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  • Earthquakes Swarm Under Mount Saint Helens

    The Force Volcano Awakens

    Mount Saint Helens SmokingMount Saint Helens – the volcano that blew off 1,000 feet of the mountain and darkened the skies with its ash in 1980 – is reportedly ripe with earthquakes. According to reports from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), there have been over 130 earthquake around Mount Saint Helens since March 14, 2016. That’s a lot of seismic activity!

    Fortunately, most of the earthquakes have magnitudes of 0.5 or less. The strongest recorded quake in this time period was a magnitude 1.3. Even standing directly above these tiny tremors, we still wouldn’t be able to feel them.

    These miniature earthquakes remind us that Mount Saint Helens is very much an alive and active volcano. These tremors are caused by the magma recharging and entering the volcano’s chamber, putting stress on the earth’s crust. So it’s not the shifting of tectonic plates after all; it’s the gathering of magma.

    Worried yet?

    Don’t be. Well, not yet, at least. Before the 1980 eruption of Mount Saint Helens, there were over 10,000 earthquakes leading up to that event. The USGS released a statement in that they believe “there is absolutely no sigh that it will erupt anytime soon.”

    Basically, Mount Saint Helens is an active volcano, and an eruption will come. Scientists just don’t know when. They say it could be years – or decades – away.

     

    The 1980 Eruption

    Mount Saint Helens Eruption - USGS Mount Saint Helens eruption, May 18, 1980 - Image courtesy of USGS

    On May 18, 1980, Mount Saint Helens blew off 1,000 feet of the mountain and, according to Tech Times, “unleashed massive quantities of rock, ash and debris into the air.” The blast cause 150,000 acres of fir trees to become flattened, and “triggered one of the largest landslides ever witnessed in recorded history.”

    About 540 million tons of ash was ejected into the sky during the nine hours of violent eruptions. Two days after the eruption, ash from the blast was found in the central United States. Within two weeks, ash from the eruption had made its way around the globe. Because of all the ash, crops in Eastern Washington had an estimated $100 million in loss. Despite the losses, however, the ash was at least somewhat beneficial in the long term, due to the trace elements and minerals contained in the ash that support plant growth.

     

    Prepare for Eruption

    Still, considering the power of the blast, it wasn’t as bad as it might have been. When Mount Saint Helens erupts again, however, there will still be problems, and being prepared is something we could all take seriously.

    How does one prepare for a volcano eruption, you ask?

    Car After Eruption Photographer Reid Blackburn's car after the eruption.

    Well, just like any disaster, you will want at least a 72 hour kit. This kit should have clean water, food, gear for warmth and sanitation, and other necessities that can keep you supported and safe for three or more days. Directly following a disaster, power could be out, water could be contaminated, and food could be scarce.  As we saw from the 1980 eruption, millions of dollars’ worth of food was lost. Likewise, many roads were closed and flights were cancelled due to dangerously low visibility. These conditions could affect your local markets, making it harder to get food. That’s why having an emergency supply of food and water is always a good idea.

    Mount Saint Helens is active, and it’s setting off lots of little earthquakes underneath the ground. While it could still be decades before we have to worry about it blowing its top (again), the key to staying safe is by being prepared, and the way to be prepared is to start today.

    No matter what major event you’re preparing for, you can use that prep for anything. And by being prepared in advance, you can save yourself a lot of discomfort in the future.

     

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  • 5 Types of Base Camp Shelters

    There are many reasons to setup a base camp shelter. Whatever your motivation, make sure you design and build one that meets your requirements and anticipates your needs. From underground bunkers to pine bough lean-tos, unique base camp shelters are needed for different scenarios.

    These five shelter types will cover most of your bases. Keep in mind that each shelter meets a different need. You may require more than one type for the scenario you are preparing for.

     

    1. Bunker

    Old abandoned bunker in forest - base camp

    This hidden shelter option has many advantages. Easily defensible, concealed, and well-fortified, a bunker shelter can provide safe and secluded base camp accommodations. Long-term food storage, rations, and other supplies can be easily concealed and kept safe until you need to access them. Bunkers can be equipped with generators and electricity, secure doors, multiple rooms, and other amenities of a permanent shelter.

    The size and location of a bunker may be limited by your access to land, and the amount of funds you are able to allocate to building one. Land, excavation, materials, and utilities can require a significant investment.

     

    1. Portable

    Portable shelters provide protection from the elements while allowing users to keep on the move. Trailers, tents, tarps, and tensioned fabric structures let you set up camp without having to own land, invest in excavating and building equipment, or devote a lot of time to building a permanent structure. Portable base camps should be designed for ease of setup and take-down, as well as stability in extreme weather events.

     

    1. Permanent

    Celtic Round House Base campA permanent base camp requires access to land and a significant investment in materials. Creating a permanent shelter is one of the most expensive base camp shelter options, but also one of the most comfortable and secure. A permanent shelter is more conspicuous than a bunker or a portable shelter. This type of shelter also provides many of the same amenities of a house. A permanent shelter may have running water, electricity, heating and cooling systems, and other comforts. It is important to remember that, unlike a bunker or a portable shelter, a permanent shelter will likely require a more established access route, such as a road, driveway, or established trail.

     

    1. Emergency

    An emergency shelter is necessary for quick and easy setup. This type of shelter is often located near a survival cache, and is meant as a temporary spot to regroup on the way to a more permanent base camp. An emergency shelter may also be required in an extreme weather event, such as a rainstorm, tornado, or blizzard. Emergency shelters can be crafted from many different materials. Having a tarp can make emergency shelter setup easy. If you aren’t that lucky, tree branches, rock outcroppings, or dry cave openings may have to suffice. Emergency shelters can be dug into the side of large snowdrifts, riverbanks, or small hills.  Survival caches setup ahead of time can also store tarps, ropes, and stakes in the event that an emergency shelter is needed.

     

    1. Semi-Permanent

    SafariTent_Open_Lifestyle_Moab_MattBarr_002_Web base campMore stable than an emergency shelter, yet not as immobile as a permanent one, a semi-permanent shelter can create a long-lasting, durable base camp that can be relocated or disassembled if necessary. Tensioned fabric structures can be anchored to nearly any surface to create a sturdy semi-permanent shelter. These types of shelters may have electricity and other utilities setup in mobile or temporary configurations.

     

    ______

    Jimmy Wall is an avid outdoorsman always advocating people to get outside. Living in Washington State, he says nothing is better than a climb up Mount Rainier to Camp Muir.

     

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  • Thanks for the Rain, Pineapple Express! (Got any more?)

    Finally. After an unexpectedly warm, dry February, the Pineapple Express has dumped enough rain and snow on northern California to bring reservoirs there up to average levels – the first time they’ve been that high since the drought began.

    Drought Monitor Released Thursday March 17, 2016 - Pineapple Express Drought Monitor - Released Thursday March 17, 2016

    This doesn’t mean the end of the state’s drought. The U.S. Drought Monitor’s latest report shows 55 percent of the state is still in extreme or exceptional drought. Groundwater is a major concern too. The state’s underground aquifers, which have been building their supply for hundreds or thousands of years, are being depleted far faster than they can be refurbished. Some of them have caved in and will never recover.

    The good news is the drought has been a wake-up call for the need to better manage water use.

    Here’s how some people are trying to save water.

    In California’s Central Valley, where a huge percentage of the food the U.S. eats is grown, declining aquifers have become a health hazard. Shallow municipal wells have gone dry as large agricultural companies draw down groundwater from deeper wells. This has left residents without water, or with polluted water.

    One problem is, when a lot of rain falls, the area doesn’t have enough surface storage, like reservoirs, to keep it, according to a story in the Christian Science Monitor. According to the story, George Goshgarian, an almond farmer in the San Joaquin Valley, is trying something new: flooding his almond orchards during the winter rainy season when his trees are dormant and don’t need the water.

    The idea is, the water will soak into the ground and hopefully some will trickle into the aquifer below. If he’s careful, the flooding shouldn’t hurt the trees because they are dormant. Then, during the drier growing season, the ground will have more moisture. And the aquifer below will have a bit more water.

    According to a study for the California Water Foundation that was cited in the story, groundwater in the southern San Joaquin is being depleted at a rate of 250,000 acre-feet per year on average. Using the rainy season’s runoff could reduce that amount between a third and a half, the study estimated.

    Homeowners and municipalities are also trying to figure out how to use rainwater runoff. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power last August presented a plan to capture more rainwater for the city.

    According to Andy Lipkis, president of Tree People, which advocates for sustainable urban water use, an inch of rain falling on Los Angeles represents 7.6 billion gallons of water. Half that runs off into the ocean, he said in a story in the Christian Science Monitor.

    The utility’s master plan suggests projects to capture water that range in size from major basins to individuals’ yards.

    Drip Irrigation - Pineapple ExpressThe yard of Carrie Wassenaar of North Hollywood, Calif., is a case study in how water catching works. As described in the Christian Science Monitor, her yard has drought-tolerant plants watered by a drip-irrigation system that uses rainwater. A depression in the yard allows water to pool and seep down to the aquifer below. The water comes from an above-ground cistern that collects rainfall from her roof.

    “You want to feel like you're at least trying to help with the solution instead of just contributing to the problem,” she said in the story.

    Ready.gov says the best way to prepare for a drought is to use less water beforehand. Here are some tips from ready.gov for saving water inside the home.

    Replace washers in dripping faucets and repair pipe leaks.

    “One drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water per year,” ready.gov said.

    Insulate water pipes. This will reduce heat loss, which means it’ll take less time to heat water from the tap.

    Install low-flow appliances, toilets, and shower heads. Some water districts will offer rebates to offset the cost.

    Instead of rinsing dishes and using the disposal, scrape dishes into the trash or compost.

    Lawns - Pineapple ExpressOutside, reduce the lawn and put in plants adapted to your climate. According to a study, lawns cover an estimated 50,000 square miles of the country. That makes lawns the biggest crop in America. And you can’t even eat them.

    Don’t water too much. Lawns only need about a half inch of water per week and less in the autumn and winter. If water’s running down the gutter, you’re using too much.

    Consider using grey water for outdoor watering. For information about installing a rain catching system, check out the web site for the American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association.

    Be aware of regulations when considering water-saving tools. California offered homeowners tax-free rebates of up to $2,000 to help homeowners pay for water-efficient yards. As of February, the state had spent $22 million in rebates. Unfortunately, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service is taxing those rebates as income.

     

    Drought Preparedness - Pineapple Express

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