Many travelers will stay close to home

Anne Johnston will be one of the millions of Georgians who stay home this holiday weekend.

But Ms. Johnston, a senior consultant for Morris Travel in Augusta, can't say the same for her customers.

"I have more people traveling this week than any other typical week, and most are going on short cruises," said Ms. Johnston, who has been booking vacations for 22 years. "We've also had a lot of requests for Hilton Head and Charleston, so, of course, they will be driving."

About 40.4 million people are expected to leave home this Independence Day weekend, according to a recent survey by AAA. The Southeast will lead the nation in the number of travelers, followed by the West.

Overall, however, the number of people traveling is down by 1.3 percent compared with 2007, when gas was more than a dollar cheaper.

Ms. Johnston said that is reflected in many of her patrons' travel choices.

"It pretty much seems to me that people are staying close to home -- the Southeast," she said.

With the national average of a gallon of unleaded gas at $4.09, fuel prices remain a problem for many would-be travelers. As of Wednesday, prices in the Augusta and Aiken areas averaged $3.94, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Meanwhile, area police will bring in additional staff to watch for drunken drivers this weekend, as the holiday falls on the same day as the downtown First Friday celebration. Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Scott Gay said 35 patrols will be added, using deputies who are normally off-duty.

"We are going to be focusing on the impaired drivers -- the reckless drivers," Lt. Gay said.

Temperatures should be in the mid-90s and lows in the upper 60s. There will be a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms Friday, increasing to 30 percent on Saturday and 40 percent on Sunday.

"It's just about right on normal," said meteorologist Tim Hawks, of the National Weather Service in west Columbia, S.C.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.

GAS PRICES

All prices are for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline as of Wednesday.

Georgia

Atlanta: $4.02

Augusta: $3.94

Macon: $3.99

Savannah: $4.00


South Carolina

Columbia: $3.88

Charleston: $3.89

Aiken: $3.94

Greenville: $3.83

Myrtle Beach: $3.94


Weather

Friday to Sunday: Mostly sunny with a chance of showers or thunderstorms each day. Highs in the mid-90s and lows in the upper 60s.

Source: AAA, National Weather Service


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