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Fewer expected to travel this wet weekend

Staff Writer | May 22, 2020 1:00 AM

This Memorial Day weekend may see the lowest travel volume in the last 20 years, according to Matthew Conde, AAA Idaho spokesman.

Last year, 43 million Americans took to the road for the holiday weekend, the second-highest amount on record.

“During the 2009 recession, only 31 million Americans made the trip,” Conde said. “This year travel volume will be below those Great Recession travel numbers.”

While some people are experiencing financial difficulties, for others their financial picture and therefore the surplus means to travel hasn’t changed. What has changed is the availability of a destination and the safety and social distancing measures in place once people get where they are going.

“The outdoors are going be a very attractive option,” Conde said. “The cost is low and there is a greater chance of maintaining social distancing.”

Local climatologist Cliff Harris predicts a wet Memorial Day weekend, with lows in the 40s, highs in the 50s, and continued showers. Sunday will warm up, with temperatures reaching 70 degrees.

Over the last 10 days, Coeur d’Alene received 2 1/4 inches of rain, with a full inch on Wednesday. While showers are expected to persist throughout the next week, Monday looks like the best day.

“Warmer temperatures in the low 70s, a chance of afternoon or evening showers, not a big chance, but a typical Memorial Day,” Harris said.

Twenty-one times out of 50, Memorial Day will see rain, but Harris said expect sunshine.

The weekend will bring some snow, as low as 3,500 feet in the mountains, an unusual weather pattern for May. Spokane received record rainfall Wednesday with 1.38 inches, the most ever recorded on May 20.

“This was the needed moisture after a dry March and April,” Harris said. “We got it, but we have to pay a little penalty with residual showers. We can work our way around it, just like the COVID-19.”

Conde encourages travelers to observe COVID-19 restrictions and guidance when on the road.

“Every state is opening in different ways and at different times,” Conde said. “Obviously the decision to travel is very personal.”

To get to their holiday destination, travelers will be filling up their gas tanks, noticing the price jump, almost 27 cents in one and half weeks.

It’s above $1.70 in Kootenai County for a gallon of unleaded.

A gallon of gasoline on average in Idaho, cost $2.08 Thursday, 16 cents more than a month ago. “But still about $1.13 cheaper than a year ago,” Conde said. “The market is being encouraged by all of this activity and we are seeing prices move already. Prices may move more dramatically as more states open up.”