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Heavy Rain, Snow, Tornadoes: Severe Weather and Record-Breaking Numbers Snarl Thanksgiving Travel

Cars line up to drop off passengers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Nov. 21, 2023, in Florida. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier).
Cars line up to drop off passengers at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Nov. 21, 2023, in Florida. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier).

It is one of the busiest travel times of the year, especially at airports, where the Transportation Security Administration anticipates screening 2.7 million passengers today.

The Federal Aviation Administration predicts nearly 50,000 flights over the U.S. on Wednesday, transporting millions to their Thanksgiving destinations.

"Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving are very busy. The busiest day usually is the Sunday following," said TSA Administrator David Pekoske. "And so, the Sunday following Thanksgiving this year we expect about 3 million passengers going through our screen checkpoints."

"If so, that will be an all-time record," he added.

Darrel LeFevre, a resident of the Denver area, shared his travel secret. "I like to come early. And the reason I like to come early is because it reduces my stress," he said. 

"Today was a busy Thanksgiving holiday season, and I felt there might be a couple million people coming through the airport over the next week. So that's why I'm here early," he continued.

The FAA wants to cut back on cancellations and delays by freeing up air space typically reserved for the military.

On the roads, AAA expects a record-breaking 55 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles to their Thanksgiving destinations. It's already been difficult for some.

"For 45 minutes we've been in traffic," said one driver.
"It was stopped; it was terrible. It was, took forever," shared another.

If you're hitting the roads, experts advise to hold off until the evening before or even Thanksgiving morning with safety your top priority.

"It is what it is. As long as everybody can be safe, take their time, know you're going to get there, and don't do anything crazy," a traveler said.

The weather could make trips more challenging – a cross-country storm bringing heavy rain along the East Coast and an expected several inches of snow in parts of New England.

In the South, five tornadoes were reported – the storm soaking Mississippi and Louisiana with rain, hail and high winds. On I-75 in Tennessee, crashes caused traffic to come to a standstill.

On the positive side, when it comes to gas prices, drivers will get a break.

"Gas prices are lower than this time last year in many states, significantly lower," said Marie Montgomery of AAA.

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