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 

MyNorthwest News


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Pack your patience for Memorial Day weekend travel