NEW YORK — Fair weather helped make the holiday journey a not-so-painful experience in much of the country Thursday, even with more people on the move than last year, but travelers' luck might be running out.
A storm was expected to bring snow and ice to parts of the heartland today, deliver a rare white Christmas to Nashville on Saturday, and perhaps sock swaths of the Northeast on Sunday.
"People that are going to Grandma's house," said Bobby Boyd, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Nashville, "need to get going."
Steve Brown, 50, of Elm Creek, Neb., left Tuesday afternoon and drove all night to beat the storm as it worked its way east. Brown, a grain hauler, was taking his two children to see his mother on the Ohio dairy farm where he grew up.
"I had orders to come home or she was going to come get me," Brown said at the Elmore rest area on the Ohio Turnpike in Elmore, Ohio, where adults filled up on coffee while kids, traveling in pajamas, loaded up on Tater Tots.
Eric and Tatiana Chodkowski, of Boston, were driving Thursday with their kids, ages 2 and 4, to see relatives in New York. They said forecasts for snow on Sunday made them wonder whether they'd make it back home then, as planned.
They deemed the roads congested but manageable Thursday, and most people found the nation's airports to be the same way.
At airports, the long security lines feared over Thanksgiving, when practically everyone is on the move the same day, never materialized, and aren't expected to now. The spread-out nature of the year-end holidays means things won't be quite so cramped.
Travelers may notice that airport screeners are taking a closer look at empty insulated beverage containers like thermoses because air carriers have been alerted about a potential terrorism tactic involving them, an administration official said.
The official, who spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity, stressed that there is no intelligence about an active terrorism plot. The Homeland Security Department regularly alerts law enforcement about evolving terrorism tactics.
The AAA has expected overall travel to rise about 3 percent this year, with more than 92 million people planning to go more than 50 miles sometime between now and Jan. 2. More than 90 percent said they would be driving.