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Everything you need to know before hitting the road for Thanksgiving

The weather forecast for the long Thanksgiving weekend looks clear but cold for the millions of people planning on traveling for the holiday.

Here’s everything you need to know before hitting the road this holiday weekend.


The high temperatures on Thursday are only expected to reach 22-27 degrees in the Chicago area, but it won’t be a white Thanksgiving — no snow is in the forecast.

Last year, the low reached 19 on Thanksgiving. The lowest temperature ever recorded on the holiday was minus 1 in 1950.

Friday will be breezy with high temperatures between 32 and 38 degrees, according to the weather service. Saturday will be warmer, with high between 46 and 53 degrees. Sunday will be partly cloudy with a high between 40 and 49 degrees.

The holiday weekend should remain dry, with very little to no precipitation expected, according to the weather service.


That should make it easier for the 2.4 million Illinoisans expected to travel between Wednesday and Sunday, according to a statement from the American Automobile Association.

AAA estimates a 5 percent increase in travelers in Illinois from 2013, with 2.16 million expected to drive, and about 182,000 expected to fly. Though some parts of the country are experiencing flight problems as a storm hits the Northeast Wednesday, no major cancellations or delays have been reported at Chicago’s airports as of 10:30 a.m.

More than 1.9 million passengers are expected at O’Hare and Midway over the eight-day period beginning Tuesday and ending Dec. 2, according to the city Department of Aviation. At O’Hare, nearly 1.4 million passengers are expected, a 1.5 percent increase over 2013, according to the statement. Airlines at Midway anticipate a 3 percent increase over 2013, with more than 530,000 passengers expected over the next week.

The busiest day at both airports will be Sunday, according to Aviation.

The Illinois Tollway is preparing for about 8.3 million vehicles on their system over the holiday weekend. The busiest day is expected on Wednesday, when 1.7 million vehicles — 300,000 more than an average day — are expected.

The state Department of Transportation will suspend all non-emergency roadwork starting at 3 p.m. Wednesday through midnight Sunday to reduce congestion for holiday travelers, according to a statement from the agency. Some construction zones will still have lane closures in effect, however.

IDOT also announced a joint campaign with Illinois State Police on Tuesday, encouraging drivers to “Click It or Ticket” and “Driver Sober or Get Pulled Over” throughout the holidays.

“As a result of a drunk driver or someone choosing not to buckle up, families all over Illinois will not share the holidays with a loved one this year,” acting IDOT Secretary Erica Borggen said in a statement.

“With strong enforcement efforts throughout the year and the upcoming holiday season, we hope to keep fatalities on the decline and save more lives in Illinois,” Borggen said.

Metra will operate all lines on a Sunday/holiday schedule on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the agency will run a special early quit schedule. Service will return to normal on Friday. Travelers should check Metra’s website for holiday schedules.

Amtrak announced a plan earlier this month to add 18 more trains to its schedule between Chicago and Michigan over the holiday weekend. Extra trains will operate in addition to the Amtrak Wolverine Service, Blue Water and Pere Marquette trains, according to a statement from Amtrak. Michigan passengers will also find new stations in Grand Rapids and Troy.

Amtrak will operate every available passenger rail car in its fleet due to the expected holiday surge, the statement said. Amtrak is also scheduling extra trains and adding capacity on several routes.

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