Pack your patience for Memorial Day weekend travel

May 26, 2023, 10:37 AM | Updated: 11:02 am

The Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) strongly suggests traveling during non-peak times during the holiday weekend. (Photo from KIRO 7)


AAA estimates over 42 million people will travel during the upcoming Memorial Day weekend – up about 7% from last year. In Washington state, the estimate is a bit over 1 million residents who plan to travel on the road over the holiday weekend. Nationwide, car travel will rise about 6%, close to pre-pandemic levels.

Over 85% of all travel will involve a car. Another 8% is expected to be through the air, according to the AAA.

How hot, dry will it get? A preview of the Seattle summer weather

Fortunately, gas prices have stabilized heading into the holiday weekend. The average price of a gallon of regular gas across the nation is around $3.55, about 50 cents a gallon below a year ago. In the western United States, though, the price of gas remains higher than the national average. Washington is currently at about $4,60 per gallon. California sits just above $4.80 per gallon, Oregon $4.20, Idaho $3.75, and British Columbia $5.50 per gallon (converted from liters).

Here are some holiday travel tips heading into the weekend.


Memorial Day weekend has the stigma that it always rains. So far this century, there have been nine years with no rain at all (including last year and seven more years where it rained just one day during the 3-day weekend. This year looks to have a good chance at another fully dry holiday weekend.

In western Washington, including the North Sound, the weekend will have a mix of clouds and sun with highs right around the average in the upper 60s. The only threat of any light showers is expected Saturday, and that threat is minimal. Lows will be around 50 degrees.

East of the Cascades, the weather will offer a better chance of showers and afternoon/evening thunderstorms, mainly on Saturday. Highs will range from the mid-70s to mid-80s, with lows dropping into the upper 40s and 50s.

If heading into the Cascades or Olympics for the weekend, expect a chance of showers, mainly Saturday, with pass temperatures in the 50s to mid-60s.

On the road

The Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) strongly suggests traveling during non-peak times during the holiday weekend.

If you are planning on heading anywhere north toward the Canadian border, east of the Cascades, south toward Portland, or taking a ferry going west, Friday from about midday through about sunset is the busiest and slowest drive time period. WSDOT suggests hitting the road before 10 a.m. Friday. On Saturday expect another peak in traffic volumes from late morning through mid-afternoon.

Returning from the holiday weekend will also be a chore. The peak times start late in the morning on Memorial Day and continue through about sundown. Again, WSDOT suggests leaving Sunday, early Monday morning, or waiting until later in the night or even until Tuesday.

For the details of expected peak travel times heading north, south, or east, as well as the return from your destination, WSDOT has a Memorial Day weekend travel times webpage.

The Washington State Ferries simply says to expect long terminal wait times Friday heading westbound and again on both Sunday and Monday for eastbound sailings.

Wherever you go this holiday weekend, drive safely and pack your patience. Your nerves will feel better by leaving way early or way late to avoid those peak travel periods. And on Memorial Day, remember and honor those who paid the ultimate price for our country and freedom.

Follow Ted Buehner, the KIRO FM news meteorologist on Twitter 

Local News

lakewood helicopter...

KIRO 7 News Staff

Man posing as police officer fires gun at pair of military helicopters in Lakewood

A Pierce County man is facing charges after firing a stolen gun at military helicopters in Lakewood, all while posing as a police officer.

20 hours ago

seattle shooting Garfield suspects...

L.B. Gilbert

12-year-old escapes home, steals cell phone before same-day arrest

A 12-year-old girl has been charged with second-degree robbery and second-degree escape after stealing a cell phone at Round1 Bowling.

20 hours ago

molly moon's chop...

Sam Campbell

Molly Moon’s suing City of Seattle over losses from CHOP

Local ice cream maker Molly Moon's is suing the City of Seattle for losses it claims came from CHOP in the summer of 2020.

20 hours ago

carbon auction...

Frank Sumrall

WA’s second carbon auction nets $500M, gas prices could jump

Washington held its second carbon emission auction to allow gas and oil companies to bid for a limited amount of carbon emission allowances.

20 hours ago

i-90 bridge repair...

Micki Gamez

Eastside drivers will face traffic delays on I-90 during bridge repair

WSDOT plans to shut down multiple lanes east of Issaquah going westbound on I-90 for a bridge repair near the High Point Way interchange.

20 hours ago

summer wildfires...

Frank Sumrall

Sen. Cantwell: WA will be ‘epicenter of severe wildfires’ in summer

Sen. Maria Cantwell said Washington "will be the epicenter of severe regional wildfires [this summer]" and believes we need to be prepared.

20 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Men's Health Month...

Men’s Health Month: Why It’s Important to Speak About Your Health

June is Men’s Health Month, with the goal to raise awareness about men’s health and to encourage men to speak about their health.

Internet Washington...

Major Internet Upgrade and Expansion Planned This Year in Washington State

Comcast is investing $280 million this year to offer multi-gigabit Internet speeds to more than four million locations.

Compassion International...

Brock Huard and Friends Rally Around The Fight for First Campaign

Professional athletes are teaming up to prevent infant mortality and empower women at risk in communities facing severe poverty.

Pack your patience for Memorial Day weekend travel