- - Sunday, November 22, 2009

Thanksgiving travel will be mostly by car

The AAA auto club says a few more Americans will be traveling away from home for Thanksgiving this year, though most will be making their holiday treks by car.

The group says about 33.2 million people will travel by car this year, a 2.1 percent jump from 2008. The numbers were based on a survey of 1,350 households.

Air travel was expected to dip 6.7 percent, with about 2.3 million people booking holiday flights. The drop continues a decade-long trend of fewer people traveling by air for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Still, AAA officials say, the slight increase marks a change in consumer confidence, as travelers may feel more financially secure and willing to spend money despite the recession.

Storm grounds flights; I-80 crash shuts lanes

RENO, Nev. — A winter storm with winds gusting to more than 80 mph is expected to leave as much as a foot of snow in the northern Nevada mountains.

The storm dumped several inches of snow by late Friday afternoon. It knocked out power for thousands of people, grounded flights and kicked up a dust storm that contributed to a fatal pile-up that shut down a stretch of Interstate 80.

The howling winds and the resulting dust and dirt reduced visibility to near zero on I-80 about 60 miles east of Reno, where the eight-vehicle wreck killed one, seriously injured six and shut down both westbound lanes for several hours.

High winds postponed scheduled openings this Friday at several ski resorts.

Man gets life in fatal scare

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A man will spend the rest of his life in prison after he was found guilty in what prosecutors said was a case of scaring a North Carolina woman to death.

Multiple media outlets reported a federal jury found 21-year-old Larry Whitfield not guilty of murder Friday in the death last year of Mary Parnell, 79. But they did find him guilty of causing her death by kidnapping her, and that carries an automatic life sentence.

Prosecutors said Whitfield was looking for somewhere to hide after a failed bank robbery attempt in Gastonia in September 2008 when he broke into Parnell’s home.

Authorities said Whitfield never touched the grandmother, but she suffered a heart attack when she saw him, and he didn’t call for help.

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