San Diegans can be thankful for a rare-for-the-season Santa Ana condition that is expected to whip into the area today, just in time for the busiest travel day of the year.
Blue skies, warmer-than-usual temperatures and gusty winds are expected in San Diego over the next few days, said Mike Smith of WeatherData, which provides forecasts for The Times.
"It looks like Thanksgiving is going to be a very, very nice day," Smith said.
Officials at Lindbergh Field, Santa Fe Depot and the Greyhound bus station were gearing up for the annual onslaught of holiday travelers. Crowds are expected to be from 40% to 60% larger than an average day, they said.
"The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is typically the busiest day of the year here, and we don't expect this year will be any exception," Lindbergh Field supervisor Fred Davis said. "On an ordinary day, we average 25,000 (travelers), but a good estimate for (today) is 35,000 or so."
Those going to the airport are urged to arrive early and to be aware that a lot of other people--and their cars--will also be there, according to Davis.
"For every person flying in or out, we usually anticipate two more people sending them off and meeting them," he said. "Needless to say, this makes for a lot of people trying to come and go from a limited amount of space."
Amtrak officials also urged those traveling by train to arrive at the Santa Fe Depot early, especially since seating on many of the trains leaving San Diego is on a first-come, first-served basis.
"There are a lot of people who do the short trip from San Diego to Los Angeles the day before Thanksgiving, and all of those trains operate on an unreserved basis," said an Amtrak spokeswoman in Washington. "People should plan to get to the station earlier than they would on a normal day and expect the trains to be running 15 to 20 minutes behind schedule, on average."
Officials at the downtown Greyhound bus station expected a 60% increase in travelers today, according to spokesman Ricardo Castro.
"We do get a lot of people for the short hauls, but the long hauls are also expected to be really crowded," Castro said.
San Diego's highways will not be immune to the crush of holiday travelers, but more traffic snarls are expected Thursday than today, according to California Highway Patrol officials.
"We're not expecting the really terrible traffic tie-ups until Thursday morning," a CHP spokeswoman said.
The expected Santa Ana condition over the next few days can be traced to a slowly building high-pressure system northeast of San Diego, according to Smith.
"Temperatures should be three or four degrees above normal through the holiday weekend," Smith said. "Some gusty winds, up to 25 miles an hour in some areas, will develop, but skies should be clear and the weather beautiful for the holiday."