Wisconsin Motorists, Fliers Begin Holiday Journeys

Holiday travelers are taking to Wisconsin’s road and airports on Saturday hoping to avoid any weather delays or other hassles as they head to their final destinations for the Christmas holiday.

AAA officials said that they believe about 91.9 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home from now through the end of the year. This forecast represents a 1.4 percent increase above the 90.7 million people who traveled one year ago, officials said. They said the 11-day year-end holiday period is the longest holiday travel season of the year, which might afford many to take time off and visit family and friends. affording many more Americans time to visit family or take vacations.

Closer to home, AAA officials said that about 1.8 million people are expected to travel for the year-end holidays in Wisconsin, a 0.5 percent increase over the 2010 numbers. About 1.6 million people plan to travel by car while 96,000 will fly, officials said.

Motorists will find gas prices averaging $3.23 per gallon, officials said.

While travelers go to and fro, weather won’t have much of an impact on those in south-central Wisconsin. WISC-TV meteorologist Gary Cannalte said that Christmas Eve will be partly sunny and a little milder. Daytime highs will reach 37 degrees. By nightfall, skies will be partly cloudy and quiet with lows dipping to 22 degress.

Cannalte said that Christmas Day will be partly sunny and breezy with highs reaching 35 degrees.

The weather conditions weren’t quite as favorable on Friday. A light snow fell in the northern and western portion of the state on Friday, causing a mess for drivers trying to get going early for the holiday weekend. Several crashes and slideoffs were reported in the La Crosse area, which led to traffic backups on Interstate 90, Highway 16 and other main roads.

The crashes also snarled traffic around the West Towne Mall in Madison on Friday afternoon while last-minute shoppers rushed to get the job done and take advantage of some great deals.

Kohl’s and Macy’s stores are open until midnight on Friday. Several others are opening early Saturday morning. Toys ‘R Us stores are open now until 10 p.m. on Saturday.

Stay tuned to WISC-TV and Channel 3000 for continuing coverage.