As students across western Pennsylvania begin their summer vacation and families welcome warm weather and long weekends, it’s important to plan ahead for any unwanted travel complications.
AAA East Central estimates that more than 4.6 million travelers from the Mid-Atlantic region will head to holiday destinations over Memorial Day weekend, filling roads and airports with hundreds of vacationing families. With gas prices and temperatures still rising throughout the weekend, experts advise these travelers to plan ahead to avoid unnecessary stress over the weekend.
“Based on our predictions, more Americans will be taking to the roads and skies this Memorial Day weekend than in the past several years,” said Bevy Powell, Senior Vice President of AAA East Central. Time with family and friends.”
Car travel higher during the season, but gas prices will remain high for the weekend
Initial travel forecasts show that the most popular mode of transportation will still be cars, with 4.2 million drivers expected to travel this weekend. The number of travelers driving to their destination is expected to increase by about 4.6% this year, despite rising gasoline prices across the country.
“Even with the massive increase in gas prices, we expect a huge jump in holiday driving compared to the past few years,” said Bob Peshaw, transportation analyst at INRIX. Drivers should expect congestion on major roads around major cities and popular destinations. Knowing when and where congestion builds up can help drivers avoid the stress of sitting in traffic.”
In western Pennsylvania, gas prices currently average $4.70 per gallon, which is slightly higher than the current national average of $4.59. Gasoline prices are $1.05 higher than they were when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, sending gasoline prices skyrocketing around the world. With additional seasonal demand, the average price increase was $1.56 over the same time period in 2021.
Here are some of the current costs of gasoline across areas of western Pennsylvania:
- Altuna – $4,755 per gallon
- Beaver – $4.688 per gallon
- Erie – $4,683 per gallon
- New Castle – $4,681 per gallon
- Pittsburgh – $4.696 per gallon
Not all aspects of car travel are more expensive this year, as motorists can save some money on car rentals. Daily rental rates are down 16% since last year, with the lowest average coming in at around $100 a day. While prices at the pump may hurt vacation money, this trade-off may be beneficial for those traveling to their destinations.
Due to the large number of motorists, the Memorial Day weekend traffic forecast anticipates many delays for those traveling after 1 p.m. Thursday through Monday. While traffic will improve in the evening, the AAA recommends leaving early in the morning to avoid traffic congestion.
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Air travel, and other travel methods to see greater increases
Air travel will also see a significant increase over Memorial Day weekend this year, with AAA estimating that more than 311,000 travelers will take advantage of air travel to reach their destinations. The increase in air travel has been steadily increasing in the region since Thanksgiving, with the number of passengers increasing by 25.1% since this time in 2021.
Flight numbers across the country are expected to increase 25% this year, recovering to pre-pandemic levels with more than 3 million passengers expected to travel over the weekend. Overall, the US is expected to see 7.7% of travelers use air travel this holiday, 0.2% higher than in 2019.
Air fares are also much cheaper than last year, with prices down 6% and tickets averaging about $184 per person. Saturday tickets will be the most expensive for Memorial Day travel, but discounted fares will be available on Mondays and then next week.
While airfares are down, the price of hotels across travel destinations is up 42% per night. In data from AAA, their “mid-range hotels” that meet the company’s approval status currently charge from $199 to $257 per night.
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Other travel options will also see marked increases, with annual bus, train and boat travel numbers increasing. More than 98,000 passengers plan to use these various modes of transportation, 194.8% more than in 2021.
Temperatures remain comfortable, getting hotter in some areas
While many travelers expect summer car rides during the holidays, early forecasts expect comfortable temperatures throughout the weekend.
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In communities across western Pennsylvania, The Weather Channel forecasts the following forecast:
- Erie Thursday will remain sunny with a maximum temperature of 79 degrees. During the weekend, temperatures will be low and highs range from 61 to 71 degrees with rain throughout the weekend. Temperatures soared above 80 degrees on Monday as sunshine returned to the area for the holiday. Temperatures will remain in the high 70’s and low in the 80’s throughout the week.
- Pittsburgh Tomorrow, it will be cloudy in the area, but the temperatures will start to warm with a rise of 84 degrees. Thunderstorms are expected on Friday as the temperature drops rapidly to 73°C. Saturday will see more storms and a drop to 71 degrees, with storms continuing into Sunday but will rise to 78 degrees. Starting on Memorial Day, the weather will quickly turn around for the 85-degree area and stay above. the eighties next week.
- Altoona – And starting in the cold week, temperatures will only reach 70 degrees Celsius on Thursday. After that, rain will begin to cover the area and storms will welcome the weekend. Friday will witness a maximum temperature of 74 degrees Celsius, and Saturday will witness a maximum temperature of 71 degrees Celsius. Sunday will still see scattered storms, but temperatures will start to rise, reaching 78 degrees Celsius. On Memorial Day, the skies will begin to be clear and temperatures will reach 83°C. Temperatures are expected to remain in the high 80s throughout the week.