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Winter storm complicates busy Thanksgiving travel day

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SAN DIEGO -- Rain and gusty winds were forecast for San Diego County on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

Moderate to heavy rain showers are expected beginning Wednesday afternoon and continuing through the evening, the National Weather Service said. Wind gusts are expected to reach 35 to 45 mph in the mountains.

The storm comes as many people hit the road to join family and friends for Thanksgiving. More than 55 million people will travel 50 miles or more away from home for the holiday this year, according to AAA.

“Strong economic fundamentals are motivating Americans to venture out this holiday in near-record numbers," said Paula Twidale with AAA Travel. "Consumer spending remains strong, thanks to increasing wages, disposable income and household wealth, and travel remains one of their top priorities for the holiday season.”

For those heading to or near Los Angeles, the worst time to travel will be Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Drivers can expect 3.5 times the traffic of a normal day with rush hour traffic, according to AAA.

Although the peak will be Wednesday, travelers should expect much heavier than normal congestion throughout the week.

The best time to drive this week in or near L.A., meanwhile, will be 2 a.m. Wednesday, according to Google. But if you cannot leave that early, traffic should subside by 6 a.m. Thursday.

Travelers will also contend with the rain.

“The only thing that’s going to keep you from crashing in the rain is slowing down,” California Highway Patrol Officer Jake Sanchez. Sanchez said the department will have additional patrols keeping an eye out for unsafe drivers.

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