Record holiday road travel projected, but storms could complicate plans

With low gas prices and a record high number of road travelers expected across the U.S. this weekend, business could be brisk along Missouri’s highways and interstates. It remains to be seen, however, if wet weather will take a toll on Independence Day travels.

The national average gas price last week was $2.35 per gallon, according to St. Louis Fed data. That marks the lowest price for that time in at least a decade. Over the last 10 years, the next-lowest average for the same period was $2.67 per gallon in 2009.

AAA estimates that gas prices as of June 20 were 46 cents per gallon lower than they were at the same time last year. Slumping gas prices have saved U.S. drivers an estimated $20 billion at the pump so far this year compared to the same period last year, according to AAA.

The number of travelers projected this year would be 10.7 percent higher than the average number seen over the last 15 years, the Associated Press reports.

Ronald Leone, executive director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, said he anticipated an increase in travel — and a corresponding increase in sales at stores across the state.

“Holidays are always good for convenience stores,” he said. “Everybody is anticipating that traveling will be near historic high for the Fourth of July weekend.

“With gas prices as low as they are, we are anticipating robust sales not only at the pump but also inside the stores.”

However, expected heavy rains throughout the weekend may pose challenges to Midwesterners who have travel plans.

Meteorologist Brian Donegan at forecast heavy rain for the weekend. The nation’s heartland, especially parts of Kansas, Missouri and southern Illinois, is of greatest concern for stormy weather. There’s also a threat of flooding.

Donegan warned travelers about possible high waters along Interstate 70 between Denver and Kansas City, or from St. Louis to Indianapolis over the three-day weekend. People planning for outdoor activities should look for severe weather this weekend, warned.

Leone said he wasn’t sure how much the severe weather would affect sales but hoped it wouldn’t dampen holiday enthusiasm.

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