Is It Safe To Travel To Colombia?

There’s no doubt about it: The snow-capped Andean summits, pristine Caribbean coast, lush Amazon jungle, quaint colonial towns, mysterious archaeological ruins and ample opportunities for outdoor adventures make Colombia a beautiful, interesting and exciting place to visit. Despite this, until recently Colombia was largely avoided by tourists due to concerns over violence, drug trafficking and the country’s ongoing civil war. Today, however, is a different story, as Colombia continues to transform itself from a place haunted by war, rebels and gangs to a vibrant and largely peaceful country capable of attracting – and charming – tourists.  
 

Tourism Numbers Increasing

As word gets out that Colombia is no longer the dangerous country it was in the 1980s and 1990s, more and more tourists are giving it a try. Data from the World Trade Organization and The World Bank show that international tourist arrivals have increased almost every year since 2002.

The rise in tourists stems in part from a deliberate national rebranding campaign designed to let people know that Colombia is a safe place to visit. An official tourism slogan launched in the late 2000s declared “The Only Risk is Wanting to Stay,” which in some ways quietly acknowledged the country’s troubled past, while at the same time reassured potential tourists that those days are over.

Still Work to be Done

In addition to successfully changing its image, statistics support the perception that Colombia has been able to stem some of its violence. Numbers for extortion, kidnapping and murder have significantly decreased, while numbers for employment, foreign direct investment, economic growth and international tourist arrivals have experienced growth. But that doesn’t mean that Colombia’s work is done. 

Drug trafficking-related violence, for example, remains a problem for Colombia, though it tends to affect those with direct involvement with the drug trade, rather than tourists. Street crime is still an issue, so travelers are advised to use caution when using ATMs after dark (and avoid them altogether on deserted streets), to use taxis only if they or someone they trust has called for the service, and to avoid traveling at night on certain routes (e.g., travel guide publisher Lonely Planet recommends avoiding night travel on the road from Popayan to Pasto, the border with Ecuador, and the route from Bucaramanga to Santa Marta). And, as when traveling anywhere, at home or abroad, avoid carrying large amounts of cash or wearing flashy, expensive jewelry. Keep other valuables – such as cameras and phones – discreetly tucked out of sight.

In the Global Peace Index rankings, Columbia ranks 150 out of 162, fairly low but not among the world’s most dangerous countries. (By contrast, Mexico is 138 and the U.S.,101. Canada, one of the safest countries, is 7.) The index measures the relative peacefulness of 162 nations worldwide (representing 99% of the world’s population), as compiled by the Institute for Economics and Peace. Rankings are based on 22 qualitative and quantitative indicators, including ongoing domestic and international conflict; societal safety and security (including crime rates); and militarization. 

As always, it depends on where you go. Six cities in Colombia did make “Business Insider’s” “50 Most Violent Cities in the World” list (assembled in 2013), including Cali, Cúcuta and Medellin. So, by the way, did New Orleans, St. Louis, Detroit and Baltimore, in the U.S. By contrast, Cartagena and Bogotá, with lower homicide rates than these American cities, did not make the list.

What Does the U.S. Department of State Say?

The U.S. Department of State issues travel alerts and warnings on an ongoing basis. Travelers to any destination should check for notices before leaving the country and while abroad, if possible. A recent Colombia Travel Warning (issued in Nov. 2014) notes that while many tourists can travel without problem to and within Colombia, certain areas should be avoided and caution should be exercised.

The warning states: “Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Colombia each year for tourism, business, university studies and volunteer work. Security in Colombia has improved significantly in recent years, including in tourist and business travel destinations such as Bogotá, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Medellin, and Cali. However, violence linked to narco-trafficking continues to affect some rural and urban areas.” [Read the whole Travel Warning here.]

The Bottom Line

The number of international tourist arrivals in Colombia has quadrupled during the past decade. This is due in part to Colombia’s efforts to not only improve its image, but to confront its problems so that not just its image is fixed.

For example, Colombia is  working to craft peace deal that would end 50 years of fighting with FARC – the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. In December 2014, FARC declared a unilateral ceasefire, but two years of peace talks have not reached resolution and the future is still unclear. Colombia’s new 2014 Miss Universe, Pauline Vega, has been invited to sit in on the talks, which adds to the feeling of hope that peace may come.

It’s difficult to use the word “safe” when describing an entire country. There are spots in Colombia that tourists should avoid, but it’s important to remember that there are probably places in your own city that you would want to avoid at night. You can help ensure you have a safe and enjoyable visit by heeding the travel alerts and warnings issued by the U.S. Department of State, avoiding known areas of danger, sticking to popular (and populated) tourist destinations, and using common sense – just as you would at home.

For alternative tourist destinations south of the U.S. border, see Find Latin America’s Safest, Cheapest Countries.

 

 

Article source: http://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/022715/it-safe-travel-colombia.asp

MoDOT advises motorists to take travel slow on Saturday; many accidents reported


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. –

The Missouri Department of Transportation advises motorists to take travel slow on Saturday and to check road conditions before heading out the door. 

Dozens of wrecks have occurred across the area, some involving injuries, with Interstate 44 being the major problem spot. There were reports earlier in the day that traffic was backed up for miles after a crash at mile marker 81. 

The KY3 Storm Team says moderate to heavy snow will fall through the evening, with up to five inches possible for much of the Ozarks (locally higher amounts possible).  

Click here to view road conditions in Missouri. For those traveling in Arkansas, click here. 

Article source: http://www.ky3.com/news/local/modot-advises-motorists-to-take-travel-slow-on-saturday/21048998_31539568

Winter weather and travel advisories, travel bans, who makes them and what …

Where drivers saw only white during blizzard-like conditions on Valentines’ Day, public officials saw red.

ABOUT THIS WEEK’S QUESTION

Over the past few weeks, we’ve noticed there’s quite a bit of confusion surrounding winter weather advisories, travel advisories, emergency declarations, travel bans and what they all mean.

So, this edition of Ask the Truth is dedicated to clearing up the questions so you’re prepared next time a snowstorm strikes.

If you’d like to send your own question to Ask the Truth, write it down in the box at the bottom of the story labeled, “Ask the Truth: What have you always wanted to know about our community?”

The Elkhart County Board of Commissioners issued a disaster emergency declaration Saturday afternoon, Feb. 14, after heavy snowfall and high winds made driving near impossible. The travel status in the county was elevated to a “warning” advisory, which is highlighted in red on the Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s travel status map.

Red means keep off the roads. Red means if you’re stranded, it might take a while for emergency workers to get to you.

To raise the travel status to red is not a decision that the commissioners take lightly, said Elkhart County commissioner Mike Yoder.

“I was out driving around, and I knew the conditions were really bad,” he said. “So when the highway department had to pull truck drivers off the road because it was too dangerous to plow snow because of the visibility, that’s a good sign to get out.”

The commissioners, however, are only involved in deciding whether the travel status should be elevated to red. It’s Elkhart County Emergency Management that decides whether to issue a “watch,” which is orange; or an “advisory,” which is yellow.

Red is the highest level of travel advisory, followed by orange and yellow. Orange means that people should only get behind the wheel if it’s for work or an emergency. Yellow warns drivers that they might not be able to use the roads because the roads conditions could worsen.

Emergency management decides on whether the travel status should be orange or yellow based on what the weather’s going to be like and how drivers and road crews are affected. It’s a collaboration between the sheriff’s department and the highway department.

The sheriff’s department keeps track of the number of weather-related incidents and stranded motorists. The highway department keeps in touch with its foremen about whether road crews are able to clear county roads adequately and safely. Each department gives its recommendation on whether the travel status should be elevated.

Emergency management also consults the National Weather Service about whether the weather will get better or worse.

Once the travel status changes, emergency management informs the Indiana Department of Homeland Security to update its travel advisory map.

If conditions worsen to the point that the safety of drivers and road crews are at risk, each department makes a recommendation to the Elkhart County Board of Commissioners to raise the travel status to red.

“We’ve worked together for years, so when the sheriff says it’s bad and the highway department says it’s bad, it’s an emergency,” Yoder said. “These guys don’t recommend this lightly.”

During a travel warning advisory, only highway, utility and emergency workers should be using the roads. Anyone else driving during the advisory can be fined, said Elkhart County sheriff Brad Rogers.

But sheriff’s deputies are just as taxed as anyone else driving during severe weather, Rogers said. His approach is to only cite drivers found to have caused an accident even though they were told to not use the roads.

“Officers are just as handicapped in such a crisis as the public, so we really cannot just go out and enforce this easily,” Rogers said. “I take the approach that the public could be cited if they cause a crash or other serious situation when they should not have been out.”

No one, however, was cited on Valentine’s Day, he said.

The table below are the various weather conditions used to by the National Weather Service to determine whether to issue a weather advisory, watch or warning. 

(Source: National Weather Service Northern Indiana)

Article source: http://www.elkharttruth.com/news/Ask-the-Truth/2015/02/28/What-are-the-different-travel-and-weather-advisories-in-Elkhart-County-and-what-do-they-mean.html

Go green: Tips for eco-friendly travel

A vulture flies over the Estrutual landfill where a man searches for recyclable materials near downtown in Brasilia, Brazil. (AP)

Going green is all the rage. Here is how you can help.

With the environment at the top of everyone’s mind, especially in the corporate world, having less of a carbon impact on the Earth is desirable. This is true regardless of how you view global warming or climate change. Less pollution is a desirable outcome for everyone. A company’s motivation can be questioned: Are they doing it because it’s the “right thing” or are they doing it so they can use it as a marketing tool? Does it really matter? The fact that they are doing it is a good thing.

Here’s how you can get in on the action and make sure you are doing what you can to reduce your personal carbon footprint when traveling this year.

Think about the trip.

A lot of carbon reduction can be done before the trip takes place. Planning the specifics ahead of time can make a huge difference. See if you can combine your trip with another or if you can get more done while on it. Research ground transportation at your destination and see whether there is a shuttle or transit option. Research your hotel and airline options to find out their environmental commitments and programs. When you get all of your information together, don’t print it out but leave it digital. Less waste is the sure way to being more carbon friendly.

Before you go.

Turn off and unplug all of your non-essential electronics and appliances. Experts say that 5-10 percent of the average family’s electric bill is from electronics and appliances that are plugged in 24 hours a day. Televisions, modems, computers, DVRs and cable boxes, coffeemakers, toasters and even lamps can suck up power. The refrigerator, and maybe even that DVR, have to stay plugged in. But take a look around your house and I’m sure you’ll find a lot more that can be taken off the grid while you are away.

Turn down your thermostat in the winter and turn off your air conditioning in the summer. Heat and air conditioning use the most energy in your house, costing you money and negatively impacting the environment. If you’re gone for any extended period, consider turning down the temperature on your water heater since there’s no sense in keeping that water hot if you’re not going to be around to use it.

Choose a different way.

If you have a little extra time to spare, driving or taking a train to your destination might be an option. And there are always the long-haul bus options like Greyhound and Mega Bus. If you do have to fly, fly nonstop. Every time there is a layover, you have a plane dumping fuel before landing and then expending more to take off again. Plus, who wants to spend more time traveling if they don’t have to.

Don’t be Al Gore. If you want to have a lower carbon footprint, avoid private jets, even if you can afford them. And if you can, avoid private jets as they are the least carbon friendly because of their small passenger complement.

If you are driving, try to use a hitch mounted cargo rack for that extra luggage as opposed to the turtle on top of the car. Turtle tops cost more and create more drag, giving you fewer miles per gallon on the fuel side.

At the hotel.

Utilize every conservation program that the hotel offers. Don’t have your sheets changed daily, reuse your towels and turn off your air conditioning or heat before you leave for the day. Draw the drapes closed to keep the room more insulated. Bring your own soap, shampoo and moisturizer, or at least take whatever is left of the hotel-supplied notions home with you to finish using there. Don’t forget about recycling programs and all the other green intitiaves hotels offer. Skip the morning print newspaper and read it on your tablet, phone or computer.

Drinking.

Carry a water bottle with you so that you don’t have to buy plastic bottles. Travel to certain parts of the world and you’ll understand why. There’s nothing more disturbing than seeing debris, made up of plastic bottles and bags, littering what is an amazing travel site. Halong Bay in Vietnam is a great example of where this kind of manmade pollution is clearly visible.

Takeout food options cause an incredible amount of additional waste that needs to be processed or dumped somewhere. Always try to eat in, but if you are taking out, try to limit your use of napkins and other disposable items. Take only what you truly need, and avoid a bag whenever possible.

Offsetting vs. Reducing.

If you have reached your goal on reducing your personal carbon footprint but would still like to do more, check out companies that have a carbon offset program. United Airlines is just one of many airlines that allow you to put your flight info into a webpage and figure out how much carbon it will expend to get you there. You can make a donation to several carbon reduction projects offered by Sustainable Travel International to make up for that. Many hotels are also jumping on board, pledging their own money toward reducing their carbon footprints. A handful of hotels tare totally carbon neutral. Most of these are overseas, but there are some here in the States. The International Ecotourism Society has resources available to help you travel sustainably around the world.

Go green and do the right thing by the planet. After all, if we don’t treat old Mother Earth well, we won’t have her to travel about in the first place. Do you try to lower your carbon footprint when you travel? How important is it to you? Let me know in the comments below.

More From TravelPulse

Four Travel Cures to Treat the ‘Siberian Express’ Blues

10 Easy Ways to Make Your Next Trip More Eco-friendly

5 Eco-Friendly Hotels Where You Can Travel Chic and Green

Top Countries For An Eco-Friendly Escape

Six Tips for Planning Food for a Week’s Vacation

Mark Murphy is a noted travel expert, author and founder of TravelPulse.com.  You can follow him on Twitter at @murphytravels.

Article source: http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2015/02/27/how-to-go-green-when-traveling/

Does the 2015 Official Pure Michigan Travel Guide include your favorite …

LANSING, MI — Michigan may be white now, but the state’s tourism association is already planning for tourists flocking to the state this Summer with its 2015 Official Pure Michigan Travel Guide.

Detroit is featured on the cover of the 2015 Official Pure Michigan Travel Guide. 

The free guide is available online here.

“Our travel guide is a tremendous opportunity to bring to life the diversity of experiences Michigan has to offer while serving as a resource for visitors planning a trip to the state,” said David West, Vice President of Travel Michigan, part of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. “The information, imagery and insight in the travel guide help us to tell the dynamic stories of the people and places of Michigan.”

Michigan places featured in the guide include:

• Detroit, which is also on the cover of this year’s guide
• Lake Huron
• Michigan’s five national parks
• The Upper Peninsula
• The Au Sable River
• A guide to Michigan’s beaches
• Restaurants including Schuler’s in Marshall and Sava in Ann Arbor
• Pet-friendly vacation places
• A list of state parks

The digital version features videos, slideshows and a feed of daily travel stories from the Pure Michigan blog.

The guide was printed at Quad Graphics in Midland. The March/April issue of Midwest Living will include the distribution of 650,000 copies of the guide.

Those wanting a print copy can call (888)784-7328 or request a copy online. It will also be available at the state’s welcome centers.

Emily Lawler is a Capitol/Lansing business reporter for MLive. You can reach her at elawler@mlive.com, subscribe to her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter: @emilyjanelawler.

Article source: http://www.mlive.com/lansing-news/index.ssf/2015/02/does_the_2015_official_pure_mi.html

Winter weather and travel advisories, travel bans, emergency declarations, who …

Where drivers saw only white during blizzard-like conditions on Valentines’ Day, public officials saw red.

ABOUT THIS WEEK’S QUESTION

Over the past few weeks, we’ve noticed there’s quite a bit of confusion surrounding winter weather advisories, travel advisories, emergency declarations, travel bans and what they all mean.

So, this edition of Ask the Truth is dedicated to clearing up the questions so you’re prepared next time a snowstorm strikes.

If you’d like to send your own question to Ask the Truth, write it down in the box at the bottom of the story labeled, “Ask the Truth: What have you always wanted to know about our community?”

The Elkhart County Board of Commissioners issued a disaster emergency declaration Saturday afternoon, Feb. 14, after heavy snowfall and high winds made driving near impossible. The travel status in the county was elevated to a “warning” advisory, which is highlighted in red on the Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s travel status map.

Red means keep off the roads. Red means if you’re stranded, it might take a while for emergency workers to get to you.

To raise the travel status to red is not a decision that the commissioners take lightly, said Elkhart County commissioner Mike Yoder.

“I was out driving around, and I knew the conditions were really bad,” he said. “So when the highway department had to pull truck drivers off the road because it was too dangerous to plow snow because of the visibility, that’s a good sign to get out.”

The commissioners, however, are only involved in deciding whether the travel status should be elevated to red. It’s Elkhart County Emergency Management that decides whether to issue a “watch,” which is orange; or an “advisory,” which is yellow.

Red is the highest level of travel advisory, followed by orange and yellow. Orange means that people should only get behind the wheel if it’s for work or an emergency. Yellow warns drivers that they might not be able to use the roads because the roads conditions could worsen.

Emergency management decides on whether the travel status should be orange or yellow based on what the weather’s going to be like and how drivers and road crews are affected. It’s a collaboration between the sheriff’s department and the highway department.

The sheriff’s department keeps track of the number of weather-related incidents and stranded motorists. The highway department keeps in touch with its foremen about whether road crews are able to clear county roads adequately and safely. Each department gives its recommendation on whether the travel status should be elevated.

Emergency management also consults the National Weather Service about whether the weather will get better or worse.

Once the travel status changes, emergency management informs the Indiana Department of Homeland Security to update its travel advisory map.

If conditions worsen to the point that the safety of drivers and road crews are at risk, each department makes a recommendation to the Elkhart County Board of Commissioners to raise the travel status to red.

“We’ve worked together for years, so when the sheriff says it’s bad and the highway department says it’s bad, it’s an emergency,” Yoder said. “These guys don’t recommend this lightly.”

During a travel warning advisory, only highway, utility and emergency workers should be using the roads. Anyone else driving during the advisory can be fined, said Elkhart County sheriff Brad Rogers.

But sheriff’s deputies are just as taxed as anyone else driving during severe weather, Rogers said. His approach is to only fine drivers found to have caused an accident even though they were told to not use the roads.

“Officers are just as handicapped in such a crisis as the public, so we really cannot just go out and enforce this easily,” Rogers said. “I take the approach that the public could be cited if they cause a crash or other serious situation when they should not have been out.”

No one, however, was fined on Valentine’s Day, he said.

The table below are the various weather conditions used to by the National Weather Service to determine whether to issue a weather advisory, watch or warning. 

(Source: National Weather Service Northern Indiana)

Article source: http://www.elkharttruth.com/news/Ask-the-Truth/2015/02/28/What-are-the-different-travel-and-weather-advisories-in-Elkhart-County-and-what-do-they-mean.html

Heard on the Street: Local company offers travel health app – Post

Posted: Friday, February 27, 2015 6:46 pm

Heard on the Street: Local company offers travel health app

A Rochester company is offering a travel app for travelers to learn about health alerts at their destinations, and to address illnesses and medical conditions while traveling.

The app, called My Travel Health, provides specific and easy-to-follow recommendations to prevent or deal with travel-related illnesses, and it’s being released by Travel Health and Wellness. It details health concerns and alerts for 200 international travel destinations and recommended vaccines for each destination from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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      on

      Friday, February 27, 2015 6:46 pm.

      Article source: http://www.postbulletin.com/business/heard-on-the-street-local-company-offers-travel-health-app/article_60441be0-e687-5aca-98bf-63318f31c49e.html

      Snow across North Texas will be replaced by freezing drizzle, making travel …

      Update at 9:02 p.m. by Julie Fancher: Airlines cancelled about 1/3 of flights, about 300 departures and nearly 350 arrivals, out of Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport Friday, airport spokeswoman Cynthia Vega said.

      Vega said due to flight cancellations the airport was planning to keep concessions open until midnight to accommodate anyone staying at the terminals. They were also prepared to distribute cots and pillows as needed.

      Meanwhile the National Weather Service released snow totals across the area Friday night.

      Most of of the Dallas-Fort Worth area saw roughly 2 inches of snow Friday, about an inch more than forecasters had expected Thursday evening. Denton, and surrounding areas, recorded about 5 inches.

      The snow wreaked havoc on the roadways for much of the day and into the night.

      Dallas police said from about midnight until 8:45 p.m. officers responded to 269 minor accidents, 119 major accidents and 98 major freeway accidents.

      Update at 7 p.m. by Julie Fancher: Fort Worth police said they have responded to more than 600 traffic related calls since midnight, while Dallas police have responded to 235 minor accidents, 99 major accidents and 81 freeway accidents.

      Update at 5 p.m.: A Winter Storm Warning has been issued until 6 p.m. Saturday for Denton, Wise, Cooke and Grayson counties because of a band of snow parked just north of Dallas-Fort Worth. It’s dropping a lot of snow in a short time — an inch per hour, according to NBC DFW’s Rick Mitchell.

      Update at 4 p.m.: If you’re about to head home, our media partners at KXAS-Channel 5 are once again streaming their broadcast. Might as well watch since, from the looks of the traffic maps and the still-falling snow about to turn to freezing rain, you aren’t going anywhere.

      Update at 2:15 p.m.: By now you’re well aware that the inch to four inches of snow that fell across North Texas this morning and afternoon has closed major roads and schools, canceled major events and shuttered many businesses. At Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport alone, 200 departures and 240 arrivals had been canceled as of 2:30 p.m. And one lane of eastbound the President George Bush Turnpike near the Frankford Road exit remains blocked by an accident. For starters.

      But keep in mind: The National Weather Service says it’s going to get worse before it gets better. Long story short: If you don’t have to be anywhere today, tonight or tomorrow morning, get home and stay home.

       

      The big snow that fell across the area is turning into small flakes and flurries. It will stick around through the evening, says Dan Huckabee, a climate specialist for the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. But those “flakes flying in the air” will slowly, almost surely “transition to freezing drizzle” as the sun sets and, especially, as Friday turns into Saturday.

      “There may be a period where there are light snowflakes and drizzle, but by midnight it should be all liquid, which is not good news,” he says. “We’ll be below freezing at the surface, and whatever falls will freeze and glaze the snow that’s on the ground. It’s slippery today. But it’ll be even worse tonight into tomorrow morning.”

      So … stay put.

      “Even now travel is discouraged,” he says. “Of course some people have to be out.” Like, those of us at work or out picking up the kids from school. “But take the typical precautions — reduce speed, put plenty of distance between you and the next car. But there’s not a time period when there’s going to be a significant improvement in driving conditions in the Metroplex” until tomorrow.

      And if you’re wondering how much snow fell, well, it all depends. Some part of the area have seen an inch; others, four to five. “It just depends if you got under one of these heavier bands. But even an inch can cause problems.”

      Exhibits A-ZZZZZZZZZZZ:

      Original item posted at 9 a.m.: We end the week as we started it — with another day filled with school closings amid the threat of treacherous roads coated with some form of wintry precip, in this case snow and a lot of it.

      Snow now blankets the entire area, with road conditions deteriorating quickly and crashes piling up on area highways. The High Five and other elevated roads have gotten particularly tricky as the overpasses ice up, and at 12:51 p.m. Dallas police said the northbound North Central Expressway ramp at LBJ Freeway is closed “due to icy conditions.”

      The weather is now beginning to impact Dallas Area Rapid Transit light rail as well, with DART warning of delays — in most instances, because of street traffic. There are copious reports that downtown Dallas traffic is stopped in the city center.

      In Collin County, southbound U.S. Highway 75 is shut down north of Melissa after about 15 cars, trucks and tractor-trailers crashed or skidded off the highway to avoid the accident, forcing police to shut down southbound U.S. 75 between FM 455 — Weston-Anna Road — and Throckmorton Road in northern Collin County. Southbound traffic was shuttled to access roads, where vehicles inched along at speeds of 10 miles per hour or less. Northbound traffic was largely unaffected, but the drive from the Collin-Dallas County line to the crash site still took about an hour and 15 minutes over the snow-slick highways.

      Law enforcement officials said there were no serious injuries in either the collisions or in vehicles that skidded off the road. Snow continued to fall heavily at the crash site shortly after 1 p.m. Bridges and overpasses on U.S. 75 remained extremely slick.

      Dallas’ traffic cams show increasingly snow-covered highways, as well, and the North Texas Tollway Authority was reporting at 1 p.m. an accident continues to block all lanes of traffic eastbound along the Bush Turnpike near the Frankford Road exit. The NTTA has also closed the southbound Dallas North Tollway at Spring Creek Parkway due to an accident.

      “NTTA has a full complement of crews monitoring and patrolling the NTTA system,” says a statement from the NTTA. “Crews began 12-hour shifts Fri., Feb. 27 at 8 a.m. This schedule will continue for the duration of this winter weather event.”

      Schools are closing or dismissing early in Tarrant County, but Dallas ISD says it will close at the usual time, and Fort Worth ISDs chimed in that its schools will remain open, with middle schools releasing at 2 p.m.. TCU and UNT closed campuses at 10 a.m.; Denton County also closed its government offices.

      Power outages have not become a major factor so far, but Oncor reported a few thousands customers without electricity across Dallas-Fort Worth.

      Earlier in the day Fort Worth had taken the brunt so far. Police there say the mixmaster is closed because of motorists stranded on slick roads. Fort Worth PD said it was working dozens of accidents. “Road conditions are dangerous,” warns Fort Worth PD. “Stay off the roadways if possible.”

      Dallas County offices will keep their doors open: “After convening a call with the National Weather Service and many of our public and private partner agencies,” says County Judge Clay Jenkins, “Dallas County Government Offices and Courts will remain open today.” And Dallas Area Rapid Transit says it’s “currently operating normal schedules” while “continuing to monitor the conditions.” But there is one caveat: “Buses are to subject to local road conditions.”

      Dallas City Hall says it has gone to Ice Force One, our favorite Chuck Norris movie — and, of course, a sanding operating involving close to 40 trucks.

      “I do expect deteriorating conditions in Dallas,” says Channel 5 meteorologist Grant Johnston, as the snow moves into Dallas. Roads getting slick now won’t get much better throughout the day, with highs likely to stay below 30.

      As of 10:20 a.m. there were only 17 outbound cancellations at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, says airport spokesman David Magana.

      “But that number will grow as the snow impacts operations,” he says, so you’ve been warned. That said: “We’ve got all the runways still operational, and that’s one of our major goals, to keep as many runways open as possible. So far, so good.” But there are delays. And there will be more.

      “We have to be able to account for the deicing process, so that goes into the calculation about how many flights you can get in the air,” he says. “But everyone was ramped up and ready early this morning.”

      American Airlines’ spokesperson Andrea Huguely says “our deicing team at DFW is keeping very busy, and we are seeing some delays for deicing and runway cleaning. As of now, we have 60 cancellations on the regional side, none for the mainline.”

      At 2 p.m. the city of Dallas sent word that “Love Field runways and taxiways are open for incoming and outgoing flights. Maintenance and Operations staff is on standby to keep the airport operational. Airlines are deicing aircraft, and that may delay some flights. Love Field has experienced very few cancellations. We highly recommend that travelers contact their airline for flight status and remind them to be aware of driving conditions when they head out to the airport.” Good advice on a sunny day.

      The snow “will be around for a little while, until at least late this afternoon,” says Amanda Schroeder, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Fort Worth. “But we’re not expecting continuous snow. The rate will change periodically throughout the day.”

      Tweets our media partner Rick Mitchell, meteorologist at KXAS-Channel 5, “Snow lovers, enjoy this. It’s pure, unadulterated snow. No sleet, no ice … at least for the next several hours. … The steady snow will last into early afternoon, then taper off. Freezing drizzle likely tonight, so roads could get messy (or messier).”

      By the time the snow wraps up this evening, Schroeder says, we could see as much as two inches on the ground, more than what we wound up with Wednesday, especially north and west of Dallas. Temperatures now in the upper 20s aren’t expected to climb much higher. We should remain below freezing until Saturday afternoon, when we could get as high as a balmy 37.

      “We’re expecting a lull in the precipitation this afternoon and evening,” she says, “and it will change to a freezing rain tonight and Saturday morning. Then, by Saturday afternoon, it should be all liquid rain.” That’s a shame. Everyone knows chocolate rain is so much better.

      That said, you’ve been warned: “Road conditions could start to become hazardous with temperatures currently in the upper 20s,” Schroeder says. “It’s gonna stick to the roads.” The Texas Department of Transportation is warning people to “drive to conditions especially on the bridges and overpasses.”

      Stock up, people. Stock up.

      Staff writers Matt Peterson, Terry Maxon and Michael Young contributed to this item.

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      Article source: http://thescoopblog.dallasnews.com/2015/02/as-snow-moves-into-north-texas-schools-start-to-close-and-roads-become-slick.html/

      Pure Michigan travel guide released



      While Michigan’s winter wonderland is still in full swing, Pure Michigan is encouraging travelers to start thinking ahead to summer vacation with the release of the 2015 Official Pure Michigan Travel Guide. This free guide, available in both print and digital versions, highlights activities to enjoy across the state throughout this spring and summer.

      Individuals may request a copy of the 2015 Official Pure Michigan Travel Guide at michigan.org or by calling toll-free at 888-784-7328. The guide will also be available at the 14 Michigan Welcome Centers across the state.

      Feature stories in the 2015 Official State Travel Guide include National Treasures, featuring Michigan’s five national parks, 10 Ways to Love Lake Huron, My Kind of Beach to help visitors find their perfect Michigan beach and Golf Style, highlighting courses throughout the state. There is also a feature story on Detroit, which serves as the cover photo for this year’s guide.

      In addition to the warm weather Official Pure Michigan Travel Guide – which will include the distribution of 650,000 copies with the March/April issue of Midwest Living – Pure Michigan will once again distribute separate fall and winter travel guides in 2015, highlighting travel opportunities in Michigan unique to each of those seasons.

      The 2015 Pure Michigan Travel Guide was printed at Quad Graphics in Midland.

      The Michigan Strategic Fund and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) to publish the next Michigan travel guide. The RFP seeks a full-service, integrated marketing partner and publisher with extensive knowledge of Michigan tourism efforts to handle copy writing and content development, sales, production and proactive distribution of the official state travel guide.

      The complete RFP can be viewed online at www.michiganbusiness.org/public-notices-rfps/.

      — Submitted by Michigan Economic Development Corporation

      Article source: http://www.theoaklandpress.com/business/20150227/pure-michigan-travel-guide-released

      No decision on commissioner’s travel budget – WRDW




      News 12 First at Five/ Friday, Feb. 27, 2015

      AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) — It’s gone back and forth, but still no decision on commissioners travel. Votes went right down the middle this week when it comes to requiring commissioners to get approval before they hit the road.

      Heading out of town takes a lot more than packing.

      “Money obviously– traveling is money,” Victor Perez said.

      Last year, Augusta Commissioners spent $5,000 more than they budgeted and next week they’ll decide if a new travel plan should land.

      “Buy a plane ticket, buy food, it’s expensive,” said Perez as things he pays for when he heads out of town.

      You also pay for their rides even if they don’t bring anything back and that’s what Commissioner Grady Smith wants his colleagues to change.

      “From the beginning to the end. I want to know why he sat down at that table, what was going on in that conference room, who he was talking to, what were they talking about ,” he listed as things he wanted to know about commissioners travel.

      Perez says he’ll answer those questions about his own trips when commissioners pay for them until then they should have to explain how their trips get real results for the city.

      “Need to know why the politician is going on that trip for. I want to know why I paid and for what business,” he said.

      “Sometimes it’s really messed up, you know it shouldn’t be on the tax payers dollar,” said Vincent Lawson.

      Lawson says commissioners need to stop spinning their wheels on it and vote next week to require commissioners to get approval before they travel and explain what they brought back.

      “Because you want to know, the people want to know what you are spending the money on,” Lawson said.

      Which Perez says should only be spent on two things.

      “For the people and making the city better,”

      The committee couldn’t figure out what to recommend for the travel budget, so it will be up to the full commission to hash that out on Tuesday.


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      Copyright WRDW-TV News 12. All rights reserved. This material may not be republished without express written permission.

      Article source: http://www.wrdw.com/home/headlines/No-decision-on-commissioners-travel-budget-294445331.html