Search results for: 'drought'

  • Preparedness in the News: 5 Things to Know This Week (Dec 14-19, 2014)

    Justin Sullivan_Getty Images_Almond Farmer_CA Drought

    A tractor plows a field in Firebaugh, California, on February 25. Almond farmer Barry Baker had 1,000 acres — 20% — of his almond trees removed because he didn't have access to enough water to keep them alive. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

     

    Here are five need-to-know news stories in the world of emergency preparedness for the week of December 14–19.

     

    1. 11 trillion gallons of rain still needed to end California drought

    Recent rainstorms have brought hope to Californians, but the state still needs 11 trillion gallons of rain, or about 17 million Olympic-size swimming pools full of water, to end its extreme drought, according to NASA. More rain is in the forecast this week, but from gentle storms, not the torrential storms needed to make headway towards filling California’s parched reservoirs. Get your fill of the story at www.cnn.com.

    2. Potential Christmas week storms may bring snow, travel headaches

    Preliminary forecast conditions for holiday weather show rain and snowstorms across the lower 48 states, indicating travel conditions could be hairy. A cold front is expected to drive into the East Coast and significant flight delays may impair the Chicago area. Many areas may experience a white Christmas, though with the holiday several days away, forecasted conditions could change. Chill out with the whole story at www.weather.com.

    3. American Red Cross teaches children about emergency preparedness through game app

    Seven to eleven year-old children can learn emergency preparedness skills the fun way through a new app released by the American Red Cross. A game helps children learn to identify hazards and to use emergency supplies. The app works on both IOS and Android. Learn more at www.wday.com.

    4. Survival kits being ordered for every major bank in the U.S.

    Every major bank across the United States will soon have emergency preparedness survival kits. The kits will include everything from water purification tablets to solar blankets in preparation for potential terrorist attacks, and may cost the government up to $200,000. Order up the full story at www.freebeacon.com.

    5. FEMA hosts third emergency-preparedness symposium

    The National Domestic Preparedness Consortium (NDPC) recently held its third training symposium to train state and local agencies in hazard response, including counterterrorism; explosives; and chemical, biological, and radiological attacks. Learn more at www.bioprepwatch.com.

    More Headlines From Around the Globe:

    The debilitating outbreak sweeping the Americas
    Japan Snowstorm Dumps Feet of Snow, Kills 11; Hundreds of Flights Canceled
    California Storms Bring More Flooding; Mudslide Closes Portion of Interstate 91 in Orange County
    China approves experimental Ebola vaccine for clinical trials
    Concerns Over Flu Outbreak and Vaccine

    -- Caroline

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, Current Events

  • California Rainstorms Bring Flooding, Mudslides

    California Rainstorms Bring Flooding, Mudslides

    It’s been a tough water year for California. We’ve talked about the drought pretty extensively here on the blog, as well as some surprising effects it has had, like increasing rattlesnake populations in residential areas—in addition to the expected effects, like increasing food costs, more frequent and damaging wildfires (see here and here), and skyrocketing prices at water auctions.

    California started getting much-needed water last week, but it’s coming in a series of downpours that have flooded streets, caused mudslides that overtook homes and stranded motorists on the Pacific Coast Highway (a portion of the PCH is even shut down completely for 3-4 weeks because of the damage), and temporarily cut power to around 100,000 customers in the Bay Area. There was even a small tornado in south L.A. that blew the roof off one home.

    Just this month (1st-15th) it has rained 9.14 inches in San Francisco—compared to 2.08 inches that fell in almost six months last year (July 1 to Dec 15th). The ground just can’t absorb the water at the rate it’s falling, which leads to the mudslides and severe flooding that happened this week. Evacuations have taken place in several Southern California communities, and more will happen if the rain continues at these rates.

    A heavy storm is expected to come into Southern California Tuesday afternoon, leading to concern over more possible mudslides and flood damage. Northern California can expect rain and snow until Wednesday.

    Many California residents are unprepared for power outages, evacuations, and flooding—while others are ready, having prepared in advance for just these types of emergencies, with survival kits, family evacuation plans, and emergency gear they can rely on during the storms.

    Instagram user @annettecardwell posted this photo on December 10th with the caption “House is sand bagged, hatches are battened, fireplace is roaring. Ready for #hellastorm”

     

     

    House is sand bagged, hatches are battened, fireplace is roaring. Ready for #hellastorm

     

    A photo posted by Annette Cardwell (@annettecardwell) on

    Google brought their sense of humor—and a raft—along for the ride… because you never know.

    Twitter user @dwnydaisy seemed all set to go the day the storms hit.

    Unfortunately, there were also a lot of messages like this one from Twitter user @krisellelaran, who thinks Californians aren’t well prepared.

    Some California residents even had to evacuate because the storm downed power lines onto their homes.

    Being prepared doesn't always mean you get to stay home, or that there isn't damage to your property, but it does mean there’s less to worry about in a crisis.

    To prepare for heavy storms that cause power outages and evacuations:

    • Get an emergency kit for everyone in your household.
    • Buy or build a power outage kit for your home—you’ll appreciate having it during short outages where you get to stay home, as well as serious storms that require evacuation.
    • Develop a household or family emergency and evacuation plan.
    • Build up a supply of food storage and water storage you can rely on in long-term emergencies as well as short-term crises that last just a few days or weeks.
    • Research and develop important skills you can rely on for communication or survival.

    Prepare in advance, and you'll be ready for the next #rainpocalyspe or #hellastorm that comes your way.

    --Sarah

     

    Sources:

    http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/waterlogged-northern-california-rain-27626164

    http://www.foxnews.com/weather/2014/12/13/pineapple-express-storm-system-pounds-california/

    http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-first-storm-of-three-southern-california-20141216-story.html

    http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-portion-of-pch-to-be-closed-20141215-story.html

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, rainstorm, Current Events, flood

  • Preparedness in the News: 5 Things to Know this Week (12-6-14)

    Super Typhoon Hagupit_6Dec2014 Super Typhoon Hagupit made landfall in the Phillippines. 650,000 evacuated.

     

    Here are five need-to-know news stories in the world of emergency preparedness for the week of November 30-December 5.

    1. Super Typhoon Hagupit makes landfall in the Philippines

    Super Typhoon Hagupit (Ruby) is considered a "very strong" typhoon, equivalent to a category 2 hurricane. Over 650,000 have been evacuated. Read the latest at www.weather.com.

    For information on Hurricane (Typhoon) Preparedness, check out our 5-part mini series on the subject:

     

    2. American possibly exposed to Ebola being transferred to Atlanta hospital

    A U.S. healthcare worker working in West Africa who was possibly exposed to the Ebola virus is being transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, which treated the first two Americans who contracted Ebola while working in West Africa. Read the latest at www.reuters.com.

    Learn more about protecting yourself and your family from Ebola from the CDC.

     

    3. Winter crisis in Far East Russia causes state of emergency

    Russia’s Far East has received the heaviest snowfall in decades, causing a state of emergency and the need for military aid to dig its citizens out of trouble, which includes heavy traffic, slide-offs, power outages and food shortages. On the bright side, the storms cleared pollution in Moscow. Read more at www.rt.com.

    Be ready for winter storms by brushing up on your winter driving skills, reviewing these winter survival tips, and snagging any gear you may need to stay warm.

     

    4. It finally rained in California – but not enough

    After months of drought conditions, Tuesday’s rainstorm brought hope to Californians. 24 hours brought 1.5 inches of rain to the Bay Area and Los Angeles, breaking rainfall records in Southern California. Unfortunately, the storm was not enough to end the 3-season deficit. Read more at www.mashable.com.

    Be as prepared for a drought as possible. Store water before the crisis hits, and practice conservation both before and during a drought to get the most out of the water that is available.

     

    5. Michigan provides emergency preparedness app

    The Michigan Department of Community Health has developed a smart phone app to help residents to plan for emergencies. The app provides emergency contact and health information, and gives users the ability to create, manage and export emergency plans right from their mobile devices. Read more at www.detroit.cbslocal.com.

     

    More Headlines From Around the Globe:

    One critically injured in West Jordan car fire
    Chile: Mega volcano field 'could trigger eruption 100 times larger than Mt St Helens'
    Evacuations in Cape Verde after volcano erupts
    'Emergency repair' reported at Ukraine nuclear power plant
    Plane makes emergency landing on I-575 in Canton

     

    Some of these stories are scary realities, and some of them are hypotheticals (like the Chile mega volcano). We share them to help you think of possible scenarios that you may need to prepare for based on your location and your family's needs. We hope they help in your efforts to prepare.

    Any additional stories from this week you think others should know about?

    -- Caroline

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, Current Events

  • Rattlesnakes at Your Door?

    |8 COMMENT(S)

    Rattlesnakes at Your Door?

    Just in case you thought we’d exhausted the topic of bizarrely unpleasant side effects of the drought plaguing the Western US, here’s one more to chuck on the pile: rattlesnakes. According to CBS News, scarcity of ground water is driving rodents closer to homes and neighborhoods to quench their thirst. And where the vermin go, the snakes follow, with the result that “Rattlesnakes are Slithering Closer to Homes in Northern California.”

    The snake removal specialist quoted in the article reports a record year for his business, netting over 70 snakes in a single week. Incidentally, he keeps them alive in a room and releases them back into the wild—which, if you live in Sacramento, may not be the most comforting part of the article.

    I mean, not to creep anybody out, but RATTLESNAKES!

    I’m knocking on all kinds of wood as I tell you that I happen to live in a part of the country where rattlesnakes aren’t found, but I did have a glancing encounter with one as a kid at camp. As I remember it, one of my grown-up relatives took a shovel to the creature and lopped off its head—a technique frowned upon by the reliable sources below, I’m sure.

    So, what does one do if one comes across one of these nasty pieces of work, whether on the trail or in your garage? First of all, do your homework!

    • The US Forest Service offers a Snake Safety handout, with precautions, first aid, and some really enlightening snake facts. My favorite is the DOs and DON’Ts section—turns out Hollywood’s old cut-and-suck method is a no-no.
    • Washington State’s Trail Association has a page dedicated specifically to “How to Hike in Rattlesnake Country.” Tips include how to identify signs that a rattler is near, how to safely photograph snakes, and what special considerations to make when hiking with dogs.

     

    With all the other drama of this particular crisis, I really hope an infestation isn’t part of your experience this year. But if it is, learn what you need to do to keep your household safe. And for more info on other biters, stingers, and suckers, see our “First Aid for Insect Bites and Stings.”

     

    -Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: California Drought, snakes, wildlife, drought

  • Don't Drink the Water: Lake Erie's Toxic Sludge

    |1 COMMENT(S)

    We’ve been posting quite a bit this year about water problems across the country, and most of the issues have been drought related. Need another reason to be extra thrifty with your water? Visit Toledo.

    According to NOAA, Lake Erie is in for its fourth consecutive year of higher-than-average incidence of toxic algal blooms. Blue-green algae may sound picturesque, but the slimy carpeting floating at the surface of infected lakes and seas can kill marine life—and wreak havoc on human bodies, as well. And algae doesn’t just mean a bummer day at the beach; Fox News points out that Lake Erie provides drinking water for much of that region, both in the US and Canada.

    These images from National Geographic show how really, ahem, eerie this phenomenon is around the world.

    Don't Drink the Water: Lake Erie's Toxic Sludge

    Photo Courtesy of National Geographic

    The state governments of Wisconsin and Florida have fact sheets available to clear up some of the misinformation about blue-green algae and help people avoid harm. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s page emphasizes the importance of keeping pets from playing in or consuming “icky-looking and smelly” (their words) water. And Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources strikes at one of the roots of the problem, cautioning residents against over-fertilization, since runoff feeds algae and leads to unnaturally aggressive growth.

    Besides vacationing somewhere other than the southwest shores of the Great Lakes, there are one or two things we can do to minimize our exposure to harmful algae. Check out the facts and tips in these water storage posts.

    Stay safe on the beach this summer, friends, and keep your drinking water clean and slime-free!

     

    --Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, Current Events, water

  • California's Liquid Gold: Drought Time Water Prices

     California's Liquid Gold: Drought Time Water Prices

    Not to beat a parched horse, but here’s an angle on the drought in the western US that we hadn’t considered. Turns out the shortage of water in California is making millionaires out of individuals and organizations with extra stores or claims to private sources.

    According to the AP, in an article titled, “In Dry California, Water Fetching Record Prices,” the price of water has increased by ten times in the last five years, reaching past $2000 per acre-foot. The resource is sold at auctions, with large farms and cities among the bidders. One private water storage district in Bakersfield wrangled in $13.5 million in a single transaction!

    One of the most interesting points in the article is the description of water banks—essentially massive, underground water storage facilities where surplus is banked in years of plenty. Kind of makes my rain barrel look a little paltry!

    On the other hand, if each of us took a page from California’s most prudent large-scale water storage facilities, maybe we’d be less dependent on the kinds of exorbitant transactions that grow out of desperate demand.

    For example, smart home water storage might help maintain a garden during a drought, easing the pain of increased produce costs at the grocery store—the inevitable trickle-down as farms pay through the nose to irrigate commercial crops. (Read about both of these ideas in our articles, “Your Drought Year Garden,” and “How Does the California Drought Affect Your Grocery List?”)

    In any case, it’s all a great reminder of the importance of preparation, storage, and self-sufficiency in times of disaster or scarcity.

     

    What has your experience been with droughts and the cost of food, water, or other resources?

     

    -Stacey

    For more tips about water storage check out:

    45 Ways to Conserve Water

    Water Storage Overview

    Water Storage Options

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, California Drought, drought, Current Events

  • Preparedness in the News: 5 Things to Know this Week

    Preparedness in the News: 5 Things to know this week

    An overhead shot of the California wildfire from July 18th

     

    Here are five need-to-know news stories in the world of emergency preparedness for the week of July 14th-18th :

    1. Typhoon Rammasun Impacts the Phillippines

    Typhoon Rammasun pummeled the shores of Manila on Tuesday, July 15th. After experiencing the wrath of Typhoon Haiyan last year, hundreds of thousands of residents fled to higher ground and worked to shore up their weakened homes in anticipation of more severe storms. Read the full story from Foxnews.com.

    2. California Considers Setting Mandatory Water Curbs

    As a result of the three-year drought impacting California and other states in the West, California lawmakers are considering creating mandatory state-wide water restrictions for the first time during the drought. You’ll be surprised by how much the proposed out-of-pocket fine is for using your sprinkler in California...Check out the full story at foxnews.com.

    3. Chemical Leak Near Thailand’s Eastern Seaport Sickens Nearly 100

    On Thursday, July 17, at least 94 people were exposed to a chemical leak from a ship docked in Bangkok, Thailand. Residents were asked to evacuate the area and to seek medical attention.  Read more about this chemical leak from CBS News. But this is not the first time Thailand has been in the news this summer, read  about the recent political unrest and disaster scenarios people are preparing for in Thailand in our article, “Thailand Natural, and not so Natural Disasters.”

    4. Washington State Wildfires is so Massive it Creates Mushroom-Like Cloud

    Low humidity and 100 degree temperatures have created the perfect conditions for wildfires and large, billowing smoke clouds this week in Washington State. By July 18th, at least 100 homes had been burned. Emergency crews closed sections of U.S. 2 and other main roads across the state. Residents in Leavenworth, WA were asked to evacuate as ash rained from the sky. Read more from the New York Daily News and NBC News.

    5. Scientists identify Mt. Rainer’s volcanic center in detailed photographs

    According to the Science World Report, “Scientists are getting a closer look at Mount Rainier's volcanic plumbing. By measuring how fast Earth conducts electricity and seismic waves, researchers have made a detailed picture of what happens deep beneath the surface of the mountain.” Learning more about this volcano's internal plumbing helps us better predict and prepare for future eruptions. Check out the rest of the story at scienceworldreport.com.

     

    --Angela 

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, Current Events

  • Drought Update: Lake Powell's Bleakest Year Yet

    Drought Update: Lake Powell's Bleakest Year Yet

    We’ve talked a lot this year about the destructive drought choking the western US. And while California gets most of the attention (check out UNL’s drought monitor and their frighteningly visual perspective on California’s situation), other states are suffering, as well. In fact, the drop in a single reservoir is affecting residents of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah—and California! This headline from the Daily Mail sums up the dangerous situation:

    “Satellite images reveal mud-choked Lake Powell is LESS than half full and has hit a record low as the Western drought continues to strain major reservoirs”

    The article, which features a chilling image gallery of the barely recognizable vacation spot, reports that Lake Powell currently sits at 42% of its capacity, with experts estimating that this year’s snowmelt will only bring it up to about 51%. And it’s not just bad news for boaters. The man-made reservoir serves as a source of drinking water for 20 million people living across the west, and the Glen Canyon dam that regulates the reservoir provides hydroelectric power to the area.

    While forecasters predict a cool, wet “El Niño” year for 2014, Eric Holthaus over at Slate.com explains why that won’t be enough to recover from this decade-plus long dry spell in his article, “What Does El Niño Mean For Me?”. With no end in sight, then, how can we…er…weather this storm?

    For ideas on ways to prepare against the effects of severe drought, check out these helpful posts:

    And for a recap of this year’s drought and its unexpected effects, read here:

     

    What are you doing differently this year because of the drought?

     

    -Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, drought, Current Events

  • What to Expect (or not) from El Nino

    What to Expect (or not) from El Nino

    Here’s a cheerful headline to brighten your week: “El Niño is Going to Make Your 2014 Miserable.” Thank you, salon.com, for the good news.

    Actually, 2014 is half over already, and it’s been a pretty fair six months for me, so I’m not getting too hand-wringy quite, yet. I am, however, interested to see what kinds of wacky weather the warm Pacific currents have in store.

    The trick about El Niño, as we were informed by the Weather Channel recently (see their article, “Hurricane Season 2014: 5 Things You Need to Know”), is that its effects are famously unpredictable. Even salon.com’s efforts to sound dire are compromised, as experts warn us that the year could be unusually wet or unusually dry…or, um, neither.

    “Regions across the U.S. that are normally wet can dry out during El Niño conditions, while normally dry regions can flood.” Worldwide expectations related to El Niño are not always accurate, however. “There is an expectation of drought, but not in every single El Niño event do we actually have drought,” Lisa Goddard, director of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, said.

    Well, that certainly clears things up.

    Sounds to me like a good time to be prepared for any eventuality. So here are some articles to help get you set for whatever El Niño has in store for your area.

    Keep an eye on the skies, and let us know how El Niño is affecting you this year!

    -Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: el Nino, Weather, storm

  • California's Fire Season

    California's Fire Season

    During the few years I spent down in Orange County, CA, I didn’t so much miss the seasons, but I just had to get used to a different set of seasons. Fog season. High surf season. Ugg boots season. And fire season.

    If you’ve never lived through a summer-to-fall in Southern California, it’s hard to describe the brittle dryness of the air; the hot, dusty Santa Ana winds; the sinister orange tint of the sky; or the sharp burn in your throat as ash settles like cottonwood on cars and lawns. Wildfire season is unpleasant at best, and downright scary for those who live in the driest swaths. And California’s worst dry spell in recorded history is making that danger a reality for more and more residents.

    In mid-June, this report surfaced: “California Wildfire Threatens 1,000 More Homes Near Sequoia National Park.” While no injuries or fatalities were logged in relation to this fire, it swallowed three homes and was very hard to contain. Turns out the combination of heat, wind, and acres of brush sucked dry as tinder is exactly what a fire like this needed to grow to disastrous proportions.

    We’ve been watching California’s fires particularly closely this year. For a re-cap, check out our previous posts, “California Wildfires Spread Due to Drought Conditions,” and “Wildfires Plague Southern California.” And whether or not you live within blaze territory, it’s smart to know your wildfire safety. Here are some of our favorite resources:

    • FEMA’s US Fire Administration page has all sorts of free, downloadable materials on wildfire awareness and preparation.
    • We really like Ready.gov’s tip list for what to do before, during, and after a wildfire.
    • The Wildfire Preparedness page from the American Red Cross is organized similarly, and includes guidelines on rebuilding after fire damage.
    • Readyforwildfire.org has fantastic interactive information, video tutorials, links to action plan and emergency kit checklists, and a live Twitter feed from Cal Fire.
    • Everybody’s favorite furry forest ranger, Smokey the Bear, has a whole tab full of games and teaching tools for children and families at SmokeyBear.com/kids.

     

    What are you doing during the dry season to prepare?

    -Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, fire season, wildfire, Fire Safety, Current Events

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