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  • 3 Tornadoes Hit Utah in Two Days

    My family lived in Tornado Alley for almost five years. We saw wall clouds and sheltered in place more times than we could remember. But my eldest son didn't see his first funnel cloud until he was walking to school Friday, near that hotbed for tornadoes ... American Fork, Utah.

    tornado-utah-deseret-news Tornado forming in Utah - via Deseret News

    The tornado, which formed about 7:15 a.m. on September 23, was the third to hit Utah in two days. The other two hit near Ogden, Utah, about 61 miles away and Panguitch, Utah, about 214 miles away, the day before. Utah averages about 2.5 tornadoes per year according to the web site U.S. Tornadoes. In contrast, Texas averages 146.7 per year and Kansas 92.4.

    The tornado near Ogden, an F1 on the enhanced Fujita scale, caused more than $1.5 million in damage and made more than a dozen homes uninhabitable.

    Every state and nearly every county in the United States has seen tornadoes.

    Tornadoes can cross rivers, hills, and cities. Numerous tornadoes have crossed the Mississippi River.

    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. In Utah, most tornadoes form between May and September.

    So, knowing a tornado can hit almost anywhere in the United States, even though it’s near the end of the summer tornado season, here are some reminders of how to prepare for one.

    utah-damage-fox-13 Damages from tornado in Utah - via Fox 13 News

    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. They aren’t terribly expensive either, and we have some that don’t need a plug, in case of power loss. 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.

    • Strong, 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.

    Second, have a plan and a place to go. That place can be in a home, in a personal storm shelter or in a public storm shelter. State Farm has a list of recommended places to go within homes and buildings.

    Third, prepare a grab-and-go bag and personalize it with things like diapers and vital records. In the Washington Heights tornado near Ogden, one man told Utah’s Fox news affiliate that part of his home was destroyed and his neighbor’s garage blew over to his property. Hopefully he had a list of possessions and other vital information and hopefully he stored it away from his home or somewhere easy to grab. Vital information can include birth certificates, medical records and insurance information.

    Fourth, be prepared for more than just tornadoes. Many parts of Utah reported hail, power outages and flooding from the two-day storm.



  • Health in Hydration: Tips for Avoiding Dehydration

    Health in Hydration


    Summer or winter, spring or fall, staying hydrated is essential to maintaining good health. After all, water makes up the majority of our body weight. Countering dehydration is the best way to treat it, but before we get into that, let’s take a look at how dehydration can come about.


    How Dehydration Occurs

    Sweating, going to the bathroom, and even breathing are all contributing factors to losing water. Basically, the more that leaves your body, the faster you’ll become dehydrated. For example, diarrhea and vomiting can bring about rapid water loss. Hot climates and being physically active will also speed up the dehydration process. When losing water, be sure to replace it with more.


    Symptoms of Dehydration

    Dehydration Headaches are one sign of dehydration.

    Dehydration is more than just being really thirsty. Learn these symptoms so you will always know what your body is telling you, and when it’s time to take immediate action.

    • Dry mouth
    • Little/no urine, or darker than normal
    • Headache
    • Confusion
    • Dizziness
    • Fatigue


    Dangers of Dehydration

    Staying hydrated has many benefits, which means the adverse is also true. The National Institutes of Health has identified many ways in which dehydration hurts you.

    • Physical performance
    • Cognitive performance
    • Delirium
    • Gastrointestinal function
    • Kidney function
    • Heart function


    For more information regarding the dangers of dehydration, you can read the full study here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2908954/

    Some people are more prone to becoming dehydrated than others. The elderly are especially at risk, since as people age, they may not be able to recognize or sense the signs of dehydration. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should also be careful to remain hydrated. Others who are at greater risk of dehydration are people who are exercising, have a fever, or are trying to lose weight.


    Tips for Staying Hydrated

    Health in Hydration Dehydration

    The amount of water needed for proper hydration varies from person to person, but Ready.gov recommends about three quarters of a gallon of fluid daily for normally active people. Use that as a baseline and adjust depending on age, health, climate, and physical condition and activity.

    Sometimes you may need to be more conscientious about your water intake. If you find you have difficulties staying hydrated, try out some of these tips from the CDC and FamilyDoctor.org.

    • Don’t wait until you’re thirst – drink water constantly!
    • Avoid alcohol or sugary liquids
    • Keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day
    • Add a slice of lemon to your water – this improves the flavor and can help you drink more
    • Drink water when you’re hungry. Thirst can be confused with hunger, so try water first


    It’s more obvious that you need to be more careful about staying hydrated during the hot summer months, but you can still become dehydrated during the colder times. No matter what time of year it is, pay attention to what your body is telling you and take the necessary steps to always remain hydrated.


    What steps do you take to remain hydrated?


    Health Banner Dehydration

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  • Is the California Drought Really Making Headway?

    California is known for its stunning beaches, beautiful parks, and blistering drought.

    California Drought Monitor Aug 4, 2015But things have been much worse for California’s drought. Just last year, the majority of the state was either in exceptional or extreme drought (as seen here as the two shades of red). There was only a small sliver down in the southeast of the state that was just abnormally dry (yellow). The rest of the state was in at least some form of drought, much of it severe or worse. Things certainly were bad back then. But has it improved, or has it become even worse? Let's look at the current drought monitor.

    California Drought Monitor Aug 2, 2016As of August 4, 2016, there’s a lot more yellow, which is a good sign. Yellow means it’s just abnormally dry, not technically in drought conditions. A fair portion of the reds have turned orange or beige, signaling the extreme and exceptional drought conditions are dwindling.

    Yes, there is still quite a bit of exceptional drought in California, but by the looks of things, it is slowly dispersing. That being said, it’s nothing to celebrate. At least, not yet.

    Since Californians have done an excellent job at conserving water – they cut back water usage by 27.5% in June 2015 as compared with the 2013 baseline – many municipalities are lifting water restrictions. An article in the East Bay Times showed concern from water program director at the Pacific Institute, Heather Cooley. She said that today’s number of saved water is strong. However, Cooley has other concerns.

    “I’m concerned about the next several months and years,” she said. “The water we save now is water we can use later if we don’t get rains next winter.” She warned that caution should be exercised.

    As the drought monitor from August 2, 2016 suggests, there is still a fair amount of drought afflicting the Golden State, and there will undoubtedly still be quite some time yet before the drought is gone.

    Whether lifting much of the water restrictions in California is a good idea or not remains to be seen. However, it does look like there is still room for precautions. Just because the disaster is becoming less severe doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to stop being cautious – and this goes for all disasters. Just because the threat is subsiding doesn’t mean the threat is gone entirely.

    But, perhaps local officials know better. Whatever their source of knowledge, you can still do your part to save water and ultimately be prepared.


    Drought  monitor

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