More travelers but clearing skies for holiday trips

By: Gloria Young Journal Staff Writer
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Travelers over the Christmas holiday can expect a lot of company on the highways and in the air. AAA predicts 11.3 percent more Californians will travel than last year. “The fact that more Californians are traveling during this holiday season appears to indicate that consumers are more willing to spend money on leisure travel,” AAA of Northern California spokeswoman Cynthia Harris said in a press release. According to AAA projections, more than 9.9. million Californians will travel by car to their holiday destinations during Christmas and New Year’s. Another 633,000 will travel by air and another 800,000 will go by boat or train. Nationally, 87.7 million people will travel 50 miles or more during the holiday period, up 3.8 percent over last year, AAA said. For travelers planning a trip to the Bay Area, Capitol Corridor trails will run on a weekend/holiday schedule on Christmas and New Year’s Day. At Renee Travel in Downtown Auburn, owner Julie Shelp said volume is about the same as last year. “For the holidays, they’re visiting family,” she explained. There have been some bookings for New Year’s weekend in Disneyland, but the current focus is on late winter-early spring travel — cruises, and trips to Mexico and Hawaii, she said. “There are deals still out there,” Shelp added. Those heading out to holiday destinations can expect clearing skies and mild temperatures Wednesday into Saturday. The unsettled weather that brought showers to the foothills and snow to the Sierra Sunday and Monday will move out by Tuesday afternoon, National Weather Service forecaster Johnnie Powell said Monday afternoon. The seasonal storm will add 8 inches to a foot of snow in the upper elevations of the Sierra, with precipitation turning to flurries before clearing out Tuesday afternoon. Before it’s over, Auburn could see up to a half inch of rain from the mild system, Powell said. “Basically, when the system clears out, high pressure sets in and we’ll be OK for Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and most of Saturday,” Powell said. Temperatures through Christmas Day will range in the upper 50s in the Auburn area, possibly even hitting 60 during the day, and mid-40s at night. For the Sierra, Wednesday through Christmas Day will see sunny skies and temperatures ranging from the low 20s at night to the 40s during the day. Fog will be an issue for valley highways Tuesday, but breezy conditions Wednesday into Thursday should scour out the low-lying clouds, Powell said. The next storm system is forecast to arrive Saturday, which could mean treacherous highways for those returning home after Christmas. Gloria Young can be reached at