Search results for: 'tornadoes'

  • Tropical Storm Erika is Coming. Are You Complacent?

    After 10 years without a hurricane in Florida, residents have lost interest in preparing. With tropical storm Erika traveling up towards Southern Florida, it’s high time to prepare.

    Tropical storm Erika - Path Tropical storm Erika's projected path

    Just yesterday it was thought that tropical storm Erika was expected to become a category 1 hurricane when it reached Florida, which means it would have wind speeds between 74 and 95 miles per hour. That’s definitely enough to do quite a bit of damage. Today, however, the storm is not expected to reach hurricane strength. But that doesn't mean it won't bring strong winds and a lot of rain. As Erika passed the small Caribbean island of Dominica, it left over two dozen people dead in the wake of severe floods.

    The Orlando Sentinel reports that tropical storm Erika could find its way to South Florida by Monday morning, and if that happens, it “will be too late to start planning.”

    The lack of hurricanes for the last decade has instilled an air of “it can’t happen here, it will happen to someone else” within many of the people, according to Orlando Sentinel. For folks in Florida, the time to prepare is almost past. But there is still time.

    True, tropical storm Erika could still miss Florida and hit somewhere else, but if you were living there, would you want to wait and find out? By then it will be too late.

    Floridians, it’s high time to prepare.

    Tropical storm Erika - FloodingFor the rest of you readers out there, what have you become complacent about? Florida isn’t the only state to be effected by natural disasters. Tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, and even winter storms can really make a mess of things. And then there’s job loss, stock market crash, and other economical disasters. These can be just as bad – or worse – than the natural ones.

    According to an in-depth study in regards to people’s emergency prep, a 2012 public safety survey suggested that “despite an increase in the number of disasters, too many Americans remain disturbingly complacent.” This complacency causes a failure to act in time to sufficiently prepare.

    Now it’s time to look deep into your soul and ask yourself, “Am I too complacent?” If you are, you can start preparing now. Turn over a new leaf, if you will. If you aren’t, then congratulations! You’re an inspiration to us all. If you’re not sure, then you may need to check your emergency preparations and make sure you have what you need. Even if you aren’t complacent, it’s still wise to check over your emergency prep every so often to make sure everything is still in good condition and ready to go should a disaster happen.

    In the past, perhaps you were able to “ride out” a storm or disaster. According to the University of Buffalo, this “can lead people to feel complacent when receiving emergency warnings.” Maybe the disaster wasn’t as bad as it was broadcast to be, or maybe you were just on the outskirts of the storm. Or, perhaps the local emergency services came in to save the day. A University of Newcastle scholar is afraid that people have become too reliant on emergency services. Such overreliance “leads to a disempowered society.”

    When disasters head our way, the last thing we want to be is disempowered. Take the steps now to be prepared, so when a stronger storm than you’ve seen comes, you will be the one in power, not the disaster.

    Tropical storm Erika - Vigilance Be vigilant to disasters, both seen and unseen

    Florida may not have had a hurricane in a decade, but that doesn’t mean they’re gone for good. Just because you haven’t been in the path of a tornado doesn’t mean you won’t. As the saying goes, we’re sitting on a railroad track and the train is coming. We just don’t know when it will reach us.

    Likewise, we’re all in the path of all sorts of disasters. We just don’t know when they will hit us. National Weather Service meteorologist Will Ulrich hopes that, “regardless of [Erika] or any tropical system, people already have a plan in place.”

    And that’s our hope, too. Regardless of the disasters approaching – now or in the future – we hope you will already be prepared.


    Have you ever wished you were more prepared than you were for a disaster? What was it like? Let us know in the comments below!



    Tropical storm Erika - Hurricane Page

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios Tagged With: economic, erika, tropical storm, preparation, Hurricane, disaster

  • Who Needs Blood Moons When There Are Black Swans?

    Blood moon and black swanThe suspense is building about “The Blood Moons.” In case you’ve not yet been caught up in the furor, this astrological phenomenon is simply a lunar eclipse, like the one occurring on September 27 - 28th, 2015. September’s eclipse, however, will fall upon a Jewish Feast Day and is the fourth such occurrence within 18 months. For some, the excitement this rouses will rival that of finding a quarter on the sidewalk. But for many others, the Blood Moons are a sign that the end is near–a fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel in the Old Testament, which reads:

    The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. – Joel 2:31

    Granted, this particular pattern of eclipses and Jewish Holidays is rare, happening only 10 times in 2,000 years. But what it all means has yet to be seen. As Yogi Berra astutely observed, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” More easily forecast, perhaps, is the fact that bad things will happen, and often when least expected.

    Like Black Swans. With no signs from heaven, foresight or scientific prediction, random calamities are commonly called “Black Swan Events.” Black Swans are those regularly, yet unexpectedly, occurring events that leave world-changing consequences. The term was coined by noted scholar and author Nassim Nicholas Taleb, referring to the unexpected discovery of Australian Black Swans that forever changed the world of zoology. defines such events as:

    “…an event in human history that was unprecedented and unexpected at the point in time it occurred. However, after evaluating the surrounding context, domain experts (and in some cases even laymen) can usually conclude: “It was bound to happen.”

    Blood moons, black swans, and the Salt Lake City Tornado August 11, 1999 the “impossible” happened: a tornado in Salt Lake City.

    For example, last week marked the 16th anniversary of an absolutely unforeseen and devastating event here in Utah; a rogue tornado dropped out of the clouds and fell upon downtown Salt Lake City. No one in the entire intermountain west could see this coming. In fact, most Utahan’s falsely believed that their beloved mountains geologically protected them from such whirlwinds. But in just a few short minutes, the F2 Black Swan storm came from out of the blue, literally, killing one, injuring over a hundred others, and inflicting $170 million in damage in just a few minutes, all on a summer day no different than a thousand others.

    In hindsight it seems obvious that the Salt Lake City tornado was bound to happen, just like so many other “unexpected” events in recent history: 9/11, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the Fukashima tsunami/nuclear reactor meltdown, the rise of ISIS, the collapse of the Greek economy, the Chinese stock market crash...need I go on?

    Blood Moons...and the flooded earth From Noah’s flood to today, disasters happen, predicted or not.

    Some would argue that Blood Moons and Black Swans are related, that these eclipses are, in fact, the predictors of today’s seemingly random calamities. But if we are honest with ourselves, today’s catastrophes simply remind us of how tough things are for so many people, and always have been. Paraphrasing the once popular bumper sticker, “Stuff Happens,” both predicted and unexpected. From Noah’s flood to Nepal’s earthquake, it has always been so.

    For the record, I agree with Abby Ohlheiser's Blood Moons sentiments when she wrote in the April 3, 2015 Washington Post;

    "The authority on what the blood moon means for those who believe really has more to do with a little cottage industry of blood moon-themed books promoting the theory."

    Whether or not the Blood Moons are in fact the harbinger of bad times is somewhat irrelevant. Surely, we see signs of danger ahead, and always ave. At the same time, as a society, we tend to look optimistically to the future, as well we should. There is so much to look forward to.

    Remember, if Joel's prophecy has any truth to it, he states that the last days will be "the great and the terrible." Whether or not those days are great or terrible is, in large, part up to each of us. We cannot halt the catastrophes that often abound but, to a significant degree, we have power over the trials and consequences of floods and famines, crashes and quakes, tornadoes and tribulations, moons and swans.

    Blood moons...or quartersAs for me, I'm looking forward to next month's eclipse; I marvel at the motions of the cosmos. And while I'm looking up, expecting the best, I'll keep an eye to the ground, as well. Maybe I'll see warnings and take heed. Or maybe I'll just find a quarter on the sidewalk. But I won't worry because, come what may, the old adage is simple and true;

    "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear."


    What are some "black swan" events that have happened to you? Are you worried about the blood moons, or are they just another celestial event for you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


    Blood Moons - All Disasters

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios Tagged With: black swan, blood moon, disaster

  • Tornadoes Don't Just Hang Out in the Alley

    Tornado Alley Tornado Alley

    My family used to live in eastern Colorado, on the western edge of Tornado Alley. Every year we’d get many tornado watches and a few tornado warnings. So we were prepared. We had emergency supplies ready to grab and go, a NOAA radio on the counter and shelter plans with our children. Both my husband and I were trained EMTs and participated in a community-wide disaster exercise.

    None of that helped on the day I cowered in the basement of the hospital, an hour after giving birth to my daughter, while a tornado passed nearby. Or when the same thing happened right after my son was born. I’m choosing to not consider those events omens.

    Every state and nearly every county in the United States has seen tornadoes. Texas sees the most tornadoes per year, mostly due to the state’s sheer size, while Florida sees the most per area, according to NOAA. Even Alaska gets them.

    Not Tornado Alley The Delta Center (home of the Utah Jazz) was hit by a tornado in Salt Lake City in 1999.

    Tornadoes can cross rivers, hills and cities. Numerous tornadoes have crossed the Mississippi River. An August 11, 1999 tornado in Salt Lake City crossed a canyon and hit the basketball arena for the Utah Jazz. Fortunately, no one was there.

    Elevation doesn’t matter. A hiker photographed a tornado at 12,000 feet in Sequoia National Park, Calif., on July 7, 2004. Tall buildings won’t stop tornadoes, either. Downtown St. Louis has seen at least four tornadoes, according to NOAA. The Los Angeles Basin sees as many weak tornadoes per tens of square miles as the Great Plains.

    Tornadoes mostly occur in the spring and summer. However, they hit every month of the year. “Tornadoes are like snowbirds — they winter in the South,” according to an April 22 article in U.S. Tornadoes.

    Parts of southern California and Arizona see more tornadoes in the autumn and winter because of the seasonal monsoon. Florida gets many, in part because hurricanes can bring tornadoes. Mississippi holds the sad distinction of hosting the most deadly tornadoes in each winter month: December, January and February, according to U.S. Tornadoes.

    The most important way to prepare for a tornado is to learn when one is coming. A NOAA weather radio can post updates on all kinds of weather. If you're looking for a good emergency weather radio, the Kaito Voyager Pro is an excellent choice.

    On average, the National Weather Service issues tornado warnings 13 minutes prior to a hit, but warning times vary greatly. Therefore, the NWS emphasizes knowing the signs of a tornado. The following signs are taken directly from the NWS.

    • Tornado Alley Warning SirensStrong, persistent rotation in a cloud base. (A cloud base looks like a rotating cylinder of clouds that descends below a storm.)
    • Whirling dust or debris on the ground under a cloud base – tornadoes sometimes have no funnel.
    • Hail or heavy rain followed by either dead calm or a fast, intense wind shift. Many tornadoes are wrapped in heavy precipitation and can't be seen.
    • Day or night – Loud, continuous roar or rumble, which doesn't fade in a few seconds like thunder.
    • Night – Small, bright, blue-green to white flashes at ground level near a thunderstorm (as opposed to silvery lightning up in the clouds). These mean power lines are being snapped by very strong wind, maybe a tornado.
    • Night – persistent lowering from the cloud base, illuminated or silhouetted by lightning – especially if it is on the ground or there is a blue-green-white power flash underneath.

    Know how to take shelter. Indoors, avoid windows, get to the lowest, most central part of a building like a bathroom or closet, crouch down and cover up with a mattress or sleeping bag. Glass and flying debris are the major causes of injuries in tornadoes. Don’t take time to open windows. As the National Weather Service pointed out, the tornado will do that for you. Get out of a mobile home and go to the nearest permanent structure.

    In a vehicle, if a tornado is visible, far away and traffic is light, drive at right angles to the tornado and look for shelter. If you get caught, park the car – out of traffic lanes, stay seated with the seat belt on, put your head down below the windows and cover your head with whatever you can. Don’t park under a bridge – it’s not safer than the open road and can create a traffic hazard.

    Beyond that, preparation for a tornado is the same as for any other disaster: have emergency supplies for a few days, have important documents on hand, and have a family plan. Then hope a tornado takes place where all of that can do you any good and when you’re not doing something like having a baby.

    Posted In: Disaster Scenarios Tagged With: tornado signs, tornado alley, Tornado preparation, safety

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