This snow storm is expected to have a major impact on holiday travel.

Officials with AAA projected this Friday was going to be one of the busiest travel days of the year, but now they predict many people will be leaving earlier in the week or just staying home and not risking it.

“Wherever this sets up in the region, they could see some near-blizzard conditions with lots of snow,” said Alexander Gibbs, National Weather Service Quad Cities Lead Meteorologist.

The first big snowstorm of the season is on its way just in time for Christmas — and it’s heading straight for Illinois and Iowa.

“Whether we’re ground zero or not, that’s still to be determined, but somewhere else around here is going to be ground zero,” Gibbs said.

Thousands of people across the Quad Cities area are now being forced to change their holiday travel plans.

Experts now predict Wednesday will be the busy travel day, but they say the sooner you can leave, the better.

“A lot of people were planning on leaving on Friday, and I think many are changing and trying to leave beforehand,” said Molly Hart, AAA Spokesperson. “The snow is predicted on Thursday and people might be hitting the road today, tomorrow or before that snow storm arrives.”

“If you’re planning on traveling this week, if you want to be somewhere safe, the best time to be there is sometime later on Wednesday,” Gibbs said.

For those who need to drive on Thursday or Friday, Hart said to “make sure you have that emergency kit, this is one of the most important times to have it.”

“When we talk about cold weather kits like blankets and things like that, it’s for events like this,” Gibbs said.

AAA lists out some of the most important items to keep in a kit.

“You want your cell phone, cell phone charger, jumper cables, ice brush, snow scraper, you want to have extra bottles of water and snacks, extra blankets, gloves, hats,” Hart said.

But their main advice for any winter storm — if you don’t have to travel, just stay at home.

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