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Storms and traffic: What to expect for holiday travel around Philly

A rundown of all the issues you may come across

Courtesy of Sean Pavone/

This holiday season is typically the biggest travel period in the Philly area, and it doesn’t look like that’s changing this year, despite reports of a major storm whipping through the region this weekend.

Between today and January 1, the PA Turnpike Commission (PTC) estimates 6.3 million will travel the turnpike, which runs the length of the state, according to a statement from the PTC. In the Philly region, the turnpike includes I-276 north of Philly and I-95 near Bristol.

Most of that travel is spread out over the course of next week, but the PTC expects 675,000 people will hit the road today and tomorrow. Comparatively, they expect Saturday, December 29, to be the least traveled day, with about 350,000 vehicles taking to the road.

In anticipation of increased travel, the state plans to pause all construction on the turnpike starting 5 a.m. tomorrow and continuing through January 1. They also plan to increase trooper presence on the turnpike, according to the statement.

But more cars on the road aren’t the only thing Philly-area drivers will have to contend with as they set out for the holidays; a storm is passing through eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey this week, bringing high winds, flooding, and rain, according to the Mid-Atlantic AAA.

A flood watch goes into effect for the Philly area, and parts of New Jersey and Delaware at 7 p.m. tonight and lasts through Friday night, according to the National Weather Service (NWS). They predict rainfall around 1.5 to 2 inches.

“Slow down, do not drive through standing water, and alter your travel plans if necessary. Postponing holiday travel plans could be the safest option,” wrote Jana Tidwell of AAA in a statement on the flooding.

Anyone sticking around Philly will likely have an easier time with their travel, but should watch out for modified holiday hours on SEPTA. On the 24th and the 26th through the 28th of December, SEPTA will have modified hours for the holiday week. On Christmas Day and New Years Day, trains, buses and trolleys will run on a Sunday schedule.