Holiday travelers greeted by cheap gas, storms

Friday, November 28, 2014, Vol. 38, No. 48
The Associated Press

Some holiday travelers are giving thanks for the cheapest gas prices in years. But that's cold comfort to those beating a path through stormy weather, including a nor'easter affecting a wide swath of the East Coast.

Alas, the yearly Thanksgiving trek, be it across the country or across town, may be a mixed bag of the usual travel headaches with a little extra pocket money as a consolation prize. A snapshot of what it's like out there:



Families piling into minivans can expect to save a few bucks at the pump with the national average gas price falling to $2.81, the lowest in nearly half a decade and 47 cents cheaper than a year ago. Factoring in average fuel economy, a family driving 300 miles will save $7.62 compared with last year.

Not a bonanza perhaps, but it's helping people like Matt Megargee.

The 23-year-old Georgia man had a car full of passengers when he pulled over Wednesday to fill up his tank in Atlanta. He hoped to make it to Chattanooga, Tennessee, within a few hours to see his 9-year-old goddaughter, who is being treated at the Ronald McDonald House.

One traffic jam aside, the low gas prices made the cost a bit easier, he said, though he laughed about some sticker shock in Atlanta.

"It's tough to plan where you might want to stop and refuel," he said. "This ($2.97) is the highest I've seen the whole trip."

-Kathleen Foody in Atlanta



Larson and Alice Hunter and their two young children were in Anchorage, Alaska, heading home to Scammon Bay, a remote Yup'ik Eskimo community of fewer than 500 people on Alaska's western coast.

Back in Scammon Bay, the family will have two Thanksgiving feasts — first with Alice's parents, then with Larson's mother. Along with turkey and the usual fixings, they will have akutaq, or Eskimo ice cream, which usually includes berries, sugar and sometimes fish. Larson's mother will also prepare other native food.

"Moose is typical," Larson said.

"If we're lucky, snow goose," Alice said.

-Rachel D'oro in Anchorage



Angela Marcantonini says the long, steady rumble of thunder accompanying a heavy snow is one of the strangest things she's ever heard.

Marcantonini was getting ready to drive from Blue Bell, a Philadelphia suburb, to the Pocono Mountains for the holiday.

"It caught me off guard. I didn't really think it was thunder at first," she said, describing it as a sustained boom, followed by two short bursts.

The National Weather Service had multiple reports of thundersnow, mostly south and west of Philadelphia, between 11 a.m. and noon.

The weather service says thundersnow can happen when air rises rapidly, and the cooling and condensing produces lightning and thunder.

-Michael Sisak in Philadelphia



At an Interstate 94 rest area between Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan, Sean Ozier was taking a break from helping motorists in need.

It's been a "quiet morning," said Ozier, who is a driver for the state Department of Transportation Courtesy Patrol.

The snow was light. Traffic was light. There were only a few calls about flat tires and abandoned vehicles.

It's not always that way.

"A lot of times this time of year people hit the road and don't do the proper (vehicle) inspections," he said. "Somebody rushing to the airport to pick somebody up and they didn't stop at the gas station before they go — and, you know, they're on the side of the road literally a mile from the airport."

-Jeff Karoub in Van Buren Township, Michigan



"We figure no one wants to go to Vegas on Thanksgiving," says Australian Alex Tingat, who came from Brisbane with her boyfriend, Joel Akins.

They do.

During a layover in Honolulu, the couple said they found deals on accommodations during the holiday.

But while hotels may be cheaper, flights aren't. After landing in Los Angeles, they planned to take a bus to Las Vegas.

Akins said he was bracing for travel to be more hectic once they got to the mainland U.S.

-Jennifer Sinco Kelleher in Honolulu