Storms could dampen holiday travel in Bay Area

Car mechanic Bill Paterson says he can count on 12-hour work days at his Santa Rosa auto shop this week to help ready his customers to join the sea of humanity hitting the highways for the Thanksgiving holiday.

His Petaluma Hill Road lot was full with vehicles dropped off early Monday morning, and the phone kept ringing with calls from more folks hoping for last-minute oil changes and the like.

Each time, it's the same thing: "We need it by Wednesday," the Sebastopol resident and owner of Bill's Automotive owner said.

True to form, Thanksgiving Eve is forecast to be the busiest travel day of the year again this time around, with 5.4 million Californians expected to leave home to spend the holiday with family and friends elsewhere, up 0.6 percent from last year, according to the American Automobile Association, or AAA.

The large majority of them, 4.7 million, will travel by motor vehicle, averaging 887 miles over the four-day weekend, AAA said.

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