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Travel Infos United States

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United States - Travel Infos


The USA offers a wide array of climates.  The average annual temperatures range from 29 C in Florida down to -15 C in Alaska.  Extreme weather phenomena such as tornados, cyclones, hurricanes, droughts, and floods are almost daily occurrences.

The entire eastern regions of the Appalachian Mountains are dominated by a moderate, humid climate with mild winters.  The inflow of cold polar air however, can lead to sudden temperature drops and frost.  Air masses moving inward from the Ocean make for humid, warm summers. 

The Rocky Mountains offer an alpine climate.  Temperatures sink as the altitude climbs and the solar irradiation increases.

The Grand Basin and Death Valley feature dry grass plains and desert climates with average temperatures ranging higher than 35 C.  Death Valley recorded its highest temperature ever recorded in North America at 57 C. 

This mountain region serves as a barrier, catching the humid air masses from the Pacific Ocean, keeping all regions to its east in a rain corridor.

Another weather phenomenon is the Chinook wind, which brings warm, dry air from the mountains down to the plains and valleys. 

The climate of the Cascade Mountains is moderate due to their proximity to the Pacific Ocean.  Particularly during the winter months, this region receives heavy rain falls.

The climate of the Great Lakes is continental and features drastic temperature changes between warm summers and cold winters.  The temperatures of the northern regions are particularly low, while rising toward the south. 

The narrow Pacific coast line of Alaska has a moderate climate.  The rest of the State is dominated by a humid, cold, sub-arctic continental climate with short, cool summers.  The thermometer won’t climb above 15 C, even during the warmest month, while the coldest time of year features temperatures as low as -25 C.

Time Zones: 

America’s clocks work differently.  The country is so wide, that different time zones had to be introduced.  Each time zone differs by one hour from the one next to it.  In Alaska, Hawaii, and other territories clocks have different times again.

From April to October the United States have Summer Time.  This is called DST (Daylight Savings Time).  All but a few states turn their clocks forward during this time.  

Another important note:  the USA uses a 12 hour clock, not the European 24 hour style.  What takes place before noon is “a.m.”, stemming from the Latin “ante meridiem”, after noon is called “p.m.”, derived from “post meridiem”.

Border Entry: 

Every traveler, even those from countries not requiring a visa, must have his fingerprints digitally scanned in and his digital photo taken at the airport or port of entry to the US.

Since 5 March 2003, all European airlines are legally required to make all US flight and reservation information of their passengers available to all customs agencies. 

Additional information:  Since 5 October 2005, an address of residence during the traveler’s stay is required information.  Travelers without an address may be denied entry since this date.

Laws and Legal Provisions 

Drinking alcoholic beverages in public places is prohibited almost everywhere.  Even carrying alcoholic beverages visibly is normally punishable.  This also holds true for national parks and other public institutions.  Alcohol may not be served to anyone less than 21 years of age.  In some states, the use of alcohol is prohibited completely, while in some restaurants the motto is “bring your own” (BYO), meaning you may bring your own alcohol and keep it in a brown paper bag under the table.  There are states that do not differ from Europe in serving or enjoying alcoholic beverages.

No smoking areas are more frequent in the US than in Germany.  It is highly recommend obeying the smoke free rules, as harsh fines may be issued if violated. 

Nursing babies in public is (no longer) punishable; however, it may trigger the one or other reaction of intolerance, primarily in less liberal areas of the country.

Leaving children of certain ages unattended is highly punishable in the USA.  This also holds true for tourists.  Generally, children under 8 years should never be left unattended, children under 12 or 13 years should only be left unattended for very short periods. 

If a ticket for a violation is issued, it should be paid at once.  Failure to pay may result in a denial of entry to the country or police arrest at the next visit. 

American police officers expect drivers who are pulled over to stay in the vehicle, roll down their window, and place both hands visibly on the steering wheel.  Getting out of the vehicle is considered a threat and may be answered with self defensive proceedings.

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