N.C. travelers expected to have smooth trip
Posted December 24, 2009 6:07 a.m. EST
Updated December 24, 2009 10:21 a.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — While snow snarls travel in the Midwest, holiday travelers in the Triangle should have a relatively easy trip. However, rain is expected to move in overnight and last through Christmas Day.
AAA predicts more than 3 million people will travel this week in the Carolinas, most of them by car.
Anyone traveling near the North Carolina-Tennessee border should allow extra travel time due to the closure of Interstate 40 west near Asheville.
Crews were expected to begin the final phase of clearing a rock slide from I-40 24 miles west of Asheville Monday. The highway is closed in both directions between Exit 20 (U.S. 276), 24 miles west of Asheville in North Carolina, and Exit 421 (I-81 Interchange) east of Knoxville, Tenn.
Drivers can reach western North Carolina via I-40 from the east and I-26 to the north and south, according to the North Carolina Department of Transportation. Exits 20 and 27 on I-40 provide access to popular destinations west of Asheville. The detour takes up to an hour.
For the holiday season, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol is increasing the number of troopers on the interstates and heavily traveled corridors and cracking down on motorists who are driving recklessly or traveling at excessive speeds.
The 2009 holiday period began Wednesday and ends at midnight on Friday, Jan. 1.
During the holiday week, troopers will also be participating in the state's “Booze It and Lose It” anti-drunken driving campaign. Sobriety checkpoints are scheduled throughout the state during the week.
Motorists with cellular phones can report safety hazards to the Highway Patrol by dialing *HP (*47) toll free.
Travelers should check flight status before heading to the airport
A major winter storm is bringing snow to the West and Midwest part of the country. The storm, which is likely to cause a blizzard warning in Kansas, will dump snow throughout the Plains states through Christmas Day.
In addition to icy road conditions, the weather has caused some flight delays and cancellations. The delays are having little impact on travelers heading through Raleigh-Durham International Airport, officials said.
Travelers are urged to check their flight status before going to the airport.
A North Carolina State University professor has exhaustively studied Santa's near-miraculous Christmas Eve trip. He explains science behind it all on WRAL News beginning at 5:30.