Thanksgiving Recap: Mom gets her way

There’s one mother who always gets her way. A mother that doesn’t seem to care about anyone’s plans, but her own. Yes, that’s her: Mother Nature.

And that was pretty evident over Thanksgiving weekend, when WSDOT’s traffic data shows 33 percent fewer drivers traveled over Snoqualmie Pass and 45 percent fewer traveled over Stevens Pass compared to the mild 2009 weather.

And those pre-Thanksgiving weather conditions, and lower travel numbers, weren’t just in the mountains. They also showed up in other places. On I-5 near the U.S./Canadian Border, there was a slight decrease (less than one percent) and through the Tacoma/Olympia area, there was a six percent decrease from 2009.

WSDOT tracks holiday travel in locations where travel increases significantly on long weekends. With its five-day break, Thanksgiving tends to see the most highway travelers of the year.

(Side note: let us know in the comment about your Thanksgiving route over the river and through the woods. We have the black and white data, but we're always looking for color commentary.)

In general, lower elevation areas saw decreased travel for the beginning days of the 2010 holiday weekend, and increased travel towards the end. This pattern also tends to favor weather as the key indicator, as the winter storm lost steam Thursday.

In the mountains, travel was down all weekend – as the snow hit hard most of the weekend, even into Sunday.

I-90 Snoqualmie Pass
For Wednesday through Sunday, 126,500 vehicles traveled I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass. This was a decrease of 62,800 vehicles (33 percent) compared to 2009.

  • 11,400 fewer (25 percent) traveled Wednesday
  • 8,700 fewer (36 percent) traveled Thursday
  • 16,600 fewer (50 percent) traveled Friday
  • 14,200 fewer (38 percent) traveled Saturday
  • 11,900 fewer (24 percent) traveled on Sunday

US 2, Stevens Pass
For Wednesday through Sunday 17,100 vehicles traveled US 2 over Stevens Pass. This was a decrease of 14,200 vehicles (or 45 percent) compared to 2009.

  • 2,100 fewer (38 percent) traveled Wednesday
  • 1,500 fewer (41 percent) traveled Thursday
  • 3,400 fewer (48 percent) traveled Friday
  • 3,900 fewer (52 percent) traveled Saturday
  • 3,200 fewer (44 percent) traveled Sunday

I-5, Bellingham to Canadian border
For Wednesday through Sunday, 139,800 vehicles traveled I-5 between Bellingham and the Canadian border. This was a decrease of 200 vehicles (less than one percent) compared to 2009.

  • 607 fewer (2 percent) traveled Wednesday
  • 5,000 fewer (23 percent) traveled Thursday
  • 600 fewer (2 percent) traveled Friday
  • 2,900 more (10 percent) traveled Saturday
  • 3,100 more (11 percent) traveled Sunday

I-5, Olympia to Tacoma
For Wednesday through Sunday, 522,000 vehicles traveled I-5 between Olympia and Tacoma. This was a decrease of 35,600 vehicles (6 percent) compared to 2009.

  • 24,500 fewer (18 percent) traveled Wednesday
  • 4,800 fewer (5 percent) traveled Thursday
  • 7,900 fewer (7 percent) traveled Friday
  • 700 more (1 percent) traveled Saturday
  • 1000 more (1 percent) traveled Sunday