Record number of Americans expected to travel for the holidays

A record number of Americans will take to the skies, roads and rails during the 11-day holiday travel period, according to a forecast by AAA.

A record-breaking 112.5 million travelers, more than one-third of Americans, represents a 4.4 percent increase over last year. It’s the most since AAA began tracking holiday travel.

•AAA predicts that 102.1 million Americans will travel by car this holiday season. About 6.7 million people will travel by air, the highest number in 15 years and 4.2 percent more than last year.

The holiday travel period starts Saturday and runs through Jan. 1.

•AAA reports that pump prices in Nebraska and Iowa are much lower than the national average. Unleaded gasoline in Nebraska averages $2.21 a gallon; in Iowa, it’s $2.14, but drivers can find gas for about $2 a gallon in Omaha.

Both states experienced significant price drops of 37 cents a gallon during the past month. Compared to last year, pump prices in Nebraska are 23 cents lower; in Iowa, prices are 28 cents lower.

“We do anticipate that fuel prices will continue to retreat,” said Rose White, a spokeswoman for AAA Nebraska. “We saw a drop (in oil prices) of $5 per barrel this week. We are monitoring five (Nebraska) communities with gas prices under $2 a gallon and we anticipate there will be more soon.”

•Area drivers can expect decent weather until Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service in Valley.

Some light precipitation is expected across the Northern Plains Friday into Saturday, the weather service said. Snow or heavy rain aren’t expected.

High temperatures throughout Nebraska and Iowa are expected to be in the upper 30s and mid-40s Saturday. It’s possible that the area will see some precipitation into Monday night, but “this is not expected to have much of an impact on travel,” according to the weather service forecast.

Another weather system moving through the area beginning Wednesday “could have an impact on travel,” but there is still a lot of uncertainty,” the weather service said.

•Whether traveling or staying at home, Omaha residents should be aware of a change in the city’s waste collection schedule. Garbage, recyclable and yard waste won’t be collected on Christmas Day or New Year’s Day.

As a result, solid waste collection will be delayed by one day for the remainder of the week following each of the holidays. The regular collection schedule will resume Jan. 7.

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