Expect holiday traffic in Southern California to be heavy and unpredictable. Photo courtesy California Highway Patrol
Expect holiday traffic in Southern California to be heavy and unpredictable. Photo courtesy California Highway Patrol

The busiest travel day of the year will be impacted this time by everything  from king tides in Southern California to a worldwide terror threat.

The Automobile Club of Southern California is projecting 3.5 million Southern California residents and 5.7 million statewide will make a Thanksgiving getaway. That’s an increase of six-tenths of one percent from last year.

“As usual, Southern California road traffic will be heavy and unpredictable during Thanksgiving weekend, particularly on Wednesday and Sunday, so travelers should plan accordingly,” said Filomena Andre, the Auto Club’s vice president for travel products and services.

Caltrans said that highway travel could be slowed by king tides causing coastal flooding, and by rain and even snow in the mountains. The agency urged Californians to check highway conditions online at at http://quickmap.dot.ca.gov/.

Air travelers should keep a watchful eye for terrorists in the wake of the attacks in Paris.

On Monday the State Department issued a worldwide travel alert “due to increased terrorist threats” from ISIS and other organizations. The alert does not suggest that people should cancel travel plans, but advises travelers to exercise caution while in public places or using public transportation and to be aware of their surroundings.

“Air travelers can expect crowds and increased security over this holiday, so we recommend arriving at the airport at least two to three hours early for domestic flights and three to four hours ahead for international flights,” said Andre of the Auto Club.

San Diego International Airport expects as many as 60,000 passengers a day during the Thanksgiving holiday travel period. If lots are full, valet parking is available at both terminals for $38 per 24-hour period. If your plane is delayed or you’re stressed, you can sample some of San Diego’s best craft beer at Stone Brewing Co.‘s airport restaurant.

Caltrans advised travelers to remember basic safety precautions such as checking vehicle fluids and tires, carrying emergency equipment and supplies, avoiding driving while drowsy or otherwise impaired or distracted, and reminding all vehicle occupants to buckle up.

If you need an additional reason to follow this advice, the San Diego Sheriff is planning stepped-up DUI and seat belt enforcement patrols from Thursday through Sunday. The California Highway Patrol is also planning  maximum-enforcement DUI patrols during the long holiday weekend.

One bit of good news about holiday traveling is that gasoline prices in Southern California are about 30 cents lower than at this time last year.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.