Wake County

Busy, blustery travel likely on Christmas Eve

David Welborn, 7, sits in the lost luggage line at the Delta Airlines desk at RDU International Airport Tuesday, December 23, 2014. With his trusty dog "Wolfbaby" perched on his head, he was with his mother and about 15 other people trying to find their bags after a cross country flight from Washington State. They were headed to Kinston, NC to enjoy the holidays with family and friends.
David Welborn, 7, sits in the lost luggage line at the Delta Airlines desk at RDU International Airport Tuesday, December 23, 2014. With his trusty dog "Wolfbaby" perched on his head, he was with his mother and about 15 other people trying to find their bags after a cross country flight from Washington State. They were headed to Kinston, NC to enjoy the holidays with family and friends. cliddy@newsobserver.com

Wednesday will be a wet and blustery day for holiday travelers, and the roads and airports will be busy.

The AAA Carolinas motor club says nearly 3 million North Carolinians will be traveling over the Christmas-New Year’s holiday week. They’ll find gasoline selling for about 82 cents per gallon less than this time last year – an average $2.432 for self-service regular Tuesday in the Triangle.

The forecast calls for rain, wind and possible thunderstorms Wednesday.

“From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. it’s going to be a wet go for you if you’re driving anywhere Wednesday,” ABC11 meteorologist Don Schwenneker said Tuesday. Sunshine is expected for much of Thursday, Christmas Day.

Air travelers who like Raleigh-Durham International Airport’s main park-and-ride lot should prepare to put their cars somewhere else. Park & Ride 3 on National Guard Drive filled up and closed Tuesday, but there’s plenty of parking space elsewhere at RDU.

RDU said Park & Ride 3 probably will stay closed until after Christmas Day, reopening Friday or Saturday.

Travelers are being directed to Park & Ride 4 on International Drive and to the daily section of the main parking garage – which had about 5,000 empty parking spaces Tuesday.

“We’re not going to max out on parking,” RDU spokesman Andrew Sawyer said. “We have Park & Ride 4, and if that was to fill we have two other auxiliary lots we can open if we need to.”

Holiday travel is up this year at RDU. The airport expects to handle 26,000 travelers daily on its busiest days: Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Park & Ride 3 closed for two days during the Thanksgiving weekend, and the garage daily section also closed for several hours.

“The number one tip we can give passengers is to arrive early, to give themselves two hours to park, to check in with their airline and to go through the security checkpoint,” RDU spokeswoman Mindy Hamlin said. “A lot of the airlines want passengers at their gate 30 minutes before the flight boards.”

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