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Washingtonians brace for heavy traffic Memorial Day weekend

According to AAA Washington, Thursday is expected to be the busiest day of travel for the long weekend.

TACOMA, Wash. — Hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians are among the millions of Americans expected to hit the road Memorial Day weekend to kick off the summer travel season.

According to AAA, the most travel has been booked since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On May 20 alone, hotels were booked online in record numbers not seen since before the pandemic. Half of these bookings were for Memorial Day weekend.

"We're expecting to see 37 million Americans travel, 882,000 of them from Washington,” said Kelly Just, public relations manager for AAA Washington. “So, obviously, it's a big jump, but it's still a lower amount than pre-pandemic levels.”

RELATED: 100,000 passengers a day projected to travel through SeaTac airport over Memorial Day weekend

Of those 37 million Americans, Just said 34 million would travel by car. She said Washingtonians are planning to stay closer to home and make shorter trips to limit exposure. However, Just also said this jump in comparison to pandemic levels can also be attributed to the new CDC mask requirements.

According to AAA Washington, Thursday is expected to be the busiest day of travel for the long weekend.

The travel agency estimates heavy traffic on Interstate 5 between Seattle and Lynnwood in both directions in the evening. Southbound Interstate 405 between Kirkland and Renton could see intense backups during the evening as well.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) also predicts drive times will increase in several areas across the state. Click here for WSDOT Memorial Day weekend travel tips.