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Road warriors: Brace yourselves for lots of Thanksgiving traffic

The highest number of Thanksgiving travelers since 2007


Editor's note: This story was originally published on November 16. It has been updated throughout to reflect the latest information.

Thanksgiving travel is always a slog, and this year, it’s looking to be especially grueling. The Automobile Club of Southern California projects the highest number of Turkey Day travelers in nearly a decade. It says 3.87 million people are headed out of town this year, 3.6 percent more than in 2016.

This Thanksgiving will be the busiest one locally for travel since 2007, says AAA. Roads are likely to get nasty because the vast majority of travelers, 86 percent, or 3.3 million people, are expected to drive. That’s an increase of 3.5 percent compared to last year, when a flood of travelers turned the 405 into a ribbon of trapped cars.

If you are already committed to driving, AAA has teamed up with traffic data firm INRIX to predict the worst times for traffic: early evenings on Tuesday and Wednesday, “as commuters mix with holiday travelers.”

INRIX expects congestion to hit peak awful between 3:15 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Tuesday, when drivers could see their travel times double. The worst “traffic hotspot” is expected to be the 5 Freeway in La Mirada, around Valley View Avenue.

Pay extra-close attention to the AAA projections if you’re heading to San Francisco, San Diego, Anaheim, the Grand Canyon, or Santa Barbara—the most popular destinations for Southern Californians.

Those who are flying can expect airports to be more crowded than last year, too. AAA forecasts a larger bump in the number of fliers. 429,000 SoCal residents are expected to do their Thanksgiving travel by air, an increase of 5.4 percent over the 2016 holiday.

The airport’s expected to be the nation’s second busiest this Thanksgiving, the Los Angeles Times reports. Not good news for anyone flying out of LAX.