Rain won't dampen Thanksgiving weekend travel

rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.comNovember 17, 2012 

— Merced residents hitting the road this weekend better pack some rain boots, according to the National Weather Service.

"There's an 80 percent chance of rain in the Merced area all weekend until Sunday," said Brian Ochs, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Hanford. "There's a 60 percent chance of rain through the day Sunday."

Though the rain won't be extremely heavy, Ochs forecasts at least 0.25 inches of rain tonight and Sunday night. The high temperatures should be about 62 on both days.

But the rainy weather won't stop travelers from taking advantage of their Thanksgiving days off from work, according to AAA.

AAA Northern California's latest travel forecast predicts more than 5.4 million Californians plan to travel 50 miles or more for the upcoming extended four-day Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

AAA Northern California spokeswoman Cynthia Harris said this represents a slight increase when compared with last year.

"After several years of economic uncertainty, Californians are well-versed in budgeting so they can gather with family and friends to celebrate holidays together," Harris said.

Despite the wet weather, Ochs said the temperature won't be as cold in Merced as it has been this past week.

"Unlike the last system that came through, this weather pattern is not as cool," Ochs said, noting that there won't be a lot of snow in the mountains this weekend, at least not below 7,000 feet elevation.

Once the weekend is behind us, so is the rain -- at least for now.

Ochs predicts warmer weather next week, with a small chance of showers on Tuesday and Wednesday. "We get a break on Monday, and luckily, no rain on Thanksgiving," he predicted.

As of now, Thanksgiving day appears to be dry with the high in Merced around 67 degrees.

Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or rgiwargis@mercedsunstar.com.

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