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NC escapes worst of Thanksgiving travel woes

Posted November 26, 2014

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— Central North Carolina managed to escape most of the messy weather that paralyzed the Northeast on Wednesday just as millions began their big Thanksgiving getaway.

By early afternoon, more than 600 flights had been canceled, the bulk of them in the Northeast, during what is typically one of the busiest travel periods of the year. Thousands of flight delays were also expected as the snow from the nor'easter piled up.

Some travelers tried to change their plans and catch earlier flights to beat the storm, and major airlines waived their re-booking fees. But most planes were already filled.

By contrast, travelers at Raleigh-Durham International Airport experienced few hassles and were breezing through the security checkpoint in about 10 minutes. Flight delays were ranging from an hour to 90 minutes.

Airport spokesman Andrew Sawyer said there were few cancellations, and most were because of weather-related problems at major hubs in the Northeast.

Sawyer said an estimated 34,000 were to fly in and out Wednesday. Thanksgiving Day will be the slowest with about 16,000 people, and Sunday, when travelers return from their Thanksgiving destination, is projected to be the busiest with 35,500 passengers.

Sawyer encouraged Sunday travelers to check on their flights before departure.

WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said conditions at airports in major Northeast cities were contradictory to actual temperatures, which were above freezing in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and New York on Wednesday.

“From what we’ve heard about the airports, you would have been better off driving to those locations,” he said.

Numerous traffic accidents were reported across the Northeast, where by mid-afternoon the line between rain and snow ran roughly along Interstate 95, the chief route between Washington and Boston.
Schools and businesses also closed in some areas, and state government offices let workers go home early.

Pat Green and her husband drove from Saugerties, New York, to the Albany airport for the first leg of their trip to San Francisco. She said the drive on the New York State Thruway was "a little hairy," but they made it, and their flight was on schedule so far.

"It was snowing so hard you couldn't see the car ahead of you," she said. "We slowed down so we were fine. We also give ourselves a lot of extra time."

Authorities in the Triangle reported only a handful of crashes, mostly during the morning and evening rush hours.

Snow did not fall in the Triangle, however, a steady rain soaked the region for several hours in the morning before clearing.

Fishel said a few showers may pop up late Wednesday, but no significant rainfall is expected in the next five to seven days.

“It doesn’t look like we’ve got too much to worry about at all,” Fishel said. “The widespread heavy rain has moved out.”

But the system left behind some impressive rain totals, ranging from 1.5 to 2.3 inches across the region. The rain was so heavy that it overwhelmed sewer systems in Raleigh and Louisburg, which reported wastewater spills.

Skies will remain gray through most of Thanskgiving, which will see a high of 48 degrees and an overnight low of 37 degrees. The sun should return on Black Friday, which will be clear and cool across the Triangle.

“There will be little bit of fluctuations in our temperatures for the next couple of days,” Fishel said.
 

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