Foul weather threatens to snarl US holiday travel

By Jim Salter

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Dec. 20 2013 2:45 p.m. MST

In Vinita, Okla., on Friday, customers lined for gas at Diamond Rio convenience store in preparation for the snow and ice the region was expected to get.

Oklahoma gets more than its share of nasty weather, and Vinita resident James Allen took the forecast in stride.

"Right now I don't think it's gonna be that bad," he said. "Might be a little bit of ice and snow but I think it'll melt off in a couple of days."

Farther north, more traditional winter weather was the biggest worry. Kansas City, Mo., was bracing for freezing rain, then 6 inches of snow.

In Wisconsin, Dennis Richmond, 72, was planning to drive about 140 miles from La Crosse to Madison on Saturday to pick up his son, who's flying in for the holidays from Washington, D.C.. The Madison area was expected to get as much as 8 inches of snow, and Richmond worried that his son's flight might get delayed or canceled.

Richmond wasn't advising his son to change his itinerary because other options were limited.

"The thing is, trying to book another flight at this time of year is next to impossible," he said. "I just want to alert him to the fact he might be delayed."

In New England, Nikki Becker of the National Weather Service said much of Maine and parts of New Hampshire could get up to a half-inch of ice Saturday night through Sunday morning.

The timing couldn't be worse. AAA is projecting record travel for this holiday period, and spokeswoman Heather Hunter said more than 90 percent of travelers will get there by car. She encouraged drivers to check the weather, not only at their destination but at points along the route, before heading out. Motorists should also make sure their vehicles are road trip-ready, especially the tread and air pressure on the tires. They should also make sure there is plenty of windshield washer fluid that won't freeze.

The good news is that Christmas is mid-week.

"When a holiday falls on a Wednesday it gives travelers more flexibility of either leaving the weekend before, or traveling right before the holiday and extending the trip through the following weekend," Hunter said.

AP Business Writer Joshua Freed in Minneapolis and AP writers Kelly P. Kissel in Little Rock, Ark., Ken Miller in Oklahoma City and Denesh Ramde in Milwaukee contributed to this report.

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