Pack a winter coat if you're planning to travel for Thanksgiving — or be prepared to shiver. The coldest temperatures of the season will hit the heartland as the holiday arrives, forecasters say.
While it will be cold, there's no snow or ice in the forecast for Kansas.
Travel nationwide over the Thanksgiving period is expected to increase by more than 11 percent, to 42.2 million people, according to projections from the American Automobile Association.
Travel in the Midwest, including Kansas, is projected to increase 12 percent, according to the AAA.
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"The thing that's interesting for this year is a higher percentage of travelers are doing what they're doing by car," said Jim Hanni, executive vice president for the Kansas Region.
Most of those surveyed cited the economy as the reason they were traveling by car rather than by plane.
Drivers in much of the country — including Kansas — should get a break from the weather this Thanksgiving.
"The good news is we're not looking at any snow or freezing rain" for much of the country on Thanksgiving, said Robb Lawson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita. "It doesn't look that bad at all."
There are exceptions, of course: Minneapolis and Chicago are likely to see snow, along with the Dakotas.
Closer to home, high temperatures on Thursday will be about half what they were on Sunday — hovering in the mid-30s. Wind chills Wednesday night and Thursday morning could drop below zero in central Kansas and into the single digits in the Wichita area.
"It will turn sharply colder," said Mike Smith, chief executive of WeatherData, the private forecasting firm that is a subsidiary of AccuWeather.
Not that anyone should be surprised by that, he said.
"This is November."
Folks planning to camp out in front of stores for Black Friday sales will want to bundle up, Lawson said. Lows will be flirting with the teens.
Folks planning to fly during this holiday period better pack plenty of patience with them, officials said. Officials at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport are advising travelers to arrive two hours prior to their scheduled departure.
"We're expecting our busiest days" later this week, said Valerie A. Wise, air service and business development manager for the Wichita Airport Authority.
An estimated 2,500 passengers are scheduled to depart from Mid-Continent Wednesday and this weekend, she said.
The airport is busiest early in the morning, Wise said.
"We have 13 departures between 5 and 8 a.m.," she said.
Mid-Continent does not have the imaging machines that have been the source of controversy around the country, she said, and pat-downs only are given if a passenger sets off the metal detectors twice.
"That's a very few number of passengers that have to have the pat-down," Wise said. "If you don't set off the metal detectors, you don't have to worry about a pat-down."
Air passengers need to remember to remove all metal — jewelry, belt buckles —"any metal that you have, as much as possible," Wise said. "TSA will give you ample opportunity to pass the metal detectors."
Nationally, officials were cautioning travelers to plan for delays because of the more-thorough-than-usual screenings.
Smith, for one, hopes to avoid flying.
"I've had the grope search," he said. "I don't like it. It's completely unnecessary.
He will be flying to Charlotte on business next week with two business companions after they rejected his offer to drive.
"I'm going to do everything I can to keep from flying until they find a way to fix it," he said.
Busy roads, too
Drivers also will be getting extra scrutiny during this holiday period.
Sedgwick County Sheriff's Officers are participating in the Kansas Thanksgiving Traffic Enforcement Mobilization, which began Monday and extends through Sunday.
Deputies will be "especially vigilant" in finding drivers who are impaired and occupants who are not wearing seat belts, Sgt. Troy Wells said in a prepared statement.
Wichita police will conduct a special traffic assignment focusing on drunk driving and speeding on Wednesday and Thursday.
State law requires all front seat passengers to be buckled in and allows law enforcement officers to stop a vehicle if a person in the vehicle is observed to not be wearing a seat belt.
Children under the age of 4 must be secured in a federally approved child safety seat. Children between 4 and 7 must be securely belted into an approved booster seat, and children from 8 to 13 must be safety belted.
On average, more than five people a day in Kansas are killed or injured in alcohol-related accidents, Wells said.
Motorists will be able to draw on an enhanced 511 mobile application offered by the Kansas Department of Transportation to get current information on weather and road conditions around the state.
Motorists can learn more about the improvements by going to www.ksdot.org.
The free site provides map, camera and electronic message sign views, road conditions, work zone and event information and links to weather.
The site is accessible for multiple devices, state officials said, including iPhones, Droids and Windows mobile devices, Version 6.0 and higher.
Devices not compatible with the new application will have access to text information only for road conditions and work zones.
Travelers may call 511 from anywhere in Kansas or 1-866-511-KDOT (5368) from anywhere in the U.S. to get route-specific road conditions, work zone information, including detours and closed roads, and travel-related weather information for Kansas and surrounding states.