- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 23, 2014

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Low gas prices and the steadily improving economy should encourage a record number of South Dakota travelers to hit the roads over the holidays, despite the chance of bad weather.

About 260,000 residents will get behind the wheel and 8,700 people will take flights, said Marilyn Buskohl, spokeswoman for AAA South Dakota.

“This is a record number of holiday travelers,” Buskohl told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader (https://argusne.ws/1A15ZHn ).

Gas prices are lower than they were last Christmas for residents. A gallon of unleaded gas is averaging $2.32 in the state, compared to $3.08 a year. Gas is even cheaper in Sioux Falls, where the average price is $2.06 a gallon.

While low gas prices are a major factor, Buskohl said that consumer confidence “is increasing a little bit” over last year.

Some people may encounter tricky conditions on the roads. Parts of eastern South Dakota were expected to get up to 3 inches of snowfall through Tuesday night, the National Weather Service said. Much heavier snowfall and gusty winds were expected near the Black Hills and other western parts of the state.

The weather service’s Rapid City office issued a winter weather advisory for the region.

“I guess what we recommend is travelers plan ahead,” Buskohl said.

Tom Mouw and his family, who are from Sheldon, Iowa, weren’t worried about the road conditions this year. Although they have made annual driving trips to Clearwater, Florida, for the Christmas holiday, they decided to fly out of Sioux Falls this year.

“We like flying out of here because it’s direct,” Mouw said Monday before boarding his flight.

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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