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Wild weather and record travelers serving up congested, accident-filled Hwy 101 this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving travel
Kacey Drescher/KEYT Photo

Santa Barbara, Calif. - With a number of freeway closures, The California Highway Patrol says Highway 101 is packed in both directions.

The record number of cars on the road combined with rain, hail, and snow all reported across the state, have officials asking folks to slow down this Thanksgiving. 

“The 101 was a parking lot,” said a Los Angeles visitor. 

“Coming into Santa Barbara was super busy,” said a woman heading to Big Sur. 

This Thanksgiving served up a side of wild weather for Central Coast drivers - with a record number of vehicles on the road. More than 55 million Americans, 4.3 million of them from Southern California, are traveling this holiday weekend. 

“The heavy rain really caught people by surprise. The hydroplaning was just really dangerous, said Gayle Beebe. Beebe was filling up in Montecito, on his way home in Santa Barbara from LA. 

As traffic crawled down the freeway behind him, Beebe stretched his legs and processed a difficult day.

“Coming back in from Southern California, I saw 6 different accidents and saw people hydroplaning and unfortunately saw the coroner at one of the sights,” said Beebe. 

So far, no fatalities have been reported on Southern Santa Barbara County roads as California Highway Patrol officers have been working nonstop.

“Since last night we’ve already taken 12 crashes. Three of them consistent with injury crashes and one of them was a DUI crash,” said Officer Michael Fabila, California Highway Patrol. “There’s still crashes going on today so we’re just encouraging everyone to take a little extra time,” he adds. 

As of 6:00 p.m. Thursday, CHP Officers responded to approximately 24 accidents in 12 hours in Southern Santa Barbara County. 

Officer Fabila says the Cave Fire and the closure of the 5 Freeway are adding even more traffic into the mix.

“We know with the holidays more people are going to travel and with the weather, it’s going to increase the amount of work we get to do,” said Officer Fabila. 

With scattered rain not letting up, officials say there are just no shortcuts to grandma's house. 

“One of the main factors we deal with these crashes is usually speeding or doing some movement that’s unsafe, those are the main factors that contribute to these crashes. Especially with the wet weather, speed is the biggest thing. We just want people to slow down, give yourself some space between the cars between you and if you have to go below the speed limit, it’s more than welcome,” said Fabila. 

Office Fabila says CalTrans is also standing by with crews to sand and repair as accidents popped up. 

Lifestyle / News / Safety / Santa Barbara- S County / Santa Maria - North County / Travel / Ventura County

Kacey Drescher

Kacey Drescher is a reporter/anchor at KEYT|KCOY|KKFX.

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