Not only will the Treasure Valley receive significant snowfall Wednesday, that snow is likely to stay throughout the holiday weekend, National Weather Service meteorologist Valerie Mills said Tuesday evening.
Although Tuesday's high was 46 degrees, three degrees higher than normal, temperatures are expected to dip to 36 degrees Wednesday, then take a dive, she said.
High temperatures below freezing are forecast Thursday through Monday, she said, with Saturday boasting the lowest expected high -- 26 degrees. Winds of 10 to 20 mph will intensify the chill Wednesday.
“Welcome to winter, and happy Thanksgiving,” Mills said.
Tuesday evening's rain is expected to turn to a rain-snow mix overnight, then snow after sunrise, she said. The forecast calls for an inch or 2 of snow in Boise Wednesday, she said. In Mountain Home, the expected snowfall is 3 to 4 inches. Chances of snow will decrease on Thanksgiving Day.
Folks considering a trip to or through the Magic Valley might be well advised to wait until Thursday afternoon, Mills said, noting that the area has a Winter Storm Warning for Wednesday and Wednesday night with an anticipated accumulation of 3 to 7 inches.
Nearly 47 million Americans are expected to travel more than 50 miles from home over the Thanksgiving holiday — 300,000 more than a year ago, according to the American Automobile Association. The prediction is based on economic forecasting and research by Colorado-based IHS Global Insight.
Nearly 42 million people are expected to drive to their destinations and back between Wednesday and Sunday, AAA said. About 234,000 Idahoans are predicted to travel for the holiday, with 202,000 going by car, said Dave Carlson, spokesman for AAA Idaho.
Those going by car will find gas prices 94 cents lower than a year ago. The average price for regular gas in Idaho is $2.20 a gallon, compared to $3.14 last Thanksgiving. Nationally, the average price is $2.15, down from $2.89 a year ago. Those are the lowest Thanksgiving gas prices since 2008, Carlson said.
Road condition information can be found online at 511.idaho.gov or by dialing 511 on your phone. A smartphone app is also available by going to the website.
AAA and the National Weather Service encourage motorists to ensure their cars have been winterized — checking anti-freeze levels, battery condition, tire pressure, tread and traction. They also recommend keeping the gas tank at least half full and carrying an emergency car kit with food and water, a shover, ice scraper, flashlight, matches, jumper cables and a blanket and extra clothing.
AAA expects to respond to 360,000 calls for roadside assistance between Wednesday and Sunday. The most common calls are for problems involving batteries, tires and drivers getting locked out of their vehicles.