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  • 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!


  • Record Breaking Tornados Hit the Midwest

    Midwest Tornados

    According to CBS News, several late-season tornadoes hit the Midwestern United States on Sunday, November 17th, 2013. The biggest impact of the storm was felt in Illinois, where at least six people have been confirmed dead and hundreds of homes were flattened. The Chicago Tribune states, “Since 1986, there have been 194 tornado warnings issued in the month of November in Illinois: More than half of them, 101, were issued Sunday, according to the Chicago Weather Center.”

    After interviewing National Weather Service Meteorologist Tom Skilling, the Chicago Tribune quoted him as saying, "It appears the storm may have produced the most powerful Illinois November tornado on record outside of St. Louis (and possibly elsewhere) and may be one of the four most intense Great Lakes storms of the past five decades." But Illinois was not the only state affected by this massive storm.

    The storm traveled through parts of Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky on Sunday night. These tornadoes were accompanied by hail and damaging winds, knocking out the power in several communities across these states. At least 75,000 people lost power in the Chicago area and many are still without it.

    To learn more about the Midwest tornadoes, check out these links.



  • Windstorm Preparedness—Lessons from the European Storms

    Windstorms can cause all types of emergencies

    In the nine months that I lived in the UK, I saw some pretty rotten weather, but nothing like the windstorm that battered Europe last week. The NY Times reported 99 mile-per-hour gusts, the most severe wind to hit the continent since 1987. Power outages, infrastructural damage, halted public transportation, and (thankfully few) deaths have been reported, and it will likely be a while before the full extent of the damage is calculated.

    Windstorms, like the one that hit Europe last week, require more specialized preparation than simply having an emergency kit and lots of batteries. Most windstorm-related fatalities result from fallen trees, with loose debris (rocks, bricks, etc.). Thus, windstorms also require you to make preparations around your home (securing items that may fall) and your surrounding property to make sure damages are minimal.

    The following resources can help you prepare yourself, your property, and your neighborhood against the possibility of a severe autumn windstorm and other emergency situations:

    • Our insight articles can help you learn how to prepare for, react to, and bounce back from a disaster.

    • The Mother Nature Network has a simple, straightforward list of ten tips for preparing for tornadoes, wind, and hailstorms.

    • FM Global, an East Coast insurance company, provides an extremely thorough checklist  for neighborhood ERTs, individual properties, and families.

    • My home state of Washington is fairly accustomed to the seasonal windstorm. This wa.gov brochure lists what to do before, during, and after a storm.

    This seattle.gov one-sheet is a slimmed down version of the same info.

    Although many of us may live in parts of the world we consider safe from the dramatic weather events—tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes—that routinely plague other places, we should still prepare just in case. Mother Nature is nothing if not fickle, and reminds us over and over the importance of preparedness.

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