RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Heavy downpours during the morning commute Friday caused major backups around the Triangle as travel began in earnest for the Fourth of July holiday.
Traffic Tracker Kim Deaner said there were reports of several crashes and road flooding causing backups on I-40 and I-440, as well as other roads throughout the region.
The rain has since moved out and the roads have cleared some. However, with the holiday weekend traffic picked up later Friday.
July 4th travel in 2021 is expected to increase, potentially getting back to pre-pandemic levels.
AAA predicts more people will be on the road in the coming days than any other Independence Day Weekend. This is due to more people planning a trip but many still not feeling comfortable flying.
AAA expects 48 million Americans will travel this weekend. Of those, 43.6 million will drive to their destination -- a 5% increase from 2019.
Lisa Johnston and her family didn't travel last July 4 because of the pandemic, but they are hitting the road for Topsail Beach this year. They live outside of Mount Airy and stopped in the Triangle for gas.
"Just really busy," Johnston said. "People just need to slow down and take their time. Everybody is looking forward to the Fourth of July but we all need to stay safe."
Despite the traffic and the jump in gas prices this year, Johnston said her family is excited to set out for the holiday.
The national average for gas is up to $3.09, the highest of the year. In North Carolina, the average is $2.89.
Garner resident Maureen Mosure has also taken note of the higher gas prices. She is planning on meeting family at Kure Beach.
"I think everybody just wants to get out right now, get out of the house," Mosure said. "Cooped up too long."
Experts said the best time to travel Friday is before 12 p.m. The worst time is between 4 and 5 p.m.
Raleigh resident Pertella Cousin is staying in town for the holiday, but she had to drive to Spring Lake for work Friday and got stuck in traffic.
"It's very congested," Cousin said. "Like a few minutes ago. I just got off the exit. I think this is like 312. I was sitting in traffic."
Thursday saw hustle and bustle at the airport, but expect Raleigh-Durham International Airport to again be busy Friday.
WATCH: RDU sees uptick in passengers for July 4 weekend
Many airlines reported struggling to keep up with the sudden increase in demand. American Airlines said staffing issues forced it to cancel a number of flights through July.
American Airlines and Southwest Airlines both said they're offering incentives for employees to work overtime, especially during the July 4th weekend.
However you're traveling, expect Monday to be the day most people decide to return to their homes.
If you're traveling for the Fourth of July, be sure to plan ahead and be patient.