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Good Question: Does Bad Weather Really Affect Holiday Plans?

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(credit: CBS) Heather Brown
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — If you were to listen to the headlines, “Nature threatens holiday happiness,” you wouldn’t be crazy to think no one will be getting home for the holidays.

Last week, AAA predicted 1.5 percent fewer people will be traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday due to the economy. Now, we’re watching several reports of winter storms affecting millions of people traveling on Wednesday.

So, that had us wondering: How much does bad weather really affect our holiday plans? Good Question.

“Locally, not so much,” WCCO-TV Chief Meteorologist Chris Shaffer said.

Of the 43 million people travelling for Thanksgiving, AAA says 90 percent will drive and about 7 percent will fly.

“Over the last 25 years, we’ve only had a trace of snow in four of the Thanksgivings,” said Shaffer. “We’ve been pretty dry.”

The last time the Twin Cities saw significant snow was 1993 when it snowed four inches.

Many of the headlines call the day before Thanksgiving “the busiest travel day of the year,” but if you look at every one – car, train and plane travelers – Thursday is actually busier.

In 2003, the U.S. Department of Transportation looked at travel on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of Thanksgiving week. Of those travelers, 19 percent travelled on Tuesday, 33 percent on Wednesday and 47 percent on Thursday. About half of people just travel for the day.

“I think people are more sensitive to it because there’s a storm that’s going to shut down a lot of airports or certainly cause delays on the east coast,” Shaffer said when asked about the news reports for this year.

Travel website Orbitz says Thanksgiving week doesn’t crack the top five for plane travel, but the day before Thanksgiving is their busiest day of the year. This Wednesday is when most of the snow, sleet and rain is expected to hit east of the Mississippi.

And, for those people who are flying to the East Coast for this holiday season, flight tracking website, FlightAware has created a “Misery Map” to share the airports with the biggest delays.

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