the rest of week, with temperatures in the 40s by day and mid-20s at night.

On the road

Wednesday and Sunday are expected to be the busiest days on the highway. Watch for standing water on rainy roads, and for snow and ice farther west. A few inches of snow were forecast for North Carolina mountain highways Tuesday night and Wednesday.

Westbound Interstate 40 at Chapel Hill is a perennial holiday travel chokepoint – with backups sometimes stretching for miles from U.S. 15-501, where the roadway narrows from three lanes to two. The state Department of Transportation recommends a quicker detour from Research Triangle Park to Hillsborough via N.C. 147 (the Durham Freeway) and I-85.

DOT has suspended most construction until Monday, but a few major highways will be squeezed with lanes closed for roadwork.

They include U.S. 1 north of Aberdeen in Moore County; U.S. 158 in Elizabeth City, and Interstate 73 in Greensboro between I-85 and I-40. U.S. 13 is closed north of Windsor in Bertie County for a bridge replacement project, with a detour marked for all traffic.

As usual on busy holidays, the Highway Patrol says troopers will be targeting speeders and aggressive and impaired drivers on interstates and major highways.

Call the Highway Patrol at *HP (star-47) to report a highway problem. For updates on traffic and road conditions, call 511 or check on your smartphone.

Gas prices have risen about 10 cents a gallon in the past week, but we’re still paying about what we did at the pump this time a year ago.

In the air

Raleigh-Durham International Airport expects to serve 200,000 airline passengers over an eight-day holiday period ending Monday. RDU suggests that travelers plan to arrive two hours before departure.

Only a few flight delays were posted Tuesday afternoon, but airlines warned of problems later this week when icy weather is expected at some airports in the northeastern United States.

Siceloff: 919-829-4527 or Twitter: @Road_Worrier

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