If your travel plans weren’t already uncertain, now Mother Nature is fighting your vacation
On top of the uncertainty surrounding travel due to the surge in COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and elsewhere, now travelers have to worry about Mother Nature disrupting their vacations. It's a good reminder to pay attention to the weather situation not just in your home city, but also where you may be traveling to.
For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
South Florida is tensing up for what looks like a water-logged weekend. The storm that was once Tropical Storm Fred lost steam after it hit the Dominican Republic, but it could get a second wind in the warm waters off Cuba and make a mess of things for the Florida Keys. The National Hurricane Center expects the storm to soak the Keys all weekend and potentially deliver tropical storm-strength winds.
Miami could see 3-5 inches of rain, and maybe more if the storm system lingers. The big concern is flooding, especially in the Keys and Miami Beach. Beach officials told the Miami Herald they already have extra pumps around the city to help with potential flooding.
I got an early preview of what this weekend may look like in South Florida. I was at the Margaritaville Beach Resort in Hollywood Thursday enjoying a beach day when the skies suddenly darkened, it started raining and wind gusts sent chairs and umbrellas flying into the pool.
As of Friday, the weather had not had any noticeable effect on flights in and out of Miami International Airport (MIA). That could change over the weekend if the storm arrives with the expected impact. If your plans involve South Florida this weekend, it would be wise to keep checking your airline's flight status and your weather app.
Elsewhere in the U.S., the concern isn't rain but scorching temperatures.
About 150 million people will be under excessive-heat warnings this weekend due to heat waves in the East and Midwest, as well as the Pacific Northwest. That area has already endured one deadly record-breaking heat wave in 2021.
Even though it's not expected to be quite as bad this time, cities like Portland, Oregon, and Seattle are bracing for temperatures that could hit triple digits again. The heat warnings in the region cover western Oregon and much of Washington. And with high heat and low humidity comes the threat of wildfires. There is already a massive one burning in Northern California. The Dixie fire has burned half a million acres already, and is now the biggest wildfire in state history.
Earlier this summer, wildfire smoke got so bad in Colorado that it led to hundreds of flight delays at Denver International Airport (DEN). Several flights were eventually canceled due to the heavy smoke conditions that reduced visibility and slowed takeoffs and landings.
So far the western wildfires have not led to delays or cancellations this time around.
Heat advisories stretch from eastern Texas to Michigan, as well as across the Northeast Corridor up through New England and cities such as Boston and Washington, D.C. Other cities like New York, Philadelphia, Kansas City and St. Louis could get it even worse as humidity could team up with the heat to make it unbearable for locals and visitors.
TPG has already been covering the one-two punch of wildfires and heat wave that have been plaguing Greece for weeks. It's been so bad, the U.S. Embassy issued a natural disaster alert to warn travelers about potential dangers. The fires are being called an "ecological catastrophe" worse than any Greece has endured in decades.
Related: What your favorite airlines and hotels are doing to fight climate change
The heat waves as well as the historic drought in the American West reflect how climate change is creating more extreme and dangerous weather. That is what was spelled out in the report the United Nations released this week on climate change. That report is being described as a "code red for humanity."
It contains nearly 4,000 pages of evidence and scientific research showing the scope of human-induced climate change and indications of what we can expect in the future if greenhouse gas emissions are not contained. But perhaps the most powerful element in the huge report is this clear, definitive statement:
"It is unequivocal that human influence has warmed the atmosphere, ocean and land."
Related: Delta to invest $1 billion to become carbon neutral