If current projections hold true, traveling will be up and the weather will be great for the final holiday weekend of the summer.
An estimated 34.1 million people will be traveling 50 miles or more across the U.S. this Labor Day weekend, an increase of 4.2 percent over last year, according to the American Automobile Association’s 2013 travel forecast. And as of Sunday evening the National Weather Service was calling for sunny weather all three days.
“It looks pretty good at this point for Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday,” said Liz Sommerville with the NWS office in Charleston, W.Va.
She said only a slight chance-less than 20 percent-of showers was indicated for Sunday next weekend.
“Temperatures should be in the low to mid 80s, with lows in the mid to upper 60s and partly to mostly sunny all three days,” Sommerville added.
That’s good news for Courtney Francis, 18, of Marietta.
“I’m planning to travel to Easton, Pa., for the weekend,” she said. “I have family there, and we go to a local amusement park, Dorney Park, every year.”
Yolanda Ewing of Westerville was fueling up her van after dropping her son off at Marietta College Sunday.
“Normally we do travel to spend some time in Florida on Labor Day weekend, but this year we’re waiting until October because we’re having a wedding,” she said.
Nearby, Justin Morrison from Parkersburg was also gassing up.
“I like to travel, but with the gas prices I just don’t have the money to do much traveling on Labor Day,” he said. “We’re not planning much this year-probably a cookout.”
Darylann Boley of Newport agreed.
“If the gas prices were a lot better we would travel, but this year we’ll stay home together with the family,” she said.
The AAA travel forecast said for most people fuel cost shouldn’t be a big factor for the weekend’s travel as prices are generally lower than the same time last year. Local prices in Marietta Sunday were averaging between $3.41 and $3.44.
AAA reported that the nationwide average price of a gallon of unleaded fuel at this time last year was $3.69, compared to a national average of $3.59 this year.
Elaine Eve of Toronto, Canada, had been traveling in a motorhome with her husband and stopped at the Marietta WalMart Sunday afternoon.
“We use diesel, and the highest price we’ve paid so far is around $3.99 a gallon,” she said. “We left home Aug. 15 and traveled to Brooklyn, Mich. for the NASCAR race, then traveled to Bristol, Tenn., for another race. Now we’re headed back home.”
Eve said they make the trip to Michigan every year, but this was the first time in Tennessee.
“But we do have plans for Labor Day weekend,” she added. “My husband and two kids will take an off-road trip to North Bay, Ontario.”
Travelers surveyed from the East North Central area of the U.S., which includes Ohio, in the AAA report said they expected to spend an average of $740 over the weekend.