Nearly 1.5 million Carolinas residents plan to take advantage of good weather and decreasing gasoline prices to travel on the Labor Day weekend, AAA Carolinas officials say.
For many, trips to the Carolinas beaches or mountains will be a final summer excursion, and officials say the number of people expected to travel 50 or more miles for Labor Day is up nearly 1.5 percent from a year ago.
“The continued downward trend in gas prices is good news for motorists, and it’s one of the big reasons travelers are heading out,” said David Parsons, CEO and president of AAA Carolinas.
AAA Carolinas said nearly 120,000 people will fly this weekend, but the other 1 million-plus travelers will travel by car.
Analysts had expected gas prices to rise during the summer, due to unrest in the Middle East and the impact of any hurricanes affecting oil refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Unrest in the Middle East is not expected to push gas prices higher,” Parsons said. And the gulf has remained free of hurricanes so far this season.
Transportation departments in both Carolinas say they will suspend most construction projects from Friday until Tuesday morning. But motorists are reminded to slow down in construction zones.
Parking spaces have been at a premium all summer at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and it will be no different this weekend. For example, three of four long-term lots were full Wednesday afternoon. Check availability at parking.charlotteairport.com.
North Carolina’s average per-gallon price is $3.34, down 22 cents from the July 4 holiday and 11 cents lower than last Labor Day. South Carolina has the cheapest gas in the country, the AAA said – $3.14 a gallon.
A “Booze It & Lose It” campaign is under way in North Carolina, which means motorists might encounter DWI checkpoints. Highway patrols in both states said they will increase patrols Thursday night through Monday night.
After experiencing relatively cool weather all week, including a near-record low of 57 degrees Wednesday in Charlotte, it will feel more like summer this weekend. High temperatures are expected to be in the low 90s through Monday, with temperatures slightly above average at the beaches and in the mountains.
Dry weather is forecast through Saturday, with a chance of afternoon and evening thunderstorms developing Sunday and Monday.
There’s high school football Friday night and college football Saturday, and Carowinds is open until 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 8 p.m. Monday. The Charlotte Knights’ final two home games of the season are Sunday evening and Monday afternoon.
The U.S. National Whitewater Center hosts a Labor Day festival Sunday, ending with fireworks. And Charlotte’s official Labor Day Parade is at 11 a.m. Monday in uptown.
The Matthews Alive festival is from Friday through Monday, with the parade at 10:30 a.m. Saturday.