Tag Archives: natural disasters

  • Lake Effect and Ice Storms: The Right and Left Jabs of Winter

    Winter storm Hektor is raising heck this week, sweeping snow and ice from the Ohio Valley clear down to Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas, while weather-weary New Yorkers are still digging out from up to 5 feet of lake-effect snow dumped along the eastern shores of Lake Ontario last weekend. Throughout the East, Midwest, and South area officials are urging residents to prepare for extreme cold, power outages, and road closures that could last for days.

    Every winter we hear about them: lake-effect snowfall and ice storms—the one-two punch of winter weather that affects millions. But what are these brutal weather phenomena, and what destruction do they leave in their wake?

    What is a Lake-Effect Storm?

    Folks living on the eastern and southern shores of the Great Lakes are quite familiar with the dreaded “Lake Effect,” as are residents of northern Utah living east of the Great Salt Lake. In fact, wherever a large body of water meets a blast of cold air, you have the recipe for a dumping of lake-effect snow. Caused by simple physics, these uncommonly heavy snowfalls occur when warm, moist air over a lake rises into a moving front of cold air. As this moisture lifts, it cools, condenses, and then falls as snow, and lots of it…often as much as 5 inches an hour for several hours.
    Just before last Thanksgiving, Buffalo, New York was pounded by just such a lake-effect storm, receiving up to 5 feet of snow in only 24 hours. Cars were buried, roofs collapsed, and roads were closed. Life came to a standstill for everyone except the snowplow drivers.

    Lake Effect Snow: How It Works

    How are Ice Storms Different from Lake Effect Storms?

    As dramatic as lake-effect snowstorms can be, ice storms are even more destructive. Ice storms are caused by conditions almost exactly opposite those of lake-effect storms. They occur when warm, moist air above moves over a cold air mass below. As the moisture above turns to rain, it falls through the cold air, becoming super-cooled until it hits the cold ground. Immediately the rain turns to ice, coating everything including roads, trees, and power lines. Havoc on the freeway, downed power lines, and trees falling onto roads and houses are only the beginning of an ice storm’s chaos. Unable to open doors, people become trapped in their cars. Crops are severely damaged. Walking outdoors is near impossible.
    If the inconvenience of such weather events is not bad enough, these types of storms become a real health hazard. Thousands of injuries occur on the highway, as well as the result of falls on ice and snow. High winds and cold temperatures often lead to hypothermia and frostbite, particularly for those trapped in their cars, or at home without heat and power. Risk from these hazards increases as people are forced to venture into the storm to find help.

    Freezing Rain: How It Works

    So What Can You Do to Stay Safe, Fed, and Warm?

    While the health and welfare of thousands are threatened by lake-effect and ice storms every winter, many endure them well. Those who thrive best are those best prepared. A three-day store of easy-to-prepare food and water will relieve concerns about leaving home to stay fed. Emergency lighting and a heater with fuel will be warmly welcomed during extended power outages. And a portable kit filled with food, water light, and heat in the car and at the office will make both places much more pleasant until it’s safe to come home.

    For all, it’s wise to remember: wherever you are, bad weather will eventually find you, too. Be Prepared.

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: natural disasters, Current Events, Winter

  • 6.1 Magnitude Earthquake Rocks China

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    Earthquake damage in Southwest China, August 2014, Photo Courtesy of CNN.com

     

    On Sunday, August 3rd, China’s Yunnan province saw the most devastating earthquake since 1970. According to the US Geological Survey, a 6.1 (China’s own equipment is calling it a 6.5) earthquake was recorded at 4:30pm in the agricultural region known as Ludian. On August 7th, AP reported about 615 known fatalities and 3,143 injured, though those numbers may continue to  increase as first responders progress through the rubble.

    Particularly disastrous in this case is the age and instability of the brick structures prevalent in the region. One volunteer quoted by the Huffington Post estimates that about half the buildings in the area have collapsed completely, with countless more damaged and uninhabitable, resulting in an evacuee count of almost 30,000. To make matters worse, power and communications have been wiped out, and rainstorms are hampering rescue efforts and the distribution of relief supplies.

    We’re keeping an eye on this and will report in the future on possible ways to help. In the meantime, the hard lesson for the rest of us has to do with broad spectrum preparation. Knowing what to do in the event of an earthquake is an important first step, but just as important is having a protected stock of supplies, an alternate means of communication, and the know-how to survive when the grid is down.

    Our article, “How to Prepare for an Earthquake,” contains several links to other useful lists, posts, and resources that teach everything from what to put in an earthquake emergency kit to what to do before, during, and after a quake. And as a supplement to those, “Earthquakes and Your Mental Health” emphasizes the role of preparation in the management of stress and trauma.

     

    Keep China in your thoughts and prayers, and make sure your home and family are prepared for the big one!

     

    -Stacey

     

    Sources

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/04/china-earthquake_n_5646867.html

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20140807/as--china-earthquake/?utm_hp_ref=world&ir=world

    http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/06/world/asia/china-earthquake-deaths/

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, natural disasters, Current Events, Earthquake

  • Deadly Twisters in New York

    Deadly Twisters in New York

    Tornados are in the news again. This time it’s the Northeast that’s getting the worst of it. Just this month, four people were killed in upstate New York as a twister whipped through the small town of Smithfield. NBC news is calling it the “state’s second deadliest” tornado since the 1950s—truly off the charts for a state that typically sees smaller category tornados and rarely sustains this kind of damage from them.

    According to the AP, Smithfield’s tornados were actually part of a larger storm system battering the region and  leaving more than 350,000 homes without power. You can see a slideshow of the damage to New York and even some parts of Pennsylvania here.

    Apparently, storm and tornado season varies from region to region, with twisters showing up most frequently in the spring down South, and moving up to the Midwest and Northeast through the summer. I’ll let the smart people at weather.com explain why. The same smart people also have a super cool map of tornado risk by month and region, in case you want to check on your area or nail down vacation plans.

    Anyhow, we’re keeping a weather eye on the storms with NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center, reading back up on “Preparing for a Tornado,” and hoping everyone’s staying safe!

     

    --Stacey

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: Preparedness In The News, natural disasters, tornadoes, Current Events, Tornado

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