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The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

December 23, 2014 at 9:03 AM

Travelers: By air or land, planning could pay off

Update at 6:30: Rain may be mixed with snow at elevations above 500 feet in the interior lowlands Tuesday evening and early Wednesday, the National Weather Service said Tuesday afternoon.

Heavy rain is forecast to continue through Wednesday morning, with the possibility of snow. If snow does fall, it will be too warm to stick on roads and sidewalks, according to the NWS forecast.

One to 3 inches of rain is forecast in the lowlands through Tuesday night. River flooding is possible for the Tolt River in King County and the Skokomish River in Mason County.

Original post: Snow on Christmas Eve? The National Weather Service says rain showers expected Wednesday morning could bring a little snow to the higher elevations around the Puget Sound.

But the snow isn’t expected to last long before afternoon rains wash it away.

Travelers headed out of the Seattle area by land or air are advised to get updated information to help plan their trips.

For those crossing mountain passes, that means checking for weather, road conditions and traction requirements with the state Department of Transportation at www.wsdot.com/traffic/passes.

For air travelers, it’s prudent to check with your airline for schedule changes, delays and cancellations.

Even though Christmas weather at Sea-Tac is expected to be benign, fog, storms and low cloud ceilings on the East Coast have created delays affecting travelers across the country.

Fog disrupted U.S. pre-Christmas travel with more than 2,500 delays at airports including New York’s LaGuardia, where two planes clipped each other while taxiing.

No passengers or crew were injured, said Ron Marsico, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs LaGuardia.

Seattle travelers can check their flights at http://www.portseattle.org/Sea-Tac/Flights-Airlines.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are two of the lightest travel days of the holiday season, with between 86,000 and 90.000 passengers expected to pass through Sea-Tac each day.

Last Friday is expected to have been the season’s busiest day, with 110,400 passengers arriving or departing. That’s well below the year’s busiest day at the airport, Aug. 1, which saw 128,200.

Airport spokesman Perry Cooper said the port expects Sea-Tac to reach a record total of more than 37 million passengers for the year, up about 7 percent from last year.

Although the passenger count at Christmastime is lower than summer, congestion leading to the arrival and departure areas is up, Cooper said.

Summertime travelers are more likely to come and go on their own, he said, while Christmas week travelers are more likely to have someone drop them off or pick them up.

He suggests greater use of the cellphone waiting lot, where drivers can wait for a phone call from an arriving passenger. To minimize congestion, Cooper requests that you have them call from the baggage claim area when they are ready to be picked up, instead of immediately after their plane touches down.

It’s best to avoid taking wrapped gifts through airport security, because TSA agents may need to see what’s inside. You can get them wrapped after you pass security at gift-wrapping stations accepting donations to the USO.

 

 

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