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WSDOT says drivers should prepare for holiday travel backups

SNOQUALMIE PASS, Wash. – Even though Thanksgiving is several days away, the Washington State Department of Transportation is urging people to prepare travel plans now to make sure you aren’t stuck in big time backups.

No matter if you’re going up and down I-5 or crossing the mountain passes, WSDOT says, there are several things everyone should travel with to make sure the trip to grandma’s house isn’t spoiled.

On Friday, some families told Q13 News they planned to make holiday trips early this year, including a grandmother who picked her grandchildren up on Friday and drove them to the Tri-Cities prior to the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Also this year, snow and slush is already on the passes and drivers would have to contend with that if they leave early to get ahead of the rush.

Snow plows were spotted working to clear the mountain highways on the Friday before Thanksgiving Day.

“The fact that we’ve got snow this early, that’s going to put an extra impact on the roads as well,” Q13 News This Morning’s traffic master Adam Gehrke.

He says this season’s travelers might be changing up their regular travel days ahead of the holiday weekend.

“We see data coming from Inrix, Google, WSDOT,” said Gehrke. “I’ve been doing this for a while, so I’ve been able to look at all of that information and some people are saying the commute begins earlier. Say, this weekend being a big time to be out on the roads.”

“The thing about taking the passes is you really never know what you’re getting into,” said WSDOT’s Nicole Daniels. “The snow could be really heavy on U.S. 2 and not so heavy on I-90. So that’s the big thing, be prepared.”

That’s why WSDOT says everyone traveling for the holidays should prepare for whatever pops up, no matter where their destination.

“Always have your emergency car kit packed. Food, water, because you never really know. One crash could really jam up the freeway,” said Daniels.

Those traveling through Snoqualmie Pass should also be aware of changes in traffic patterns.

WSDOT says drivers should also consider carrying chains if you’re heading over the mountains; they might be required if the flakes really start to fall.