By CAROLINE MURRAY
The number of folks traveling this Memorial Day weekend is up by 1.5 percent compared to last year.
AAA Northway is forecasting 36.1 million people will either fly, drive, or catch a train, and travel more than 50 miles or more from home this year.
In New York alone, 2.2 million people will travel the same distance, which is up 0.6 percent from one year ago.
"There are a couple things going on ... the economy continues to slowly improve, and when that happens, it tends to spur travel," AAA Northway spokesman Eric Stigberg said. "Another reason is the winter was quite harsh this year, and I think people are anxious to get a start of the summer season."
People skipping out on planes or trains and taking their automobiles may be in for some heavy traffic.
Stigberg said just under 2 million New Yorkers are driving to their destinations this weekend. On a national level, 31.4 million people will opt to hit the road, which is up 0.4 percent from last year.
Stigberg said drivers should be weary of rising gas prices when fueling up. Gas prices are up from a year ago, but said that won't deter people from their travels.
He said most likely people will swap a sit down dinner for a fast food meal, or a three star hotel for a two star to compensate for the increased cost of fuel.
Stigberg said people started traveling Thursday, or early Friday morning. On the reverse, Monday morning is another peak travel time for those heading home from their vacations.
He said, if possible, travelers should be flexible to either leave a day early or late in order to avoid bumper to bumper traffic.
"It is a big camping weekend, so I expect New York State campgrounds to be very busy. Another destination is the beach," Stigberg said. "People are ready for that sunshine."
National Weather Service in Albany is forecasting sun for the latter half of the weekend.
Meteorologist Tom Wsula said we are expecting some inclement weather in the Mohawk Valley Region Saturday, but Sunday and Monday should be mostly sunshine.
Wsula said they are predicting scattered showers throughout the day, and possible thunderstorms Saturday. Temperatures are expected to reach the upper 60's or lower 70's for the eastern and central parts of the Mohawk Valley.
Wsula said Sunday, they foresee partly sunny conditions with temperatures reaching up to 80 degrees.
And for Memorial Day itself, veterans will be pleased to experience sunshine and warm temperatures to inaugurate the day's festivities.
"The most unsettling portion of the holiday weekend is the front part, but Sunday and Monday are looking pretty good at this point," Wsula said.
Montgomery County Undersheriff Peter Vroman said area residents should be aware their every day routes could be disrupted by Memorial Day services and parades.
He said there might be additional pedestrians on the road, and people should remain vigilant while driving on Memorial Day.
Additionally, Vroman said the Montgomery County sheriff's department will be adding extra patrols on the road.
"This weekend kicks off the start of the summer traveling season," Vroman said. "I expect the sheriff patrols to be out making sure to be safe."
On top of that, Stigberg said people should be careful about drowsy-driving this weekend. He said the hustle and bustle of the holiday tends to make travelers tired.
"It can be as dangerous as driving while intoxicated, so certainly make sure you are well rested before hitting the roads," Stigberg said.