Despite rain, high gas prices, July 4th travelers arrive on Grand Strand

Traffic coming in to Myrtle Beach on Highway 501 on July 3

Despite the rain from Hurricane Arthur, the July 4th holiday weekend is shaping up to be a busy one on the Grand Strand.

AAA Motor Club says traffic this weekend will be the highest in South Carolina since 2000.

The club says Myrtle Beach ranks among the top holiday weekend destinations in the Carolinas.

Travelers stopping at the Myrtle Beach Welcome Center on US 501 near Aynor Thursday said they knew a hurricane would be passing by the Grand Strand.

They didn't care.

"We've been here before and we really like it and we just said, let's go, let's do it, take a chance," said Joanna Thompson of Stamping Ground, Kentucky.

"I watched the weather reports, we knew it was going to go. We're not afraid of a little rain," added Ted Kline of Chillicothe, Ohio.

AAA reports nearly 41 million Americans will travel at least 50 miles from home this weekend. Nearly 80 percent will travel by car, the most since 2007.

That's despite the highest average gas prices in six years.

But with South Carolina having among the cheapest gas in the nation, Myrtle Beach visitors also don't seem to care about gas prices.

"It's about 60 cents cheaper down here than it is up in the Ohio-Pennsylvania area, so didn't stop me at all," said Ron Salvino, who's vacationing in Myrtle Beach from Steubenville, Ohio.

Those added drivers, plus Thursday's rain, could create traffic nightmares for the Grand Strand.

"A lot of patience, a lot of pre-planning will make a big difference here," said Cpl. Sonny Collins of the Highway Patrol.

Collins said an average of 10 people have been killed on South Carolina highways over the July 4th holiday weekend since 2001.

He said that number could get much closer to zero, if drivers do their part.

Another sign of the busy weekend is in the weekly report from Coastal Carolina University's Center for Resort Tourism.

It says Grand Strand hotel occupancy will be around 94 percent this weekend, up nearly three percent over last year.