Slippery roads, heavy holiday traffic: big traffic jams leading to airports before Thanksgiving

More than 2 inches of rain can be expected, according to Veronica Johnson, 7News First Alert chief meteorologist.

Listen to WTOP online and on the radio on 103.5 FM or 107.7 FM for traffic and weather information on all 8.

Halloween is over, but it looks like Thanksgiving will be the new nightmare – at least when it comes to traveling in the Washington DC area.

Heavy rain all day Tuesday made roads in the area slippery and are now full of vacationers.

“If you ventured out tonight, I hope you did so with reduced expectations, especially on the Beltway and (Interstate) 95,” WTOP traffic reporter Dave Dildine said. adding that there were a lot of out-of-state license plates contributing to the congestion.

Arrive at the airport?

Roads leading to airports in the region are particularly affected.

Very heavy traffic and long queues developed on roads near Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport. By 5 p.m. on the George Washington Parkway, southbound traffic had backed up on Interstate 395 and delays were mounting.

Around Dulles, westbound traffic on Dulles Access Road slowed near Route 28 as airport officials urged drivers to use the arrivals area, even for drop-offs.

Airport travelers tend to rely more on cars rather than public transportation in the rain and with airport traffic increasing ahead of the holidays, it’s a perfect storm for delays before even arriving at the terminal.

If you’re bold enough to venture out, do so with lowered expectations: you’ll be less disappointed when you inevitably hit the brakes.

As you might expect, traffic is heavy and slow on I-95 and the Capital Beltway. A crash involving a bus backed up northbound traffic on I-395 near King Street for about an hour and, on rain-slicked roads, there were also several skid accidents.

When does the rain stop?

At the Bay Bridge, it was a long task because there is no traffic in both directions. “In windy or rainy weather, eastbound drivers lose a lane” and today, the loss of the reversible lane has created a 10-mile-long eastbound reserve on Route 50.

Pouring rain fell all day. The region also experienced gusty winds.

Between 1 and 2 inches of rain can be expected, according to Veronica Johnson, 7News First Alert chief meteorologist.

The rain should gradually stop after midnight.

Travelers line up at ticket counters at Dulles International Airport a day before the busiest travel day of the year. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

Make travel plans

Tens of millions of people are expected to drive for the Thanksgiving holiday, meaning intense traffic jams will likely greet drivers when they hit the road.

According to AAA, about 50 million Americans will get behind the wheel this week, an increase of nearly 2% from last year. More than 1.25 million people in the Washington, D.C. area will hit the road over Thanksgiving weekend, making it the second-highest number since AAA began tracking holiday travel in 2000 .

The most difficult and crowded time to go for Thanksgiving will be Wednesday, Nov. 22, between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., AAA said. For motorists, the best solution to avoid the heaviest traffic is to leave early in the morning or late in the evening.

“Leaving at an inopportune time generally maximizes your chances of having a good time,” said WTOP Traffic reporter Dave Dildine. “You will find that the roads are beautiful and quiet.”

Carl, a commuter from New York, spoke with WTOP about how he avoids the worst of the traffic: “(Leaving) really early. People had to either continue working or sleep. That’s the thing.

With gas prices down and Thanksgiving travel expected to increase, WTOP’s John Domen spoke with some already traveling through Maryland.

Airports in the region experienced some delays.

For those flying, the TSA recommendation is to arrive two hours before domestic flights and three hours before international flights.

“We left three hours before our flight to get here,” a woman from Dulles International Airport told WTOP on her way to Aruba with her fiancée.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein spoke with Dulles International Airport passengers traveling for the holidays.


Areas of moderate and heavy rain
Time: 50 years and over
The winds: Is 10-20 mph
First Alert The weather is on STORM ALERT for moderate to heavy rain in the evening. Combined with gusty winds, expect a slowdown across the region as holiday travel increases. The forecast calls for widespread rain totals of 1-2″, with higher amounts possible.

Moderate to heavy rain
Persistent showers after midnight
Time: the 50’s
The winds: West 10-20+ mph
Pockets of moderate to heavy rain will end after midnight, leaving only a few lingering showers behind. The wind will pick up and temperatures will warm until late at night.

Becoming mostly sunny. Windy
Peaks : the 50’s
The winds: Northwest 15-20 mph, gusts to 30 mph
Most of the showers should disappear by dawn, skies becoming mostly sunny with gusty northwest winds.

Quite sunny
Peaks : the 50’s
The winds: Northwest 5-15 mph
Bright sunshine and highs in the 50s will make vacation travel easy.

Quite sunny
Peaks : 50-55
The winds: Northwest 5-10 mph
The forecast remains dry for a busy holiday shopping day. Northwest winds with plenty of sunshine will make traveling around the DMV easier.


Will Vitka, Dave Dildine, Neal Augenstein, John Domen, from WTOP Nick Iannelli, Jessica Kronzer and Dana Sukontarak contributed to this report.

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