Travel won't be easy this holiday

The scene at Penn Station as travelers begin The scene at Penn Station as travelers begin their holiday journeys. (Nov. 25, 2013) Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

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Holiday travelers this year are in for a bit of work before they can bite into a turkey dinner.

Weather conditions for those traveling by car or plane are expected to deteriorate Tuesday and Wednesday as a storm works its way up the Eastern Seaboard to New York.

That means delays at airports and on the roads are almost a sure bet.

But well before that dinner is served, the weather will clear up though remain windy -- just in time for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade that morning.

The 87th annual parade kicks off at 9 a.m. with more than 8,000 participants and dozens of huge balloons and floats.

Travelers on the roads and in the skies Tuesday and Wednesday can expect to be affected by the coastal storm forecast to be mostly rain when it arrives during this evening's rush, said Ashley Sears, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Upton who said it will last through Wednesday afternoon.

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A high-wind watch is in effect for Long Island from late tonight through tomorrow afternoon, with 25- to 40-mph winds and gusts of 50 to 60 mph, the weather service said.

"I honestly hope flights don't get canceled, because, c'mon it's the holiday season," said July Gonzalvo, 21, a personal banker from Connecticut who arrived yesterday at Kennedy Airport from Orlando, Fla.

"People want to see their family. I want to see my family," said Gonzalvo, who will spend the holiday in Bellerose, Queens. "Imagine if I did have my flight on Wednesday; I'd be so bummed."

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For those travelers who have booked flights, winds, low clouds and low visibility could impact air travel, said Lauren Nash, another weather service meteorologist in Upton.

Those leaving Tuesday may beat the storm's effects locally, but could still face delays because of conditions at their destinations. The storm will impact much of the Southeast, including Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, Nash said.

About 613,000 travelers were expected to pass through Kennedy Airport and 291,000 through LaGuardia this long Thanksgiving weekend, according to the Port Authority, which runs both airports.

State figures show a large number of Long Islanders have been hitting the road the Tuesday before Thanksgiving rather than the Wednesday before, which could mean congested traffic today.

On the Tuesdays before Thanksgiving the past two years, vehicles on the Long Island Expressway near the Nassau/Suffolk line either surpassed the number on the following Wednesdays or came close to equaling it, according to the state Department of Transportation.

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Last year, 97,852 vehicles were recorded on Tuesday, Nov. 22, traveling eastbound and 96,971 westbound, with 98,624 heading east the next day and 96,607 west, the DOT said.

In 2011, vehicles traveling on Tuesday, Nov. 24, outnumbered that Wednesday's traffic total in both directions, with 96,352 heading east and 93,642 west, compared with the next day's 92,514 eastbound and 88,234 west, the DOT said. As for train travel, the Long Island Rail Road has put on extra staff ahead of the storm to trim trees and clear leaves from ditches and drains, this with an eye to minimizing "slip-slide" conditions, a spokeswoman said.

Extra staff also will be on call through Thanksgiving day, if needed, for any other storm-related issues, she said. The LIRR is adding extra trains Wednesday afternoon and Thanksgiving Day for those going to the Macy's parade.

With Ciji Thomas

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