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Tim Wiederaenders: Summer is here, just not the weather — yet

May 26, 2019

Nearly 43 million Americans have started their summers with a Memorial Day weekend getaway this year, AAA News reports.

But will the weather cooperate?

This long holiday weekend, marking the unofficial start of the summer vacation season, will see the second-highest travel volume on record since AAA began tracking holiday travel numbers dating back to 2000 – trailing only the bar set in 2005.

Overall, an additional 1.5 million more people will take to the nation’s roads, rails and runways compared with last year, a 3.6% increase.

The surprise appears to be that despite a rising national gas price average, which is inching closer to the $3 per gallon mark (Arizona’s current average is $3.143, go figure!), the vast majority of holiday travelers will drive to their destinations. A caveat for them is that travel delays on major roads could be more than three times longer than normal during evening commutes, said INRIX, a global transportation analytics company.

“Americans are eagerly anticipating the start of summer, and expensive gas prices won’t keep them home,” said Paula Twidale, vice president for AAA Travel. “Consumer spending remains strong, helped by solid job and income growth.”

The bad news is definitely the weather, which continues to look like late winter at times. Temperatures for the month of May have been down, and precipitation levels are up – for a month that is regularly one of the driest, behind only June.

The ultimate cause, at least in part, are the El Niño conditions in the Pacific – the periodic warming of sea surface temperatures across the equator.

It goes like this: weak El Niño, stronger weather systems in the Southwest.

Last year, when the weather systems tracked farther north, that was due to La Niña (a cooling at the equator).

If ever you doubted climate change, just look to the equator, folks.

Enjoy your time this weekend. If not outside because of wind and rain, hunker down in front of the fireplace or creating in your workshop (what I hope to do!).

Leave the travel to the amateurs.

Tim Wiederaenders is an editor at the Prescott Daily Courier and a former resident of Lake Havasu City.