NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – With 40 million Americans hitting the road for the 4th of July holiday get-away, and gas prices up on average 62 cents per gallon, travelers were warned to expect the worst on what AAA is calling “Terrible Tuesday.”
The roads were a mess Tuesday afternoon as many people left home for their getaway. Out-of-towners, like the Chlebouns of Chicago, were just glad to be passing through.
“I’ll never complain about traffic again now that we’ve driven through New York City,” said Bob Chleboun.
Of the 47 million Americans expected to travel for the holiday, 85 percent of them will be driving. Travelers on the way down the Jersey Shore told CBS2 the traffic was better than expected.
The weather? Not so much. Heavy rain and heat pounded areas closer to New York City.
“One of my friends say it was thundering and lightening on Staten Island so I’m happy to be here,” Timmy Macintosh said.
The sky started falling Tuesday afternoon and continued on and off through the evening rush. Not everyone packed for the deluge.
“Tons of clothes, shorts, no rain gear at all,” Suffolk County resident Matthew Meyers said.
The storm became dangerous in River Edge when lightning struck a utility pole and caused a power line to catch fire, officials told CBS2. It was hard to escape the heat in Livingston, where there freezers at a Shop Rite appeared to fail. Caution tape kept shoppers away from defrosting food.
Getting to their destination may have cost drivers more this year, as well.
For example, in New Jersey, while the average price of gas is $2.87 per gallon, that’s 14 cents cheaper than Memorial Day.
But nationally, gas prices are up about 62 cents more per gallon than this time last year – the most expensive 4th of July price in four years.
“When we see crude prices go up we generally see gas prices go up too, especially right now, even with OPEC’s potential decision to increase their production, it may not be enough to offset the supply levels not keeping pace with demand,” said AAA Spokesperson Jeanette Casselano.
And be prepared – experts say the prices we’re seeing now will likely keep rising.