More than 10,000 lightning strikes have struck Eastern Norway in the space of one hour. “We’re still counting,” meteorologists report.
There is a violent thunderstorm east of Oslo. According to the Meteorological Institute, the storm will move north during the afternoon.
Lyn.met.no, the meteorologists’ website for monitoring lightning, shows that 10,581 lightning strikes were registered in one hour.
The power outage map for the electricity supplier Elvia shows that hundreds of households in Eastern Norway have lost power.
Communications consultant Cecile Gregersen in Elvia told newspaper VG that the power outages are due to lightning and thunder.
“Lightning and thunder that are the cause of the power outages we see now. We have power outages in several places, from Trysil in the north to Moss and Fredrikstad in the south,” she told the newspaper.
Before everything got weird and terrible, there were these things called rush hours. Between, say, 6 am and 10 am, many people would leave their homes to go to work or school, filling roads, buses, subway cars, and bike lanes. Then, from 3 pm to 7 pm, they would reverse their travels.
Then came the global pandemic and nationwide shutdowns, and things got quiet for a while. By early spring 2020, miles traveled by vehicle had dropped by 40 percent, according to the transportation analytics company StreetLight Data. Those who lived near highways and usually busy city streets enjoyed the clear skies and blissful quiet.
Now, rush hour has returned. Streetlight Data estimates that US vehicles traveled 20 percent more miles in March 2021 compared with a year earlier. But traffic patterns are very different. In many big US metro areas, what was once the morning rush is more like a jog. Instead, traffic slowly builds throughout the day, culminating in a big afternoon rush.
In the San Francisco metro area, for example, the number of vehicle-miles traveled fell by roughly half during the 7 to 8 am peak late this winter, compared with the year before. But miles traveled during the evening rush, between 5 and 6 pm, are only down by a quarter. Total vehicle miles traveled in the area were still down 25 percent overall this winter.
Traffic is a bellwether, experts say, offering insights into a region’s economic vitality, its goals, its character. Now, as more Americans get vaccinated, return to work and school, and resume their social lives, government officials are eager to discover what parts of pandemic-era travel behavior were related to lockdowns, and which stemmed from more expansive remote-work policies, which could be here to stay. Some cities are funding research to examine those questions; the answers will likely point to the future of the city.
The travel behavior of work-from-home-ers isn’t as straightforward as it might seem. Research on telecommuters from before the pandemic suggests that people working from home tend to emerge in the afternoon. Many take to the roads to head to cafés, libraries, work meetings, and client sites. Jonathan Stiles, a postdoctoral researcher at Ohio State University who has studied the travel behavior of telecommuters, has found that people with flexible work or telecommute-friendly schedules tend to use that flexibility to stay home in the morning, but then venture out later. One of his studies found that just one-third of remote workers stick to one location all day. If more people feel safe to move around, they’ll likely increase traffic.
Other researchers have noted that allowing people to telecommute sometimes encourages workers to move from dense city centers and close-in suburbs to farther-flung areas. In the end, they may end up driving more, just to run the same sorts of errands as before.
Some officials like to see traffic returning, to a point. “You look at it as a positive. It’s more economic activity,” says Darin Chidsey, the chief operating officer of the Southern California Association of Governments, a regional planning organization that represents 191 cities. That locals are out and about during the afternoon now means “people are back picking up and taking kids to school, doing activities, shopping.”
His organization wants to understand what’s happening in this quasi-post-pandemic period so it can plan for post-pandemic realities. Last year it began working with UC Davis researchers to understand how the pandemic affected local employment, household organization, shopping, vehicle ownership, travel patterns, and overall equity issues, and what changes may be permanent. If the researchers find that more people will continue to work from home, that could open opportunities for cities and towns once thought of as sleepy bedroom communities—for local downtown revitalization and, ultimately, more local tax revenue.
Britons can now travel abroad to the UK’s green list countries, including Portugal, Gibraltar, Iceland and more. However, long waiting times at airports during the coming weeks and months could throw summer holidays into chaos.
Travel experts had previously warned of possible long queues and waiting times at airports during the summer holidays, but this is the first time the Government has confirmed it could happen.
Last month, the Border Force union warned that holidaymakers arriving at UK airports could face queues of up to 10 hours.
The ISU, the union for borders, immigration and customs workers, also predicted long queues at the British border due to increased coronavirus checks.
In early May, Lucy Moreton, professional officer at the ISU, said: “We saw delays for seven or eight hours last summer, and with all the additional checks then we could see people waiting as long as 10 hours.
“There’s no way around the delays at the border because Border Force officers will have to check the Covid status of all arrivals and that takes around 15 minutes per person.
“So, people from all over the world will be mixing inside for a long time.”
The UK’s travel ban was lifted on May 17, meaning that Britons can now travel to certain countries quarantine free.
These countries are listed “green” and are Australia, Brunei, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Iceland, Israel and Jerusalem, New Zealand, Portugal (including the Azores and Madeira), Singapore, South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands, and St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.
Britons can also travel to countries on the UK’s amber and red lists, but they will have to take additional coronavirus measures and quarantine for 10 days.
However, travel industry bosses have called for more clarity on when more destinations will be added to the green list amid criticisms the Government has been too cautious in unlocking international travel.
EasyJet boss Johan Lundgren said: “The decision to put so few European countries into the green tier is simply not justified by the data or the science and is inconsistent with the approach to reopen the domestic economy.
“So we call on the Government to provide transparency on decision-making and clarity on when we can expect other European countries to join the green list so that consumers and airlines alike can plan for this summer.”
Additionally, Airlines UK, an industry body that represents British flight carriers, urged Mr Johnson and his Government to make “major additions” to the list during the next review tomorrow, June 3.
Chief executive Tim Aldersdale said: “This is a missed opportunity and, with so few countries making it onto the green list, represents a reopening of air travel in name only.
“By contrast, the EU has said vaccinated people will be able to travel without restrictions, which leaves the UK at risk of falling behind and not opening up International travel to key markets across Europe as well as the United States.”
The traffic light system will be reviewed every three weeks, with four key tests to determine which category a country will fall into.
These are the percentage of the population that has been vaccinated, the rate of infection, the prevalence of variants of concern, and the access to reliable scientific data and genomic sequencing.
Waitrose launched its rapid delivery service back in 2018. Waitrose Rapid enabled shoppers in certain areas to have up to 25 grocery items delivered within two hours or less on the same day of ordering.
The supermarket chain told customers on Monday that its home delivery service would end on May 28.
Waitrose said its service would finish at the end of the month “because Rapid and Deliveroo were operating in the same market with lots of overlap…So we’ve decided to stop Rapid and focus solely on our Deliveroo partnership.
“Through Deliveroo our customers can order our food for delivery in as little as 20 minutes, and we are also able to grow the service much faster than Rapid, to reach more customers in more areas.”
The chain has also significantly increased the number of home delivery slots on its website throughout the past year in order to keep up with customer demands.
Waitrose said: “The good news is that you can still order all your favourite Waitrose groceries and everyday essentials from waitrose.com, with one-hour delivery slots and a minimum spend of £40.”
Waitrose’s long-held partnership with Ocado also came to an end last year, when it was replaced by Marks and Spencer.
The pandemic has shifted consumer behaviour and meant that many more Britons are having groceries delivered to their homes.
Sainsbury’s has also been expanding its speedy Chop Chop service as well as having partnerships with both Deliveroo and Uber Eats.
Toussaint Wattinne, Uber Eats General Manager, said: “We’re delighted to be expanding our partnership with Sainsbury’s, offering over 1,000 fresh grocery and essential items for speedy delivery via the Uber Eats app.
“The addition of these new stores will provide greater convenience for customers across the country at a time when home delivery options are so important.”
The news comes as England is about to head into stage three of the easing of lockdown restrictions.
Although this means relaxation of the current rules, supermarkets still have strict guidance in place that must be followed.
Customers must still wear face masks in store as well as stay away from other shoppers.
Supermarkets have updated their rules regularity in line with government guidance.
The nation let out a sigh of relief on Monday when Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled his roadmap to unlocking the third national lockdown in the UK. However, with the news staycations will return has come a surge in bookings according to experts.
The border of Essex is situated just 48 minutes outside of London by car but is also ideal for urban dwellers who do not have a vehicle due to its excellent transport links.
Furthermore, the region is home to a number of beaches including Frinton-on-Sea, Mersea Island and Brightlingsea.
The county is also home to a number of areas of outstanding natural beauty.
Among them are the tree-lined Dedham Vale, the lush green Knighton Wood and John Weston Nature Reserve home to a vast array of wild plants, foliage and plenty of local wildlife.
“We think Essex is a great destination that’s hidden in plain sight,” added Mr Barnes.
However, even for lesser travelled patches, Mr Barnes thinks prices will “absolutely” rise in line with demand.
“The hassle, cost and even fear of travelling overseas, even in a post-pandemic climate will help demand for domestic tourism,” he said.
“More awareness of climate change and the UK’s newfound appreciation and love of the British coast and countryside will ensure that demand is set to continue.
“We should also remember that holiday park operators such as ourselves have been steadily investing in high-quality accommodation and facilities in recent years which has been a pleasant surprise to those guests that have tried us for the first time in 2020 and now want to return again.”
Luckily, that doesn’t mean there won’t still be bargains to be had.
“Prices do fluctuate with demand so if you are able to take say a four-night Monday to Friday break outside of school holidays, you can often grab a bargain,” he pointed out.
“The most popular hotspots, attractions and beaches will also be less busy at these times so you’ll get a more relaxed holiday and a great deal at the same time.”
Holidaymakers are advised to do their research ahead of planning, to scope out just how busy an area may be.
Furthermore, some holiday parks, such as Park Holidays, are able to provide guests with special discounts for local attractions upon request.
“We always recommend researching on the location or region before your holiday starts,” he said.
“There are some wonderful attractions, destinations and places of interest that are nearby to our parks and our customers are given lots of ideas on days out and places to visit prior to their arrival – often with discounts we have been able to secure for our guests.”
For Britons eager to get away on a staycation this summer, Mr Barnes suggests getting something in the diary as soon as possible.
“We can see in real-time that demand has started to grow which suggests that people are realising there may be more demand for holidays than there are holidays available so I would encourage anyone wanting a holiday with us this year to book now and avoid missing out,” the Park Holidays expert concluded.