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Thanksgiving travelers likely to see mild weather, lower gas prices

The average gallon of regular gas in North Dakota cost $2.63, down almost 10 cents from last week and down 25 cents from a month ago, according to AAA. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service

GRAND FORKS - Thanksgiving traffic volumes will be the highest in more than a dozen years, and traveling in North Dakota and Minnesota should present few challenges for those taking to the road to celebrate the holiday.

The National Weather Service in Grand Forks is calling for a mild week with mostly cloudy skies for the week. There is a chance of isolated snow Friday night into Saturday, according to meteorologists.

Wednesday will be the coldest day for the Grand Forks region, with a high of 24 degree and a low of 17. After that, high temperatures likely will reach above freezing and stay in the mid-30s, according to the forecast, and Fargo could hit a high of 40 degrees.

The average high temperature for Nov. 22 in Grand Forks is 31 degrees, with an average low of 13, the weather service said.

Weather service meteorologists in Bismarck also are calling for a mild week for western North Dakota, with sunny skies and highs between the mid-20s and low 50s. There is a possibility for rain and snow Friday in northwest North Dakota, the weather service said.

Toward the Twin Cities, expect partly sunny skies with a chance for rain and snow on Friday, the weather service said. Wednesday should have a high close to 30 degrees, while Thanksgiving and Friday will warm up to 40 degrees or higher, the forecast said.

Falling pump price

An estimated 54.3 million Americans are projected to travel at least 50 miles from home for Thanksgiving, according to AAA. That’s a 4.8 percent increase from last year and the highest travel volume since 2005, AAA said.

“A strong economy and labor market are generating higher wages and more disposable income,” North Dakota’s AAA spokesman Gene LaDoucer said in a statement. “As a result, more travelers will celebrate the holiday with a Thanksgiving getaway, building on a positive year for the travel industry.”

Most of the travelers will journey for Thanksgiving by automobile, AAA said, which estimated 48.5 million people will hit the road in a vehicle.

Gas prices should be easier on the wallet, at least compared to previous weeks. The average gallon of regular gas in North Dakota cost $2.63, down almost 10 cents from last week and down 25 cents from a month ago, according to AAA.

That’s likely due to a drop in oil prices over the last couple of months. Oil sold for about $75 per barrel in September, the highest since lat 2014. But the price of oil has, for the most part, been dropping since two months ago, with the New York Mercantile closing at $57.33 per gallon on Monday.

GasBuddy advised travelers to wait to fill up until this week as it predicted prices would continue to decline. However, gas prices are expected to be the highest in four years, even as they continue to drop, GasBuddy said Monday.

It’s possible prices could increase as Thanksgiving approaches, GasBuddy said. That would follow the trend of oil prices, which started to climb from the $55.34 per barrel price on Monday.

North Dakota’s average price would be close to the national average of $2.62 per gallon, AAA said. Grand Forks stations were selling gas for $2.60 per gallon on Monday. That was higher than Fargo and Jamestown, which had prices of $2.47 and $2.50, respectively, on the same day.

Other major cities across North Dakota sold gas at a slightly higher price as of Monday, according to AAA. Bismarck reported $2.64 per gallon, Devils Lake $2.65, Dickinson $2.67, Minot $2.70 and Williston $2.89.

Minnesota was below the national average Monday, reporting an average of $2.52 per gallon as of Monday, according to AAA

Minnesota’s Monday prices were about 10 cents lower than last week and 28 cents less than a month ago, but 2 cents more than a year ago, according to AAA.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers crime and education. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family raises registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as a city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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