Tips on dealing with road, airport and ferry travel in Western Washington.
Memorial Day weekend is here, and you know what that means: Crowds, crowds, crowds at Sea-Tac Airport, on the roads, and aboard ferries around Western Washington. But at least there should be a bit of sun in the lowlands.
Drivers and barbecue champions in the Seattle area can expect mild Memorial Day weather and at least a glimpse of sun this year.
“It looks like Saturday and Sunday are going to be mostly cloudy. There’s not going to be much rain,” said Johnny Burg, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “On Memorial Day, we’re looking at partly sunny with with highs in the 70s.”
There’s a 10 percent chance of showers on Memorial Day, Burg said.
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If you’re headed to the Cascades, expect some rain. “It will be nice down here in the lowlands, but the mountains might see a chance of showers or afternoon thunderstorms,” Burg said.
The Olympics might have a better chance of being dry, he said.
Here are some tips on coping with the crush of holiday-weekend travelers and how to get more information.
More than a half-million passengers will go through Sea-Tac Airport from Thursday through Monday (May 21-25). Friday will be the most crowded day, with an estimated 120,000 travelers, said a statement from airport spokesman Perry Cooper.
Sea-Tac has been booming. “Through April of this year, Sea-Tac Airport has seen nearly three times the projected number of passengers, with a 13 percent overall increase and 16 percent jump of international passengers,” said Cooper.
Some tips for coping with airport crowds this Memorial Day weekend:
• Passengers should get to the airport two hours early for domestic flights, three hours for international, says the airport, in order to deal with check-in and security lines.
• Know what you can, and can’t, pack in your carry-on luggage so you can get through TSA security more smoothly
• Check in and print your boarding pass at home, and try to travel with carry-on baggage only so you can avoid airport check-in procedures.
• Take transit or get a ride to the airport to avoid parking fees and congestion at the airport garage or nearby lots. To avoid congestion on the airport drives, get dropped off at the arrivals area and picked up at the departure level if they look less crowded.
• People picking up passengers can use the cellphone waiting lot in order to avoid circling the airport drives.
If you’re driving out of town, check the Washington State Department of Transportation’s traffic flow charts for the least congested times. They show hour-by-hour expected traffic levels on major routes for Memorial Day weekend, including Interstate 5, I-90 and Highway 2 (across Stevens Pass).
As usual, Friday afternoon, Saturday morning and Monday afternoon will have the worst traffic. Get updates as you go on WSDOT Twitter or phone 511 for recorded info.
Border crossings into Canada will be very busy. Last weekend, a holiday weekend in British Columbia, saw waits of several hours at times.
Still thinking of going to the San Juan Islands? Vehicle reservationsare now available on Washington State Ferries routes to/from the islands, with a final release of reserved space on boats available two days before each sailing date.
If you’re taking a vehicle and don’t have a reservation, expect long, long waits at Anacortes and island terminals. On holiday weekends, you might not get on a boat at all; as few as 10 percent of vehicle spaces are saved for non-reservation travelers westbound from Anacortes and eastbound from Friday Harbor and Orcas Island.