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For those of you in the Northeast getting ready to hit the road this Fourth of July, beware: The forecast is calling for a major heat wave throughout the region starting on Friday, which in addition to needing an extra bag of ice for the cooler, means your travel plans could be thwarted faster than a sparkler can burn out.
No matter your preferred mode of transportation, these hot and humid temperatures — predicted to reach the mid-90s — can wreak havoc on airports, train tracks and roads. On top of sweltering temperatures, thunderstorms are also in the cards “above the Great Lakes region…and across the I-95 corridor (DC, Philadelphia, New York City and Boston),” according to T+L
Here’s how sizzling temperatures can end up being a major roadblock this July Fourth.
Wired offers a thorough explanation of the science behind heat mixing with flight, but in a nutshell, higher temperatures cause air density to decrease, meaning a plane needs more runway than normal to generate adequate lift. That’s what grounded flights at the Phoenix airport (PHX) in June of last year.
If it looks like a flight delay due to weather means you’ll be watching fireworks from the gate on TV, check to see if your airline is offering a flight wavier. If not, remember that some top credit cards offer flight delay/cancellation insurance that will reimburse you for weather issues, including the Citi Prestige ($500 per passenger for 3+ hour delay), the Chase Sapphire Reserve ($500 per ticket for 6+ hour or overnight delay) and Chase Sapphire Preferred ($500 per ticket for 12+ hour or overnight delay).
For you Amtrak-ers out there, severe weather can do a number on train tracks. Like any metal or steel that comes into contact with high heat, railways can bend and expand in extreme conditions. To prevent accidents, trains are required to lower their speed when the temperatures soar.
As with planes, tap into your card network if your reservation is cancelled to find out what your options are.
Don’t be that car on the side of the road with a busted engine and a tub of potato salad that’s about to go bad. There are a handful of things you can do to prevent your car from overheating before it’s too late, such as keeping your vehicle properly ventilated and plenty of coolant in proper reservoir.
If you find yourself in trouble, many credit cards offer roadside assistance, but the terms vary widely between them. The Amex Platinum benefit is among the best because you’re fully covered for most basic services — in comparison, coverage on the Chase Sapphire Reserve (and others) is capped at $50 per event, so you’re on the hook for any amount above that. Amex limits complimentary towing to 10 miles, which should get you to a garage in most urban areas, or you can pay $3 per mile for any additional distance.
Above all else, it’s most important to stay safe during a heatwave. Keep hydrated, avoid alcohol and find shade when you can. Soaring temperatures can do serious damage to the body and can cause heat stroke or exhaustion. It can also be dangerous for animals, so if you’re traveling with your pets, make sure that they have plenty of water and access to cool air, however you travel this holiday.
Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.
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