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Rain to greet early travelers today

Rain showers have greeted early holiday travelers this week in Georgia, according to forecasts from the National Weather Service in Peachtree City. However, procrastinators can expect to see drier conditions on Christmas Eve.

Thursday’s forecast calls for showers and a possible afternoon thunderstorm, as temperatures climb into the low 70s. Rain chances are expected to increase, heading into the evening, when rainfall amounts could reach three quarters of an inch.

“By Friday, it looks like things should be winding down,” said Shirley Lamback, meteorologist with the National Weather Service. “We’re looking for highs to be in the 60s, [before] a cold front pushes through Friday night with lows around 39 degrees.”

Lamback anticipates drier travel conditions on Saturday, with rain chances no higher than 30 percent. The Christmas Eve forecast offers partly sunny skies with highs near 63 degrees, and lows around 41 degrees.

AAA Auto Club South projects that more than two million motorists will travel 50 miles or more from home this holiday season in Georgia.

With so many people taking to the roadways in potentially hazardous conditions, AAA officials are urging every motorist be extra cautious this holiday season.

“Whether you are driving in rain, or not, you should make sure you are paying as much attention to the road as possible,” said Jessica Brady, spokeswoman for AAA Auto Club South.

Brady provided tips for motorists as they head out on their holiday excursions.

Drivers should make sure that their windshield wipers are up to par, she said. If they are old or cracked, they may not remove rain water efficiently enough from the windshield to maintain good visibility on the road.

Brady said motorists should double check their headlights, hazard, tail, and break lights before leaving home, to ensure the lights are working at optimal visibility, particularly in the rain. She recommends motorists drive below the speed limit and keep a minimum of two car-links between themselves and the car ahead.

“Also, make sure your tires are properly inflated,” she said. “If they are over- or under-inflated, they may lose traction in the rain.”

Those celebrating Christmas Day on the road in Georgia likely will contend with the cold and rain. The National Weather Service forecasts a 50 percent chance of showers for the Southern Crescent region, with highs near 52 degrees on Sunday. Rain chances are expected to diminish into the evening hours.

State troopers will be out in force, ensuring motorists are obeying the rules of the road, according to Gordy Wright, spokesman for the Georgia State Patrol.

Wright said troopers will be looking for impaired drivers, during the 78-hour Christmas holiday period, beginning at 6 o’clock Friday evening, and ending at midnight Monday. He advises motorists to buckle up, plan carefully, and allow plenty of time to reach their destinations during the time.

“And by all means,” Wright added, “use a designated driver, if alcohol will be a part of your plans.”