Hitting the highway this Thanksgiving? You’ll need to keep an eye on the road conditions and the traffic.
With snow already in the mountains, poor road conditions and closures could be on their way. Officials advise those planning any travel to include extra time.
Peak travel times on most routes are expected to be westbound (or onto an island) on Wednesday afternoon through Thanksgiving morning and eastbound (or off an island) Thanksgiving afternoon through Friday, Nov. 25.
While it is too early to predict the conditions past Thanksgiving Day, the weather faced by Seattle-area travelers should be uneventful on Wednesday and Thanksgiving Day, aside from lingering showers, said National Weather Service meteorologist Dustin Guy.
A weather system is moving in for next Saturday and Sunday, but whether that will worsen into a snowstorm in mountain passes or leave the roads relatively dry is unclear so far, he said.
“I would definitely recommend anybody who is traveling over the mountains to definitely keep your eye on the forecast because things can change,” he said.
Highway 123, Cayuse Pass, Highway 410, Chinook Pass and Highway 20 (also known as the North Cascades Highway) have closed for the season due to avalanche danger, poor road conditions, lack of snow storage and no nearby emergency-response services.
Traffic analysts at the Washington State Department of Transportation have put together forecasts for how many cars they expect to be on the roads at different times over the weekend.
WSDOT has traffic charts and forecasts for Thanksgiving weekend from Wednesday (Nov. 24) through Sunday (Nov. 28) available at wsdot.wa.gov/travel/holiday-weekend-travel for Highway 2 between Skykomish and Stevens Pass, Interstate 90 between North Bend and Cle Elum, and Interstate 5 between Lacey and Tacoma.
There are no forecasts available for travel to the U.S.-Canada border, WSDOT said.
Due to a staff shortage, roads and passes may take longer to reopen after storms, WSDOT has said. Drivers should check chain and traction-tire requirements and conditions on WSDOT’s mountain pass page.
The Highway 520 bridge and the Highway 99 tunnel will have weekend toll rates on Thanksgiving. On Interstate 405, the express lanes will be free for everyone on Thanksgiving.
Washington’s ferries have been affected by chronic staffing issues this year, and people looking to ride a ferry should stay updated with the latest sailing schedules. Customers can bypass vehicle lines by traveling as walk-on passengers.
Amtrak Cascades passengers should purchase tickets early and plan to arrive at the station early. Tacoma passengers can use the new Tacoma Dome Station at 422 E. 25th St. There are no extra Thanksgiving trains this year.