Remember the great Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010 that spewed ash across European airspace, stranding millions of travelers throughout the continent—and beyond? Iceland may be giving us a repeat performance, this time care of the Bárðarbunga volcano (that's Bardarbunga to English speakers), which has been increasing its seismic activity over the last week.
A few days ago, the agency that monitors the volcano raised the threat level to the aviation industry to ”orange,” the second-highest rating, putting airlines around the world on alert for possible flight disruptions due to ash clouds. Though it’s still unclear if the volcano will actually erupt, travelers planning to fly to or through northern Europe in the coming weeks should be prepared. Here’s what you need to know:
London's the Shard—Europe's tallest buiding and home to the newest Shangri-La hotel—made headlines last week when it was struck by lightning during a thunderstorm on Thursday. The video above has since gone viral, with nearly 1 million views.
For those of you concerned about safety, a hotel employee assures me that no guests or staff members reported feeling or hearing the strike.
Peter Schlesinger is a research assistant at Travel + Leisure and a member of the Trip Doctor news team. You can find him on Twitter at @pschles08.
UPDATE: Whether you live in the Deep South, the Midwest or along the East Coast, you're likely to experience severly stormy weather today. According to CNN, 75 million Americans, or a third of the country, are under threat of severe weather, which may include tornadoes, high winds and hail; the Deep South has been the hardest hit, with a powerful spring storm system overtaking Mississippi and Alabama. The risk of severe weather is expected to continue through Wednesday, and may affect Americans living between the Great Lakes and the Gulf Coast, and through the Midwest and the East Coast.
This one falls in the “Are you kidding?” category: Just as East Coasters from New Jersey to Massachusetts are coming back online and picking up the pieces after the ravages of Hurricane Sandy, a nor’easter is threatening to wallop the same area this Wednesday or Thursday. Named for the direction the storm travels, this type of weather typically has many of the same characteristics as a hurricane—fierce winds, heavy rains or snow, and—brace yourselves (again) coastal residents—tidal flooding.
While this new storm is not expected to be pack the same intensity as Sandy, it is worth watching—especially in the Carolinas. Whether you live in its projected path, are planning a trip East, or just want to have smart weather forecasts in your pocket, there are five Webby Award-winning apps that should be on your Doppler radar:
Travel + Leisure’s Sarah Spagnolo presents easy weekend getaways from Savannah on the Weather Channel’s Wake Up with Al. Check out the video here.
1. Small Town Charms: Beaufort, South Carolina
On lists that rank the best small towns in America, Beaufort is always close to the top. Just 40 minutes north of Savannah, the enclave attracts former New Yorkers who love the relaxed vibe and Gothic architecture. Where to Stay Try the Rhett House Inn, set in a 190-year-old mansion, for the outdoor terrace where a complimentary southern breakfast (pictured) is served. Price $189 night, including breakfast, afternoon tea, bike rentals, pies for dessert, and more. Book Now www.rhetthouseinn.com
Nearly 6,000 and counting. That’s the number of flights cancelled as of noon today. Already this year, there have been more than 71,000 cancellations—and we're only six weeks in. If you want to get a sense of what this means for travelers across the country, just take a look at FlightAware’s aptly named Misery Map(above), which highlights not only where the bottlenecks are worst, but also how they’re impacting the rest of the aviation system.
If you’ve got an airline ticket for the next few days—or have any important travel scheduled during this wild winter—we’ve got some advice for navigating the storms.
Tips for Travel During Stormy Weather
1. Stay informed and be the first to know. Sign up for text and email alerts about flight delays and cancellations from your airline and services such as FlightStats. And be proactive about checking their websites, Facebook pages, and Twitter handles for updates; sometimes it can take a crucial few hours for a text message to arrive. Get a sense of what’s happening with live flight-tracking service FlightAware’s cancellation page.
Winter storms like Hercules may have injured retail traffic, but T+L News Editor Amy Farley expects travel to boom, as told to CNBC. Anxious skiers will be hitting the slopes in destinations like Vail, Lake Tahoe, and Utah, while beach-goers are likely to score great deals to sunny spots like Florida and Aruba during January and February.
With a name like Hercules, the snow storm set to bear down on the Northeastern U.S. tonight and tomorrow is sure to cause some heavy damage. Inches of predicted snow fall are in the double-digits for cities from New York to Washington, D.C. (up to 18 inches), while the National Weather Service has issued blizzard warnings for Long Island and parts of lower New England. Major highways like I-87 and I-84 will close from midnight until 5 a.m. Friday. Take these tips from T+L to prepare for the first blizzard of 2014:
Be aware of flight delays by signing up for text and email alerts from FlightStats as well as your airline.
Bring adapters and chargers with you to the airport to keep all of your gadgets and mobile devices running (entertainment for your toddler means sanity for you). Travel-friendly board games and packable snacks are also smart for kids.
Following the destruction wrought by Super Typhoon Haiyan, which appears to be the Philippine Islands’ worst natural disaster in history, relief efforts are rapidly rising up across the world. Here, while Americans commemorate the courage of their veterans, the State Department is hurrying to organize a team of these hometown heroes to provide aid in the storm-torn Philippines.
The scale of Haiyan’s devastation is overwhelming. More than 10,000 lives are feared to have been lost in Friday’s storm, and at least 600,000 people have been displaced. Police officials report at least 80-percent of the worst hit Leyte province’s infrastructure was leveled by the 200-mph winds and 20-foot waves.
This beloved travel destination, known for its breathtaking white sand beaches and jungle-capped cliffs, is home to four of the World’s Best Hotels, and is now in great need of international support. At TravelandLeisure.com, we extend our deepest sympathies to those affected by Haiyan, and we encourage everyone to do what they can to make a difference for those in need.
1. NATURAL PARADISE: Big Cedar Lodge, Ridgedale, Missouri A great family getaway set on 800 acres in the heart of the Ozark mountains, overlooking bass-filled Table Rock Lake. 81 just-renovated cabins have wood-burning fireplaces and western-inspired interiors, but who wants to stay inside when the great outdoors await? DON’T MISS Paddleboard yoga on the shimmering private marina, and, come evening, the Campfire Wagon Tours in an antique wagon. PRICE $149 a night. BOOK NOW.
2. GATSBY-ERA GLAM: Raphael Hotel, Kansas City, MO Fronting chic County Club Plaza, one of the nation’s oldest outdoor suburban shopping centers, 126-room Raphael Hotel is a landmark 1920’s Renaissance Revival building, with custom mahogany millwork and travertine marble flooring. DON’T MISS Jazz dinners at Chaz on the Plaza, where local musicians perform Tuesday through Sunday evenings. PRICE $209 a night. BOOK NOW.
3. ART-FILLED RETREAT: 21C Museum Hotel, Louisville, KY Designed by New York architect Deborah Berke, this 90-room property has a multi-million dollar art collection worthy of MoMa. Explore the exhibits—which are free and open to the public—or just hang out in your spare-but-polished room, with exposed brick walls and cheeky details, such as rubber ducky’s in the shower. DON’T MISS The Urban Bourbon Trail, a walking tour of 50-plus bourbons with a stop at 21c’s Proof on Main. PRICE $229 a night. BOOK NOW.
Travel + Leisure's Sarah Spagnolo presents easy weekend getaways from Memphis on the Weather Channel's Wake Up and Go.
1. CULTURE SPOT: Bentonville, AR This small city is being transformed into a world-class arts destination, thanks in part to the Crystal Bridges Museum, which opened in 2011. It’s owned by Wal-Mart heir Alice Walton, and houses her collection of American art. WHERE TO STAY The new 21C Museum Hotel, just off the city’s town square, has contemporary art from the 21st-century—hence the name—and a buzzy restaurant, The Hive. PRICE $175 a night. BOOK NOW
2. FOODIE ESCAPE: Greenwood, MS Inspired to see the locations from the film The Help? Try Greenwood, a low-key culinary mecca just two hours south of Memphis. WHERE TO STAY The Alluvian hotel is home to 45 rooms, five suites, a Viking Cooking School, and Giardina’s restaurant, a southern spot that’s been open since 1936. PRICE $205 a night. BOOK NOW
3. MUSIC HAVEN: Nashville, TN Music City has that perfect mix of old-school Southern class and modern country flair. It’s also known for its friendly people. And we’re in the middle of Vanderbilt University’s basketball season! WHERE TO STAY The Hutton Hotel debuted on the T+L 500 list this year. A secret: there’s a complimentary wine hour from 5–6 p.m. PRICE $249 a night. BOOK NOW