Google Maps has identified the best and worst times to leave for your Thanksgiving road trip ... except for the weather. (Image Via Shutterstock)

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Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and planning the logistics of your holiday travel can be a stressful affair. The same question seems to emerge every year: When is the best time to hit the road in southeastern Wisconsin.

Adding to this year’s Thanksgiving travel calculus is the potential for a big snowstorm. AccuWeather, who keeps an eye on seasonal weather, says a winter storm will move through the Midwest next week, dropping snow in our area Tuesday night, and potentially later. The result could mean more early travelers change their plans to avoid the potentially hazardous weather.

According to AccuWeather, “In this strong storm scenario, the swath from Denver to Omaha, Nebraska; Des Moines, Iowa; and Wausau, Wisconsin, would be in the heavy snow zone, but it could be a close call between rain and snow in Kansas City, Missouri and the Quad Cities area of Iowa and Illinois to near Chicago and Milwaukee.”

Google Maps Offer Travel Recommendations

Google Maps has identified the best and worst times to leave for your Thanksgiving road trip, helping you focus on enjoying family fun and chowing-the-turkey time.

Here are the times you need to know for turkey day related travel in the greater Chicago area.

  • Best Time To Leave Before Thanksgiving: before 6 a.m. Wednesday
  • Worst Time To Leave Before Thanksgiving: Wednesday, 4 p.m.
  • Best Time To Leave After Thanksgiving: before 6 a.m. on Friday
  • Worst Time To Leave After Thanksgiving: Friday, 4 p.m.

Traffic on Black Friday in our city will spike at 3 p.m.

Google Maps also used aggregated and anonymized popular time data during the Thanksgiving week to identify when crowds tend to be the largest at popular holiday venues.

Bakeries, grocery stores and liquor stores all hit peak crowd levels between noon and midnight on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Movie theaters and shopping centers, though, have the most activity between noon and midnight on Black Friday.

To determine the best and worst times to drive on Thanksgiving, Google Maps analyzed data from the 2018 “Thanksgiving Holiday Period,” which included the Wednesday before Thanksgiving until the end of Sunday after the holiday.

The web mapping service found the volume of cars on the road at a given time during this period, and received the traffic information anonymously from Android users in 25 cities throughout the United States.


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