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More travelers, maximum enforcement on highways for Thanksgiving

By: Gloria Young, Journal Staff Writer
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Thanksgiving means a road trip for approximately 4.7 million Californians this week. That’s up 12.1 percent from last year, according to AAA of Northern California. “While (people) remain cautious regarding their household expenditures, analysts believe Californians are slightly better off financially than they were a year go and that the economy is inching its way along to a recovery,” AAA spokeswoman Cynthia Harris said in a press release. “This improvement, added to the strong desire to spend time with family and friends, is expected to propel a significant increase in Thanksgiving travel. At Renee Travel in Downtown Auburn, owner Julie Shelp said typically she doesn’t book many cruises or vacation trips over the Thanksgiving holiday. “Most people are staying home,” she said. “It seems like fewer people are taking trips this year (compared to last year).” Thanksgiving, as well as its focus on family, is also a shorter timeframe, she added. However, for those planning vacations during the Christmas-New Year’s holiday, most of the good deals have been snapped up already. “If you haven’t made reservations yet, you’re not going to get there,” Shelp said. “The flights are full.” In total, more than 5.2 million Californians will travel 50 or more miles over the four-day Thanksgiving holiday, AAA said. That includes more than 300,000 opting to go by plane and another 140,000 by boat or train. Travelers on the highways can expect to see additional California Highway Patrol cars. “The maximum enforcement period runs from Wednesday, Nov. 24 at 6 p.m. through midnight Sunday, Nov. 28,” CHP spokesman David Martinez said. “Basically all available officers will be working the roads that weekend. We put everyone who’s available out there.” Speeding and alcohol are typically the biggest problem areas. “People tend to be in a hurry to get to their destinations,” Martinez said. “And with the alcohol, hopefully, if they are going to drink, they’ll set aside a designated driver.” There’ll be a major focus on seat belts, too, he said. Weather wise, the storm system that brought as much as 78 inches of snow to some parts of the Sierra and more than 2 inches of rain in Auburn from Friday through Monday afternoon, will have moved eastward, leaving partly to mostly sunny skies but chilly temperatures Wednesday and Thursday. “We’re looking at near-record low temperatures Wednesday morning — lows in the mid-20s, said Holly Osborne, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. “That’s 10 to 20 degrees below normal. Highs will be in the lower 40s.” Another storm is on the horizon for the weekend, moving in Friday night. It will be a warmer system with higher snow levels and it will bring rain to Auburn. By Sunday, the traditional return day for holiday travelers, there should be clearing skies in the foothills with lingering snow showers in the Sierra, Osborne said. Reach Gloria Young at gloriay@goldcountrymedia.com.