Average Thanksgiving gas prices

MANKATO — Those planning a Thanksgiving week road trip should expect the highest gas prices in nine years but possibly a reduction in traffic on the highways. And those highways should be clear of snow and ice.

The fuel-price website Gas Buddy is projecting a national average price of $3.35 on Thanksgiving, the highest since it was 9 cents pricier in 2012. In Mankato, average gas prices are more than a dollar higher than a year ago and 74 cents above the prices last November.

A survey by the firm found that 32% of respondents were planning to travel this Thanksgiving, down from 65% in pre-pandemic 2019. A Gas Buddy analyst attributed that primarily to the high gas prices, with the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in many parts of the country also prompting some to stay home.

For those who are traveling, there’s not much incentive to plan ahead before filling up the tank. From Mankato to Rochester to Willmar to St. Cloud to Sioux Falls, average gas prices varied by less than a dime a gallon Saturday afternoon.

Unless forecasts change in the next few days, travelers won’t have to obsess about driving conditions the way they often do when hitting the road for a family Thanksgiving gathering. There’s no precipitation in the National Weather Service forecast, which extends through Saturday, for the Mankato area. But that’s also true for those with more distant destinations in the upper Midwest.

Dry weather is predicted for the entire week in Duluth, Grand Rapids, Fargo, Sioux Falls, Des Moines, Winona and Eau Claire.

If family is a plane ride away, it will be prudent to arrive at the airport at least two hours in advance of a domestic flight, according to the Metropolitan Airports Commission, which operates the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Nearly 32,000 passengers are expected to be screened at MSP on Wednesday and more than 30,000 are anticipated to be making return flights on Sunday, Nov. 28. That doesn’t count passengers at the airport making connecting flights after clearing security at other airports.

The numbers are only about 70% of pre-pandemic levels, although they’re nearly double what was seen a year ago, according to the commission.

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