Wet Thanksgiving, but sunny weekend

Posted: November 29, 2013

After a wet start to the Thanksgiving holiday, travelers and shoppers in the Philadelphia region can expect mostly sunny weather through the weekend.

Rain and some freezing precipitation moved up the Eastern Seaboard on Wednesday, but building high pressure was expected to keep the area dry for the next few days, said Lee Robertson, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mount Holly.

Overnight lows will dip into the 20s in most of the area, Robertson said. Temperatures should stay above freezing starting Saturday, and highs will hit the mid-40s for the first half of next week.

The 6ABC Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade was expected to go as expected Thursday, a spokesman said.

On Wednesday, Philadelphia International Airport reported 57 cancellations and one- to two-hour delays for some arrivals, though those delays could vary by carrier. About 95,000 people were expected to use the airport on one of the most heavily traveled days of the year.

"We have not had a lot of lines," added US Airways spokesman Todd Lehmacher.

No major US Airways flights were canceled in Philadelphia, though there were some regional cancellations, Lehmacher said. Nationwide, US Airways canceled six "mainline" flights and 59 regional US Airways Express flights by 3 p.m. US Airways has about 70 percent of the Philadelphia airport market.

US Airways will curtail flights on Thursday and Friday, not big travel days because of the holiday, and boost the number of flights by about 13 percent on Saturday and Sunday. The carrier will add 330 flights on Saturday and 400 flights on Sunday.

Holiday travelers crowded the region's highways and railroads Wednesday, but they faced relatively few weather delays and disruptions.

Amtrak had its busiest day of the year, with about 140,000 passengers on the national rail system, including about 18,000 at Philadelphia's 30th Street Station, said spokesman Craig Schulz. For the seven days between Tuesday and next Monday, Amtrak expects to carry about 750,000 people, including 300,000 on the Northeast Corridor.

Some trains were delayed by trees that fell into wires in New England.

SEPTA and NJ Transit had busy days, but many regular commuters stayed home while holiday travelers took their place.

"It's not a mad crush, but it is bustling," said NJT spokeswoman Nancy Snyder. "We're doing well, so far."

The Thanksgiving holiday is the busiest travel time of the year on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, where more than 2.6 million vehicles were expected between Wednesday and Sunday.

About 680,000 vehicles were expected Wednesday, and 510,000 on Sunday, said turnpike spokesman William Capone.

Construction crews have been pulled off the turnpike to keep all lanes open until 6 a.m. Monday.

Pennsylvania State Police will have a large presence on the roads - and conduct DUI checkpoints throughout the region - over the weekend to head off reckless drivers and respond to accidents.

"The only thing we can do is try to be out there in force, to make people see us and slow down," Cpl. Gerard McShea said.

Contributing to this article were Inquirer staff writers Bob Fernandez, Robert Moran, and Aubrey Whelan.