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For grateful Thanksgiving travelers, a happy refrain: it could have been worse

On Thanksgiving eve, bad weather dodged most airports, while air travelers rolled with the TSA searches. On the roads, congestion prevailed, but the most dire predictions weren't realized.

By Ron SchererStaff writer / November 24, 2010

Travelers wait in line for security check at Los Angeles International Airport Wednesday, one of the busiest travel days of the year.

Jae C. Hong/AP

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New York

Travelers on Thanksgiving eve have something to be grateful for: It could have been worse.

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Weather forecasters had expected ice and snow in Chicago and Denver, both important airline hubs. Instead, the storms skirted both cities, says Henry Margusity, senior meteorologist for AccuWeather.com.

“Both cities are very lucky,” says Mr. Margusity who says Thanksgiving Day travelers should not have major weather delays either. “I think the storms will be skirting everything except Detroit, where rain will be turning into snow,” he says.

In fact, on Wednesday afternoon it appeared that there were few delays at the nation’s airports, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s web site on air traffic delays. The only two backups were sixteen minutes at LaGuardia and 37 minutes at Newark, both because of wind issues. Late in the day, snow and ice shut down the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.

According to wire reports, there were also no significant delays at the airports because of the Transportation Security Administration’s new screening procedures. Instead, most travelers seemed resigned at the level of personal searches.

For those on the road, there were delays, which are normal. According to AAA, the motorists club, some 39.7 million people were expected to hit the road, up 12 percent from last year.

“It’s one of the heaviest traffic days,” says Troy Green, a AAA spokesman in Washington. From his office, he could see a “nice backup” on 14th Street.

But for many travelers, again, it could have been worse. For example, the Delaware Department of Transportation had warned many drivers to expect delays on I-95 because of construction. “They are talking about potentially a twenty-mile backup,” says Mr. Green. “It’s rare for DOT to tell folks to avoid an area.”

However, as of 5 p.m., many drivers must have paid heed, since, according to Traffic.com, most of I-95 in Delaware was reported to be moving smoothly. There was only one small stretch backed up.

Drivers in the New York area were not so fortunate. According to Traffic.com, there were heavy delays heading north on I-95 from the George Washington Bridge through Connecticut. And, yes, there was bumper-to-bumper traffic at the approaches to the Holland Tunnel. But, yet again, it could always have been worse: The Lincoln Tunnel was reported to have only moderate delays, according to the service.

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