Sarah Cohen has a plan for making the journey to her family’s big Thanksgiving get-together in Yarmouth as smooth as possible today – even as a storm bears down on the Northeast.

She, her husband, Adam, and their infant son are flying nonstop from Baltimore to Portland; little Ethan’s car seat will not be checked as luggage and, therefore, won’t be lost; and they should arrive at the security gate two-and-a-half hours before their scheduled departure.

Because things could go awry despite her precautions, Cohen will bring her most important travel asset: acceptance of the unexpected.

“I have learned, when something happens, you kind of have to laugh it off,” Cohen, a risk management director for a human resources firm, said Tuesday.

Other Thanksgiving travelers may do well to adopt Cohen’s attitude. Bad weather could further complicate people’s plans for one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

The forecast called for a storm to enter Maine early this morning and for snow in most of the state by daybreak, according to the National Weather Service. Portland and the midcoast can expect a total of 3 to 6 inches of snow, along with sleet and rain, until about 6 p.m. Inland areas including Fryeburg, Lewiston, Augusta and Bangor could get 8 to 12 inches, while Jackman, Eustis and the extreme north are likely to get 4 to 8 inches. The southernmost part of York County might get all rain, or perhaps a few snowflakes.

“Unfortunately, it does not look like a very good day to travel … not around Maine at least,” said Margaret Curtis, a weather service meteorologist in Gray.

The good news is that the weather should clear for Thanksgiving Day.

The number of trips originating in New England is expected to increase 3.8 percent this Thanksgiving season, according to an American Automobile Association forecast. An estimated 1.79 million people – 12 percent of the region’s population – will make trips of at least 50 miles from home. About 1.56 million of these trips will be by car, and most of the rest will be by air.

Gasoline prices aren’t expected to significantly affect travel, according to AAA. On Tuesday, the average price for unleaded gas was $3.42 per gallon, up from $3.03 a year ago, according to MaineGasPrices.com.

A Portland International Jetport spokesman was optimistic about air travel today, despite the weather forecast.

“We’re going to get through (Wednesday) OK,” Greg Hughes said.

He noted that most delays and cancellations at the jetport arise from problems at airports farther south that handle connecting flights, not because of weather in Portland.

It was a problem with a flight, rather than weather, that derailed the travel plans of Darlene and Bill Hawksley on Tuesday. The Readfield couple’s flight was canceled, so they decided to head to Boston to get south of the storm. They expected to fly out today and land in Richmond, Va., near their daughter’s home, about 24 hours later than originally planned.

“It just cut our cooking time. We were going to make pies,” Darlene Hawksley said.

The Amtrak Downeaster is seeing heavy bookings around the holiday. Ridership has increased each Thanksgiving season for most of the past several years.

Ridership is expected to exceed 2,000 today and Friday, compared with the average daily ridership of 1,100, according to Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority.

“We’ve got a good crew. We’re ready for it. So bring it on,” she said.

Traffic on the Maine Turnpike is expected to increase, though not to the levels seen on the busiest holiday weekends.

Last year, about 247,000 vehicles went through the York toll plaza from the Wednesday before Thanksgiving to the Sunday after. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving alone, 31,233 cars headed northbound through the plaza, compared with only 17,000 the prior Wednesday.

By contrast, over Labor Day weekend this year, 303,000 vehicles passed through the toll plaza.

Cohen and her immediate family are among a number of relatives who will be making their way to the Yarmouth home of her parents, Carole and Joe Long. If they all make it, 13 adults and two infants will attend the Thanksgiving celebration – a gathering marked by champagne toasts, games, football viewing, movie watching and trips to L.L. Bean.

Michelle Crimins, a psychologist married to Cohen’s cousin Fred, was hoping to be on the road out of New York City by 6:30 a.m. – right after feeding their month-old son, Alex. The Criminses ordinarily would fly to Maine but decided against doing so with a newborn.

They’re planning to split their trip into two legs, stopping at Fred’s parents’ home in Boxborough, Mass., overnight and continuing to Yarmouth on Thursday.

Still, she’s a little nervous. It’s only the baby’s second car trip – the first was to a doctor’s appointment 20 blocks away – and there’s also the traffic and weather. Crimins has been monitoring the forecasts for New York, Boxborough and Portland through an app on her phone.

“These are things you do around the holidays for family,” she said. “We’re doing it with a full heart.”

 

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]