Little El Nino moves in

look for less snow, more rain

Fewer hurricanes expected this season

Strategies

July 28, 2002|By Gerry Volgenau | By Gerry Volgenau,Knight Ridder / Tribune

Call it El Ninito, or the little El Nino.

Pacific waters are warming by a couple of degrees off the coast of Ecuador, which means this winter's vacation plans will be touched by the effects of a mild to moderate El Nino.

You could get winter rain where you don't want rain -- in Florida, for example.

Snow might not show up where you do want it, including places like northern Michigan.

But fewer hurricanes than usual will smack the Caribbean this fall. That's good, because island resorts usually offer great fall bargains.

We'll almost certainly feel the effects of an El Nino this winter, but "they won't be as bad as the last El Nino in 1997-98," said Michael Halpert, meteorologist with the Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs.

Vacationers might want to shift ski and snowboarding trips to the Rockies, where El Nino is expected to have little effect.

The upper tier of the Great Plains and Midwestern states is expected to be warmer than usual. New England also is expected to be warmer.

Winter vacations from southern Texas to Florida will probably be fine, but pack an umbrella.

Many people are jittery about traveling to the Caribbean in the fall, when the hurricane season is at full rant. If you are on an island in a storm's way, your vacation can get pretty soggy. That's why resort prices typically are low that time of year.

Not all the meteorological studies are in yet, but it looks as though this year might produce fewer hurricanes because of El Nino, Halpert said.

On the other hand, a Caribbean cruise vacation is unlikely to ever get spoiled by a storm. If a hurricane shows up, the ships just sail to a different, safer set of islands.

Those headed to Europe need not worry. El Nino has almost no effect there.

In brief

Vacations tiring, poll discovers

We've all heard it. Probably we've even said it.

"I ended up more tired after my vacation than before I left."

It's a problem.

A recent Gallup poll of 1,000 vacationers indicated that slightly more than half of us, 54 percent, come home feeling tired.

Nineteen percent feel absolutely exhausted.

Why?

For most of us, it all starts before we even leave town.

About 56 percent said they waited to pack until the night before or the day of the trip. Thirty-six percent stayed up more than two hours later than usual the night before, and 54 percent woke up earlier on Day 1.

More than a third said their jobs demanded extra work in the days before leaving.

Once on the trip, sleep stealers included noisy hotel rooms, uncomfortable beds, indigestion and worry about work.

What to do?

Start selecting and folding your travel items several days before the trip.

Don't overdo before you leave. Try to get a few good nights' sleep before departure day.

If you are flying, bring ear plugs and a sleep mask (blindfold) to ease snoozing in the air. Sit away from the aisle, drink lots of water and skip the booze, which will disrupt your sleep.

Once at your vacation spot, try not to cram too much into each day, bring a favorite pillow to help you sleep better and, once again, go easy on the liquor.

St. Croix worries

Another major cruise line has canceled stops at St. Croix, citing safety concerns, according to Travel Weekly.

Holland America Line canceled 36 port calls for the coming season by its new ship, Zuider-dam. In May, Carnival Cruise Lines canceled a total of 52 scheduled calls by two ships, Triumph and Victory, and cited safety concerns and lack of passenger demand at the port in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Among cruise ships still scheduled to stop at St. Croix this fall and winter is Celebrity Cruises' Constellation. Island tourism officials said they were working to resolve cruise-line concerns over safety and crime.

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