Spring is finally here which means warmer temperatures, green grass and colorful flowers. It also means changing weather conditions and in some areas of the country, rain. Lots and lots of rain. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is advising Americans to prepare this spring for another round of potentially disastrous flooding of the kind that devastated much of Louisiana, Missouri and Texas late December/early January.
Individuals and families are advised take certain precautions in flood prone areas. These precautions are simple, but they are steps that could save your life.
- Familiarize yourself with the terms weather forecasters use to describe your area’s risk for flooding. A “Flood Watch” means a flood or flash flood is a possibility for your area. A “Flood Warning” means a flash flood or flooding has already occurred or is imminent for your location.
- Ensure your house is stocked with emergency supplies such as a Home Survival Kit that contains a 72 hour supply of non-perishable food and water, emergency lighting, Mylar blankets, first aid items, and a hand-crank/solar powered weather radio in the likely event the power is out. Maintaining communication during a flood event is crucial in ensuring you and your family can safely evacuate to higher ground without encountering closed roads or other deterrents. Your kit should also contain an emergency gas/water shut-off utility tool, medications, food/water for your pets and an extra set of weather appropriate clothing.
- Once a Flood Watch has been issued for your area, monitor changing weather conditions by tuning into your local news station or a NOAA weather band radio. Get yours here
- If a Flood Warning is issued in your area, don’t delay, head to higher ground via the safest evacuation route.
- Don’t travel through flooded roadways. According to Tom Graziano of NOAA, “flooding is the number one cause of weather-related deaths in the U.S.” Standing water on roadsides can be deceptive. A car can be quickly carried away in only 2 feet of water. Don’t succumb to this avoidable dilemma. Turn around, don’t drown!
- Ensure your home is adequately covered for flood damage. Check out FloodSmart.gov for more information.
Parts of Texas and the Midwest are already experiencing torrential flooding. Houston, TX declared a State of Emergency this weekend after a foot of rain fell on the city in a matter of hours. Evacuations are currently taking place and search and rescue operations are in effect.
Communities along the Mississippi and Missouri River basins, parts of the southeastern U.S. from Alabama to North Carolina and low-lying areas in the Ohio River basin and the Tennessee and Cumberland River Valleys are also at risk.
NOAA announced a precipitation outlook for April through June warning of above-average precipitation for these additional areas:
- Most of California
- Gulf Coast
It is going to be a wet spring. Prepare, be vigilant and stay safe.
Credits: Red Cross Flood Safety
Historically, records show an influx of school shootings occur in the month of April prompting authorities and educators nationwide to re-evaluate their disaster preparedness plans. Experts tracking school shooting incidents theorize that many such disasters occur in April because some armed intruders want to copy or venerate what other shooters have previously done, or memorialize a date in history. Tragic school shootings that have occurred in April include:
- Parker Middle School shootings – April 24, 1998
- Columbine shootings – April 20, 1999
- Virginia Tech shootings – April 16, 2007
- Oikos University shootings – April 2, 2012
Many schools take this time to conduct preparedness/lockdown drills so students and faculty are prepared for an active shooter situation. Schools are also communicating with parents about their disaster plans in the event of an emergency. It is heartbreaking to contemplate kids in elementary school practicing how to hide from an armed gunman, but unfortunately today’s society dictates the importance of preparing for the unexpected. Tragically, the rate of mass shootings in the U.S. has tripled since 2011 and seemingly occur almost every week. It is not a matter of if, but when the next shooting will happen at a school, a church or office building.
The below basic disaster preparedness guidelines can be adapted for any organization:
The days between April 14th and 20th are filled with historic tragedies that prompt people and organizations to be wary of potential disasters. These include the fatal shooting of Abraham Lincoln, the San Francisco earthquake that killed 3,000 people and the sinking of the Titanic. Other disasters that have occurred in April include the Boston Marathon terrorist bombings and the Oklahoma City bombings. It is believed that the birthday of Adolph Hitler on April 20 sometimes prompts extremists to consider violent action or terrorist acts. We must all work together to make sure that our families, workplaces and classrooms are sufficiently prepared so that when the worst does happen, we will be “prepared, not scared.”
Snow covered neighborhood
Forecasters predict that ice and snow in winter 2015-16 will hit hard across much of the United States dumping blizzards down upon major U.S. cities, including areas normally not impacted by icy cold. Weather experts are advising people to prepare for the worst that nature can deliver this winter season. These predictions are surely sending shivers through those who survived one of the worst winters to ever hit the East Coast last year.
Few people can forget winter’s icy bombshell totaling 100 inches of snow in Boston in early 2015, or the seven feet of snow that crippled Buffalo, New York in December 2014. Thousands of homeowners and motorists feared for their lives when they were stranded, and hundreds of thousands were without power for days. For those of us last year who only experienced the snow and extreme cold via our television sets, we might not be so lucky this year. Forecasters are predicting ice and snow will impact much of the United States this winter.
What signs are pointing towards this being one of the worst recorded winters in history? The Old Farmer’s Almanac, a venerable publication founded in 1792 and North America’s oldest continuously published periodical, has traditionally been used by farmers and forecasters to determine a baseline for the year’s weather. This winter’s predictions call for above-normal snow and below-normal temperatures for New England, icy conditions in parts of the South and frigid weather in the Midwest. Snowiest periods in the Pacific Northwest will begin as early as mid-December.
The presence of El Niño is also causing forecasters to prompt warnings of a colder than usual winter season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports that this year’s El Niño is among the strongest on record. El Niño will influence this winter’s weather and climate patterns by impacting the position of the Pacific jet stream. “While temperature and precipitation impacts associated with El Niño are favored, El Niño is not the only player,” NOAA reports. “Snow forecasts are dependent upon the strength and track of winter storms, which are generally not predictable more than a week in advance.” Unpredictability until a few days before a really bad blizzard hits is one reason why experts are advising people to prepare for the worst and the potential of being stranded in their homes or vehicles.
How do you plan for the worst?
The American Red Cross and Quake Kare recommend that preparing for severe winter weather (snow, ice and extreme cold), at a minimum, should include having at hand the basic supplies below. These should be kept both in your home and your vehicle.
• Water—one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation)
• Food—non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation)
• Battery-powered or hand-crank radios
• Extra batteries
• First aid kits
• Baby supplies, including food and diapers
• Pet supplies, including food and water
• Basic medications and medical items
• Multi-purpose tool
• Sanitation and personal hygiene items
• Cell phone with chargers
• Family and emergency contact information
• Emergency blanket
• Maps of the area
Remember, the best way to stay safe in severe winter weather is to monitor your local forecast, stock your home with emergency supplies and stay home when the roads are slick. Only go out if absolutely necessary and make sure you have a basic car survival kit with you. Stay safe and warm this winter season!
For expert advice, contact Quake Kare toll-free at 1 800 2Prepare (1-800-277-3727).
March through August is tornado season in the United States, where some 1,000 tornadoes hit every year. Be prepared. Tornadoes are more powerful than any other storm: They can toss freight trains like toys and throw your house down the block.
If you live in one of the top ten tornado states identified in order below, be smart and prepare yourself and your family for unexpected disaster:
- Florida is hit by more tornadoes than any other state in the U.S. and, also, also by more severe thunderstorms than any state.
- Oklahoma is the heart of what meteorologists call Tornado Alley. Its weather patterns often make warm and cool air collide — ideal for creating tornadoes and damaging thunderstorms.
- Kansas is where a mammoth twister whisked Dorothy and her little dog Toto to Oz, but it’s also where thousands of people are caught unprepared for damaging storms every year.
- Iowa was clobbered by 28 tornadoes in 2013 and averages of about 50 damaging thunderstorms every year.
- Illinois experienced one of its deadliest years on record for tornadoes in 2013. Storms generated widespread flooding and cut power in more than 160,000 homes and businesses.
- Indiana ranks second in the nation for the costs of tornado damage, sixth for the number of deaths and seventh for the number of personal injuries.
- Mississippi averages 29 tornadoes per year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Its coastal regions are hit by devastating hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico.
- Maryland ranks in the Tornado Top Ten because of its mid-south and Atlantic Ocean weather patterns generate many twisters and serious thunderstorms.
- Louisiana ranks second in the U.S. for the most thunderstorms annually and as a result, and averages 37 tornadoes per year.
- Texas averages 155 tornadoes per year – the most of any state — but its land mass is so large it ranks 10th in the U.S. per tornadoes every 10,000 square miles.
Posted in climate change, disaster, emergency, Emergency Preparedness, Extreme Weather, extreme weather, homes, Tornadoes
Tagged NOAA, severe weather, tornado preparedness, tornado safety, Tornadoes
You probably already have your emergency kit (and if you don’t, you should!), but FEMA offers lots of resources to help us be better prepared for emergencies and disasters. With September being National Preparedness Month, they have some extra activities to encourage people to prepare.
The 30 Days 30 Ways preparedness challenge is one of those activities. The goal is to help communities to be better prepared by giving people one new preparedness task each day. This is a fun way to get you into a preparedness mindset and you can win great prizes by playing along.
Want to play? Check out the game rules and then jump in. You can play as much as you want so don’t be intimidated thinking you must commit to playing every day if you’re not able. But if you can, you’ll feel better prepared and closer to your community. Encourage your friends, neighbors and family members to play as well. You’ll be helping them to be better prepared, too.
Ready to learn more? Check out this video and then visit 30 Days 30 Ways to participate.
Image credit: 30 Days 30 Ways