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  • Drought Buster: Atmospheric Rivers Bring Drought Relief - and Disaster - to California

    Look at these two pictures from the United States Drought Monitor. This first is from a year ago. The entire state was in some level of drought, and almost half was in the highest level (exceptional drought – rust colored).

     

    California Drought 2016 atmospheric river California Drought as of January 12, 2016
    California Drought 2017 atmospheric river California Drought as of January 10, 2017

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Compare this year’s map. Everywhere north of Sacramento is drought-free. Only 2 percent of the state is in exceptional drought.  Since January 1, Lake Tahoe’s water level has risen almost a foot – 33.6 billion gallons, according to the National Weather Service.

    The January storms that brought this remarkable turnaround also wreaked havoc. They:

    Caused at least five deaths.

    atmospheric river Pioneer Cabin Tree toppled in storm - image via Mercury News

    Toppled the "Pioneer Cabin" tree in Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Calif. The still-living giant sequoia had a tunnel, cut in the 1880s, that tourists could walk through.

    Caused the Truckee River to overflow its banks, flooding Reno, Nev. suburbs and polluting drinking water in Storey County, Nev.

    Closed ski resorts in California, Nevada, and Colorado when too much snow created hazardous driving and avalanche conditions.

    Dumped 35 inches of rain on California’s central coast. San Francisco has already seen more precipitation in 2017 than it did in all of 2013.

    Caused blizzard wind measuring 174 mph at Squaw Valley in the Sierra Nevada mountains on Jan. 8.

    Forced evacuation of several northern California towns because of flooding.

    Forced managers of the Yuba River to manually open a dam’s floodgates for the first time in 10 years to prevent flooding in downtown Sacramento.

    All of these events are is the product of a common weather phenomenon that drives between a third and a half of the precipitation in the western United States: atmospheric rivers.

    Imagine a high-altitude fire hose. It’s not constant, but once it forms, it can stretch thousands of miles long (and tens to hundreds of miles wide). It can carry water vapor equivalent to 15 times the flow at the mouth of the Mississippi River, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    As this flow interacts with a low-pressure storm system or runs into a mountain range, it brings a blast of precipitation that can last for days. Frequently, these systems follow each other.

    One NOAA author called atmospheric rivers “drought busters,” because just a few such storms can break up droughts.

    So this year’s series of atmospheric rivers have been a great boon to bone-dry California. Yet they haven’t brought as much rain to the southern part of the state. And they bring devastating flooding.

    In 1861, rain started falling on Sacramento, Calif., on Christmas day, and stopped 43 days later, according to a story from a NBC Bay Area affiliate. The state legislature had to move for six months because the city was submerged under 10 feet of water. California’s Central Valley – its bread basket – flooded, and the San Francisco Bay filled with so much fresh rainwater that its wildlife struggled, according to the story.

    It was an extreme version of the most common atmospheric river to affect the western United States: the Pineapple Express (no relation to the movie), nicknamed such because it often forms in the Pacific near Hawaii.

    Another atmospheric river storm that began December 29, 1996, dumped more than two feet of water in many northern California locations, killed two people and caused $1.6 billion in damages.

    They’re not just confined to the west. An atmospheric river was behind massive flooding in March 2016 in Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma.

    And two more are forecast to hit California this week.

    Atmospheric rivers can bring all kinds of wild weather. So look around, think about what one might do to your area, and plan accordingly.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner Atmospheric River

  • Is Prepping on the Decline?

    Stock Market statistics Decline

    There was a time when being prepared for emergencies was a national past time. The Great Depression all but forced people to live within (and less than) their means, and save everything they could. Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, even more people saw the benefits of preparing and began building up supplies. Then there was the stock market crash of 2008, forcing countless Americans to live off what they had. Some had stored up enough with which to subsist until a new job or other means could be found. Many others struggled.

    Then the world was supposed to end in 2012 as predicted by the Mayans. Before the predicted date arrived, more and more people began stockpiling food, water, and gear…just in case. The world still stands, but that didn’t stop countless others from investing even more in emergency prep in the months before the 2015 blood moon tetrad.

    Preppers kept on prepping since then. That is, right up until election day. According to some sources, prepping is on a decline as people let their guard down with Donald Trump about to become president. They trust him to boost the economy, to produce jobs, and make everything awesome. Whether that will happen or not has yet to be seen (fingers crossed). But even if he does make everything awesome, that doesn’t mean we’re done prepping.

    Natural disasters don’t really care how good our economy is. Massive earthquakes, super tornadoes, category 5 hurricanes, and the biggest, baddest snowstorms can be debilitating. Even smaller disasters can leave you without power, water, and other comforts for an extended period of time.

    Family Dinner Decline

    Stocking up for the unexpected is more than just preparing for the stock market to crash (although also important). True, the Dow Jones has never been higher, and the market is looking good. So money might not be as big an issue as it has been in the past. But what about water storage, just in case your water get shut off? Broken water mains and other issues can do that without warning. Will your food storage be enough to see you through a hurricane if you can’t make it to the store? Or what about a way to warm yourself (and your family) when your power goes out during a blizzard? Or will you have sufficient food in your storage to get you by following a job loss until you can get yourself back on your feet? The list goes on.

    There are so many reasons why being prepared is a good idea. Don’t leave your safety and well-being up to fate. Just like any good ship, make sure you have a life boat. Nobody goes out expecting their ship to sink (Titanic, anyone?), but if your good fortunes do spring a leak, make your you have a lifeboat handy.

     

    Disaster_Blog_Banner Decline

  • Keep Your Nutrition Stored for the Long Term

    It’s a brand new year, and time for the customary list of New Year’s resolutions. Raise your hand if you have “lose weight” as a New Year’s resolution … again? (I won’t mention how many years it’s been on my list.)

    Last week, U.S. News and World Report ranked 38 popular diet plans. All of the best plans had one thing in common: an emphasis on fruit and vegetables.

    veggies nutrition

    “People who eat more vegetables and fruits as part of an overall healthy diet are likely to have a reduced risk of some chronic diseases. Vegetables provide nutrients vital for health and maintenance of your body,” says choosemyplate.gov, a U.S. Department of Agriculture site to promote healthy, nutrition-rich eating.

    Let’s call it how it is: fresh food is almost always better for you. However, what if you’re in a survival situation where fresh food is hard to come by? Or, what if you want the convenience of pre-packaged foods without all the additives? Freeze-dried foods and canned foods can help fill those needs.

    For example, let’s take this recipe, from the Mayo Clinic, for the DASH diet and the Mayo Clinic diet. The DASH diet was ranked the best by U.S. News and World Report experts. The Mayo Clinic diet was ranked fourth. By the way, I’m not promoting any diet plan. How can I promote something I can’t stay on?

    Here’s the original recipe:

     

    shepherdspie3col nutritionShepherd's Pie

    By Mayo Clinic Staff

    Serves 6

    Ingredients

    2 medium russet potatoes, cut into nickel-sized cubes

    1 teaspoon olive oil

    1/2 cup chopped onions

    1/2 cup chopped carrots

    1 pound lean ground beef

    1/2 pound ground turkey breast

    1 tablespoon tomato paste

    1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary

    1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme

    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

    1/4 teaspoon black pepper

    2 cups chicken stock

    1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed

    1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed

    1 cup skim milk

    1 tablespoon butter

    1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

    Directions

    Heat the oven to 400 F. Place the potatoes in a medium pot with water and bring to a boil.

    While the potatoes are cooking, heat oil over medium heat. Sautee the onions and carrots until tender. Add the beef and turkey. Break apart the meat and stir frequently. When the meat is thoroughly cooked, add the tomato paste, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Add the stock and cook for 10 minutes; stir in the peas and corn. Cook the mixture down until most of the stock is absorbed; place the mixture in a casserole dish.

    When potatoes are soft, drain off the water. Then return potatoes to the pot over medium heat. Add the milk, butter and salt. Using an electric mixer or potato masher, mash the potatoes to a smooth consistency. Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the top of the meat mixture and bake for 20 minutes or until slightly golden brown around the edges. Serve hot.

     

    Now, let’s say you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to chop up onions, potatoes and carrots. You’re just mashing the potatoes. Instant mashed potatoes might be the fastest substitute, because they contain milk, salt, pepper, and butter flavor. If you don’t like the additives, consider using freeze-dried potatoes, which contain salt. Other food storage-based options include rinsed canned potatoes.

    To save more time, use freeze-dried onions, and carrots, which are already cut.

    Nearly all the ingredients in this recipe can be kept on shelves in food storage. So even if you’re, say, in a tough period and need to use food storage, you still have healthy food.

    Potatoes contain potassium, and diets with a lot of potassium may help keep healthy blood pressure, according to ChooseMyPlate.gov.

    In addition to giving strong flavor, one onion has only 63 calories, and provides up to 20 percent of daily requirement of vitamin C, according to WebMD.

    One carrot provides 200 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin A, according to WebMD.

    According to WebMD, a ¾ cup serving of peas has more protein than a whole egg or a tablespoon of peanut butter, less than one gram of fat and no cholesterol.

    Now, a caveat to replacing fresh food with preserved. When you buy food for storage, check the labels. A lot of canned and dried foods have added salt and sugar. If you use something like beans canned with salt, rinse them well first.

     

    Blog Image nutrition

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