Travel Weather Check

Clouds and sunset at Laramie, Wyoming

How do you prepare for travel?  Sure, we pack the right clothes, determine the route, lodging, fuel and other important factors that make the trip successful.  Did you check for weather?

During my recent trip to the Midwest states of the U.S., I thought more in-depth about the weather.  During the first half of 2019 the U.S. has encountered numerous wildfires, floods and tornadic systems. 

How do you know if a beautiful sunset could quickly change to severe weather?

I’m from the southeastern U.S. and we have these events as well, including hurricanes; however, I have not encountered the tornado types and flash floods that arise in the western side of the country. 

We heard of the floods through Mississippi, Arkansas and Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and throughout the region.  I kept aware while traveling through these areas, mostly by checking the respective state’s 511 system, WAZE and local radio stations.  The primary highways were open, but some secondary roads were listed as closed.   

One of the state roads we needed to take in Arkansas was closed and there were no signs of a detour.  The GPS took us down some back roads, including a dirt road, and we finally ended up on the other side of the road damage.  I was questioning where the GPS was right though because it has diverted me at times for no reason. 

Traveling along the Missouri River in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas presented some problems.  Some of the major routes were closed but the Interstate 29 we wanted to travel had recently opened.  Here is an example of the 511 reports this week.  https://lb.511ia.org/ialb/roadreports/route.jsf?route=19%3A4&textOnly=false&current=true

There was a stretch of more than 50 miles where all exits were closed.  Imagine the impact to the farm community as well as the businesses that couldn’t receive customers. 

We saw many areas where water had been over the Interstate itself, and it still was not receding quickly.  There were also signs of damage to farm equipment and property.  At times I could not tell where a lake was because of the flooded plains.  It looked like continuous lakes. 

One of the major concerns I had was the possibility of encountering a major tornado that we hear about on the news many times.  These Midwest systems are much larger than ones in coastal areas.  I kept a keen watch for cloud formations and kept the radio on when I saw suspicious clouds and kept aware of potential areas to take cover in event a tornado formed quickly.  

Just look at these clouds as we arrived in Laramie, Wyoming.  I didn’t let my guard down and made sure my phone was on during the night in case an alarm was sent out.

There aren’t many places to shelter when one is driving in the open terrain.  That’s where radio information is invaluable and can tell us the direction of the system.  It’s also good to know your directions too.  Do you have a compass?

I had already decided if I was stuck in the open terrain and had no place to shelter, I would stop somewhere with a ravine, ditch or depression in the ground to minimize flying debris.  I also brought extra rain gear and coats to cover up while lying in a low area if needed.  Of course, you always have to consider the potential for flash flooding in these areas as well. 

Remember!  Highway overpasses are NOT tornado shelters and should be avoided.  They can create high winds funneling through that can bring debris and/or sweep you away. 

It was interesting that tornados hit some of the areas just before and after our visits.  For instance, a tornado (I think EF-3) traveled just north of Laramie a couple of days ago.   https://laramielive.com/tags/tornado/

I compared the clouds we saw to the clouds in these tornadic systems.  They looked the same to me, except our clouds apparently lacked strong wind circulation. 

So, when you travel – don’t forget to check weather and know the conditions in the area that could lead to dangerous weather.

Don’t do like the example of storm chasers in this video clip as they chased the tornado near Laramie.   Safe travels. 

More information is available at https://www.weather.gov/ama/severesafetytips. 

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Race Traffic – Safe Drive

“Ready, set, go”, or “drivers, start your engines.”

For those traveling Interstate 95 in the U.S, particularly in northeast Florida, you will encounter an extra amount of traffic.  Daytona 500’s speed weeks are this week and the big race – Daytona 500 in Daytona, Florida  – is Sunday. 

Front view of Daytona National Speedway stadium

You’ll notice not only extra traffic but people driving like they are in the race itself, going excessively over the speed limit and darting between other vehicles with drivers trying to drive safely. 

I appreciate our law enforcement doing what they can, but they can’t be everywhere.  SO!  Please drive with extra caution and please don’t let the less responsible ruin your travel plans, nor prevent you from “arriving alive.”  https://www.flhsmv.gov/safety-center/arrivealive/.

Florida Highway Patrol website image to highlight “Arrive Alive.”

Most people don’t realize they can call *FHP or *347 while in Florida to help with an emergency on the Interstate, or to report a hazardous condition.

Also, for those traveling in the Daytona area please be aware of an increase in pedestrians and bicyclists as thousands of people walk, bike and drive the area.  Florida Department of Transportation’s “Alert Today, Alive Tomorrow” emphasis overall and specific traffic safety at https://www.alerttodayflorida.com/

For more information on the Daytona 500 races, the website is https://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/Events/Responsive-Event-Calendar.aspx.  (“Drivers, start your engines” is a common phrase used at NASCAR races by a special guest to tell drivers they may start their engines for the race.)

A good source for free traffic information is https//FL511.com

Drive, walk and bike responsibly.

Blessings along the Way!

Ron

Daytona What?

Daytona What?

Ever been to the Daytona 500 stock car race in Florida?  DAYTONA-B-ROLL

It’s really exciting watching the speeding pieces of metal at 190-200 mph; with a human strapped inside.

If you get the chance it is always an exciting event that begins NASCAR’s season.  It’s the “super bowl” of auto racing.

https://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com/Events/2016/Speedweeks-At-DAYTONA/Speedweeks-At-DAYTONA.aspx

Well, along with the exciting event comes the traffic too if you are traveling in Florida this week and next week.  Even Disney’s theme parks experience a surge in guests.

Here are some traffic tips to go along with your travels; thanks to Florida Department of Transportation.

The Florida Department of Transportation encourages motorists to use the 511 Traveler Information System for information on current roadway impediments.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=j29WOKnz7ww#t=0

Daytona Raceway 3 by Caleb Gressman
Daytona Raceway prepares for Speedweeks and the Daytona 500 (photo by Caleb Gressman)

In addition to Sunday’s DAYTONA 500, the Speedway will host major events featuring the Can-Am Duel, NextEra Energy Resources 250 and PowerShares QQQ 300 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday—all are expected to draw large crowds to the area. Travelers should be prepared for increased congestion on I-4 from Orlando to Daytona Beach and I-95 from Jacksonville to Titusville.

Real-Time Traffic Updates

FDOT encourages race fans and travelers in the area to check the Florida 511 Traveler Information System prior to hitting the road to stay up-to-date on crashes, congestion, construction and more. The 511 system provides information on all of Florida’s interstates, toll roads and other major metropolitan roadways, including those near the Speedway, such as I-4 and I-95.

There are five convenient ways for all motorists to receive traffic updates:

  • Call 511 toll free for updates in English and Spanish.
  • Visit FL511.com for interactive roadway maps showing traffic congestion and crashes, travel times and traffic camera views.
  • Sign up for a “My Florida 511” account at FL511.com to create custom routes and register for email, text or phone alerts.
  • Download the free Florida 511 mobile app available on Google Play or Apple App Store.
  • Follow one of the 13 statewide, regional or roadway-specific Twitter feeds (#FL511), including @FL511_I75,@FL511_Central, @FL511_I95 and @FL511_I4.

Alternate Routes

During peak Speedweeks traffic, FDOT suggests travelers who are traveling through the area to consider using alternate routes such as SR 44, if traveling north on I-95 or east on I-4.

Parking

Daytona International Speedway offers fans free parking and park-and-ride service to and from the Speedway before and after the events. To access the free parking lots, fans are encouraged to take the following exits:

  • Traveling south on I-95 exit at US 1 (exit 273)
  • Traveling north on I-95 exit at LPGA Blvd. (exit 265) or SR 44 (exit 249)
  • Traveling east on I-4 exit at SR 44 (exit 118) or SR 400/Beville Road

Detailed directions to parking are available at DAYTONA500.com.

Safety Tips

  • Call 511 before driving or have a passenger call to avoid using a phone while driving.
  • Allow ample time to reach your destination if traveling to or near the Daytona Beach area during on the days when traffic is expected to be the heaviest.
  • Always wear a safety belt.
  • Don’t drink and drive.

 Florida 511 Features

  • Traffic information on all interstate highways, toll roads and many other metropolitan roadways.
  • Commuter travel times and reports on crashes, congestion and construction.
  • Public transit, airport and seaport information.
  • AMBER, Silver and law enforcement alerts. America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response (AMBER) Alerts notify the public of the most serious child-abduction cases. Silver Alerts notify the public when law enforcement agencies are searching for missing adults or citizens with cognitive impairments, including Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Law Enforcement Officer (LEO) Alerts notify the public when law enforcement officers are searching for an offender(s) who has seriously injured or killed a law enforcement officer.
  • Travel information, traffic camera views and free personalized services, including customized travel routes and email, text and phone call alerts, available on FL511.com.
  • Voice-activated and touch-tone navigation available when calling 511.
  • The 511 phone call and  FL511.com website are available in English and Spanish.

(Daytona Raceway prepares for Speedweeks and the Daytona 500.  FDOT is there to remind drivers to be Safe Today, or Tonight, and be Alive Tomorrow.  Photo by Caleb Gressman)

Here is my personal note:

ENJOY FLORIDA!  Drive safely and responsibly.  When you’re walking or biking please know and follow the rules and watch for motorists who don’t see you!

Be alert today so you’ll be alive tomorrow.  IMG_4603

While this is not the Daytona 500, it is representative of racing and the emphasis on being alert – no matter what you use to get around – whether your feet, wheelchair, bike or motorized vehicle.  Thanks Sweet Motorsports for helping get the message out.

 

 

 

 

Holiday Travels – be careful out there

It’s crazy on the roadways and people scurry around to and fro, commuting and visiting, especially this time of year.

Do you know of the roadway changes and traveling rules in respective states while traveling?

Maybe we all should take a few minutes and acquaint ourselves before heading out.

Even while living in Florida I realize quite frequently how roads change and how laws apply – and I’ve lived here for most of my life.

Since age is creeping up on me, although I’m still young at heart and still healthy, I’m thinking about taking the AARP course I just came across:  http://www.aarpdriversafety.org/?intcmp=EWHERE-MBCHAE-LP-BCW2.  I also try to read various rules of the road when I can.

What about you?  How do you stay abreast of changes while traveling?

Also, don’t rely completely on the GPS.  I see daily changes in traffic patterns on roadways and the GPS can’t always keep up with them.

Know before you go and use good situation awareness.  Be aware of distracted and aggressive drivers and don’t fall prey to them.  Let’s watch our own bad habits while we’re at it.

Have you used the 511 app?

It has good traffic information.  While in Florida I use the FL511 app.  I find it useful and current.  You can find more information at www.fl511.com.

Be safe traveling.  I trust you experience great blessings and safe travels during this time of year.

Enjoy Life and Live!