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Holiday travel begins across Southland

December 19, 2008 12:00:00 AM PST
Some Southern Californians are getting ready to travel for the holidays. However, weather developments and a rise in gas prices have others thinking twice.Gas prices are up for the first time since June. Prices in the Los Angeles area jumped about 1 1/2 cents overnight to an average of $1.75 per gallon. Nearly 5.3 million Californians will travel for the holidays, but that is a 1.9-percent decline from last year. Four-point-five million of those travelers will drive, which is a decrease of 1.5 percent.

The American Automobile Association estimates 643,000 people will choose to fly this holiday. That may seem like a lot, but that's actually a drop of almost 7 percent.

Even if the crowds are down, the weather is keeping many stuck at the nation's airports waiting for flights.

A big pre-holiday storm has cut power to tens of thousands of customers and disrupted travel from Iowa to New England.

More than 200 flights have been canceled at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, and more than 650 at the three major New York City-area airports. Many remaining flights have been delayed for hours.

Snowfall has affected a large region, but the worst of the ice storm -- and resulting power outages -- is in a band across northern Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.

In the Northeast, hard hit by last week's ice storm, snowfall totals of up to 15 inches are forecast.

In New Hampshire, several thousand homes and businesses are still in the dark more than a week after last week's storm.

Eyewitness News Reporters Subha Ravindhran and Leslie Miller contributed to this report.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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