While this is not really a weather hazard right now, DC forecasters have been watching the weather patterns and are predicting storms in the evening over the next couple days. Residents of Virginia already know that a hot a humid day typically turns into a stormy and wet night so this prediction is not out of the ordinary for the state. What is different is the fact that there is a chain of storms heading this way from the South (Texas).
The same storm that has spurred tornadoes in Texas and dumped endless rain in Missouri and Arkansas is heading this way. Forecasters in that region are expecting this chain of thunderstorms to make it to New York by Monday evening which puts the chance of thunderstorms for us somewhere between Monday evening and early Tuesday morning.
A LOOK AHEAD
Out ahead of a storm system wrapping up over the central part of the country, we stay in the warm air going into Monday. Skies should start off with plenty of sun, but clouds increase during the afternoon as a front approaches from the west. There could be a line of showers and storms in the afternoon, although at this point, it looks as though that risk could hold off until the evening or overnight, which would diminish the intensity. Highs should reach at least 80 most spots, and perhaps as high as the mid-80s. Confidence:Medium
The main storm and front have passed for Tuesday, but cooler air lags a bit. With a west wind off the mountains, it’s still warm. Highs are near 80. Clouds may increase in the afternoon with cold air floating by aloft. Confidence: Medium
At the time this article was written (Saturday morning), the storm was passing through Kentucky and Tennessee. In Virginia (or DC, to be more specific), we experienced a very hot a humid day with overcast skies. An early morning shower added to the humidity in the air. By the end of the day, the sun came out strong to finish the day. Sunday morning was equally hot and humid but more sunny. Since the storms are expected to arrive Monday evening, the article mentioned that the cooler temperatures will lessen the intensity of our expected impact.
After tornadoes ripped through northern Texas on Saturday evening, the states of Alabama all the way up to Indiana can expect to see sever thunderstorms going into Sunday night. The storm, the same one who generated the tornadoes for Texas and Oklahoma, is moving in a northeast direction and is expected to bring storms into New York by Monday evening. With this system, the hazards expected are as follows:
Possible river-flooding on side-streets
The storm is fueled from the heat and humidity typical to these states. Unfortunately, this storm is coming on the heels of another one that passed through the same projected regions last weekend.
Last night (Saturday evening), five people were killed in the four confirmed tornadoes in Texas. All of the deaths occurred in Van Zandt county. In addition to the five deaths, fifty people were injured while the storm caused significant property damage to houses and businesses.
People in the projected path are being urged to keep track of the storm and the weather radar to know if and when they can expect any weather hazards.
There were many factors that contributed to the dust bowl that hit Guymon, OK, and surrounding areas multiple times in the 1930’s. A big factor was the extreme drought leading up to the event. The drought caused all vegetation to die, including the topsoil in Guymon that was being farmed. It was not one big drought though, what made the most impact was the 4 consecutive extreme droughts that did not give the area enough time to recover from the previous drought. The droughts occurred before and during the Dust Bowl, which contributed to how long the event lasted. The four droughts occurred during 1930-31, 1934, 1936, and 1939-40 (National Drought Mitigation Center, 2017) and was a secondary event that caused the primary event of the Dust Bowl.
The drought was also accompanied by extremely high temperatures and high winds. The drought and the high temperatures killed off all remaining vegetation and then the high winds caused the dusty ground to fly up into the air and accumulate into a massive cloud. The over farming in the region caused the topsoil to disintegrate to the point of very little to no topsoil. When the topsoil disintegrated there was nothing for grass to grow on or act as a cover for the dirt. The combination of the three main factors caused desert-like conditions (PBS Community Idea Stations, 2010) for 10 years in the Midwest.
The risk for this hazard is low now because when people stopped farming there and moved out the environment was able to regrow. Then when the grass began to grow and topsoil reformed the extreme dust clouds stopped. There is still Haboobs but most are more natural and expected, less extreme and considered minor. The advancement in knowledge and technology has been taken advantage of so we make sure this doesn’t happen again. Since this disaster was largely man made we can do more to stop it and make sure we don’t erode the soil that much ever again, especially because people are educated about this hazard and the right way to farm. This education has come through human experience and education starting at a young age about how to farm efficiently and more environmentally friendly.
Now if the people in Guymon were to encounter high winds, high temperatures, and drought, they would be more adequately prepared. We have more education regarding vegetation and topsoil now. We have also put up precautions in place precautions for drought, like damming up rivers for a steadier source of water. The only true mitigation was the advancement of technology and human knowledge, along with ecosystem recovery.
My case study was the 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. This was the worst catastrophes in Japanese histories resulting in almost 16,000 deaths and 2,500 people still missing to this day. It was on March 11, 2011, and began with an earthquake in a subduction zone just off the shore of Japan along a fault line that caused a massive tsunami. The earthquake lasted about 6 minutes and had a magnitude of 9.1and the tsunami had a height of 128 feet above sea level and flooded about 217 square miles inland, including the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. This created a third disaster because the tsunami flooded 3 cooling towers and shut down all power and back up generators.
The resilience of the Japanese was astonishing during this catastrophe because it didn’t take as long as one may think for them to recover. Just one year after the disaster, they were still cleaning up debris, but they had already began restoring buildings and searching for people. I believe that it has to do with the Women’s World Cup because just a few months after the earthquake-tsunami double team they won the World Cup against the United States in penalties. There’s many sources that show a positive shock to the economy after a country wins the World Cup where the entire economy will spike for a short period of time. The disaster destroyed their economy, but winning the World Cup made up the difference for the citizens, as well as boosting morale so they knew they could make it through.
What’s interesting about this case, aside from a horrible chain reaction that no one could have predicted, was that Japan is equipped very well with preventative measures for natural disasters, but for they weren’t prepared for one of this magnitude. Japan has a system in place that shuts down all public transportation and factories when a disaster occurs, as well as sending out a warning text message to every citizen, which during this disaster the text went out just one minute before the disaster that helped save more lives. There was a lot of lives lost, but if they didn’t have the system set in place, it would have been worse.
Many deaths were caused by drowning, but there were also many fires that started and nuclear issues because of the Power Plant meltdown. This was a horrible catastrophe that took many lives and caused many injuries, but the people of Japan still recovered well. If they learned anything from this, it’s that they should look into more signs because there were some signs that the hazard would be this bad, but no one believed it. Officials only thought the earthquake would be much smaller and didn’t expect the tsunami to be that big as well. They also should adjust their preventative measures and increase their resiliency.
May 22, 1960 marks the date of the most powerful earthquake ever recorded, in terms of the moment magnitude scale. This case study will investigate the causes behind the seismic event, the geography of it and the secondary effects that resulted.
In order to engage with the nature of seismology, the reader must have a clear understand of what a subduction zone constitutes. In an article for Live Science magazine, Becky Oskin says that a “subduction zone is the biggest crash scene on Earth” that takes place over millions of years (Oskin, 2015). When the much denser oceanic plate pushes against the less dense continental one, subduction forces the oceanic plate to bend underneath the other, causing the formation of volcanoes, tsunamis and the earth’s largest earthquakes. Figure 1 illustrates the subduction zone created by the oceanic Nazca plate’s collision into the South American continental plate. The Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire” outlines a massive series of subduction zones that are responsible for a large percentage of the earth’s most dangerous seismic events today, as depicted in Figure 2.  Oskin compares the subducting collision of two tectonic plates to rubbing sandpaper together, in that “the crust sticks in some places, storing up energy that is released in earthquakes” (Oskin, 2015). Since subduction zones create the largest faults in the world, they directly correlate with the most dramatically powerful earthquakes. Along the Peru-Chile trench, created by the subduction of the Nazca plate under the South American one, is one of the world’s largest and most active faults.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, at 10:02 UTC (around in the morning local time) lasted for 35 seconds but it would devastated one-third of the buildings in Concepción, reaching 8.1 on the moment magnitude scale (USGS, 2016). This initial earthquake would kill 150 people, according to an article published immediately following the event by William E. Rudolph, and it marked the beginning of “ten days of terror” that would ultimately leave 1000 dead and 350,000 homeless (Rudolph, 1960). The second quake would occur slightly over 24 hours later, at 10:30 UTC in the Nahuelbuta National Park, just south of Concepción, reaching 7.1 mw (USGS, 2016). The third would come the next day at 18:56 UTC in the same area, totaling 7.8 mw (USGS, 2016). As powerful and destructive that the three Concepción earthquakes were, they would come to alert the rest of the population for what would come.
Roughly 15 minutes after the 7.8 mw earthquake south of Concepción, at 15:11 local time, the town of Valdivia would endure 11 uninterrupted minutes of seismic shaking (Seismo Blog, 2015). USGS shows the epicenter of the 9.5 mw earthquake situated on the coast just east of Lleulleu Lake, which was actually several hundred kilometers directly north of Valdivia, which appears in Figure 3 (USGS, 2016). Using the previous system, the Richter scale, the moment actually only measured 8.3, which is how older sources refer to the event; but the moment magnitude scale that the geophysics community adopted in the 1970s converted the moment into the 9.5 mw by which we refer to it today (USGS, 2003). This is not the most powerful earthquake to have ever taken place, but it is the highest ranking earthquake to be recorded due to the recent advancements and global distribution of seismic and geological measuring instruments by both the United States and the Soviet Union.
The immense toll in fatalties and damages was largely due to the secondary effects of the Valdivia earthquake that took place throughout the following days after May 22, inlcuding tsunamies, flooding, lahars, and the even eruption of the Cordón Caulle volcano. Related to the tsumani and the destruction of at least 40% of all structures in the area, flooding ran rampent for several days following May 22. Figure 4 is a still from flooding in Quellon, a costal island community several hundred kilometers south of Valdivia. The worst mass wasting came to be known as the Riñihuazo flood. When several lahars resulted from the Valdivia earthquake, the Riñihue Lake become completely blocked from a connected outflow river, the San Pedro (Diario Austral, 2010). This cause the lake to rise at an alarming rate and pour into the adjacent communities. Then, on May 24, the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle Volcano, some 200 kilometers from the epicenter of the earthquake, would erupt (Rudolph, 1960). The eruption initiated itself with a powerful explosive phase, creating a clumn of ash 8 kilometers high from the source. The volcano would not erupt again for another 51 years.
The populations of Chile have been adapted to seismic activity for centuries, since the faults lining the Peru-Chile trench are among the most active in the world. Especially due to somewhat large earthquakes in the 1920s and 1930s, Chilean society still had earthquakes fresh in its mind (Diario Austral, 2010). Citizens were extremely fast in evacuating the buildings, and were able to band together very quickly. Most of the problems were structural, since Chile at the time was not nearly as economically affluent as it is today. However, the seismic event was literally felt throughout the world, and many nations quickly began to pour in aid to stimulate the initial recoveries (Diario Austral, 2010). Mexico especially sent large amounts of financial aid and donated several schools to the Valdivia area. The following video recalls the devastating chain of events and offers telling footage of the time:
Sources of images:
 Figure 1: “Eruption on Volcán El Reventador,” Science Thoughts, retrieved April 22 2017 from http://sciencythoughts.blogspot.com/2012/11/eruption-on-volcan-el-reventador.html
 Figure 2: “Ring of Fire,” National Geographic, retrieved April 21 2017 from https://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/ring-fire/
 Figure 3: USGS, Last modified 2016. M 9.5 – Bio-Bio, Chile; retrieved April 28 2017 from https://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eventpage/official19600522191120_30#map
 Figure 4: “Terremoto de Valdivia 1960,” Volcanes históricos; retrieved April 28 2017 from http://www.volcaneshistoricos.com/terremoto-de-valdivia-1960/
Hurricane Floyd was a category 4 hurricane that threatened the East Coast of the United States in September 1999. Floyd did not make landfall until it was a Category 2 hurricane and impacted Eastern North Carolina on September 16th, 1999. Eastern North Carolina was significantly impacted by flooding as Floyd passed through, dropping up more than 12 to 16 inches of rain to an already saturated areas.
Public Awareness: The citizens of Eastern North Carolina are no strangers to Hurricanes. Between 1851-2015, 290 hurricanes of different categories have impacted the Eastern United States from Texas to Maine. Eastern North Carolina has extensive evacuation routes throughout the area and prepare by boarding up homes to prevent damage and placing sandbags for flooding. The sense of urgency was significant throughout the east coast with a record amount of evacuees, however, the sense of the residences in Eastern North Carolina was the “ride it out” mentality. The hardest hit areas of Eastern North Carolina have a 21% poverty rate, with 46% of private residences lacking home insurance.
Emergency Phase: Numerous rivers throughout the area exceeded the 500-yeah flood state impacting 2.1 million people. The death toll from Floyd, primarily due to flooding, was 52 causalities with more than 1,400 swift-water evacuations performed by the US Coast Guard, other military aide, and North Carolina Marine Fisheries. More than 20,000 homes were damaged or destroyed and a rough estimate of 12,000 businesses were recorded as well.
Restoration Phase: Following Floyd’s destruction, sources show that even up to a year after Floyd, restoration was still occurring. Flooding was the primary cause of deaths and damage to this area. Roads and bridges were washed out, and some dams were damaged, needing minor restoration. This area is primarily used for agriculture and livestock, which is the main source of income for the citizens. The total damage amount for agriculture and livestock loss was $812.6 million. Local water ways and drinking water were polluted from runoff and deceased animals. There is no clear timeline of the restoration phase, however, a map shows flooding still affecting the area up to 13 days later. Roughly 75% of the restoration income came from FEMA for debris removal and emergency response.
Reconstruction: Nearly 1,500 applications were submitted for disaster unemployment, totally $1.9 million. The total disaster cost announced by FEMA a year later was $6.9 billion. Reconstruction was first focused on the road ways and demolishing unstable infrastructure. Until the flood waters subsided, local polluted drinking water that impacted much of lower-income residence was a primary focus. Population maps throughout this area show different increase and decrease in amount following 1999 into 2000. This is unclear if the changes were a primary factor post Floyd.
Awareness Post Hurricane Floyd: As stated above, this area is prone to hurricanes and have regular threats from this type of disaster. Enhanced mitigation efforts on a state and local community level were researched and conducted following Floyd’s devastation. Education was used to educate the citizens on how to prevent damage and to understand even a “minor” threat could have tremendous impacts socially and economically. My research that I conducted however did not include much new preparation for another event just how mitigation tactics through education and rebuilding was being conducted.
Hurricane Camille was a storm that developed off the coast of West Africa. It grew in intensity as it traveled across the Atlantic and hit Cuba as a Category 2. After wreaking havoc on Cuba, the hurricane came into the Gulf of Mexico, gained strength, and hit the coast of Mississippi as a Category 5 hurricane on August 17, 1969. The winds were measured at 180-190 mph with gales of 210-mph at its strongest. Whole towns were leveled from both the wind and the storm surge from the storm. There are pictures that show where entire buildings were before the storm and then that same building missing in a picture taken after the storm. One of the reasons for the high death toll of this storm was the timing of the major points of the storm. When the storm first made landfall, it was a little before midnight.
As Hurricane Camille moved through Mississippi, it weakened and crossed the northern border as simply a Tropical Depression. Unfortunately, the storm met with a line of storms from a Tropical cyclone that was passing over Kentucky and regained some of its strength as it turned into Virginia. It dropped torrential rain for roughly eight hours (according to reports), causing flash flooding and landslides on either side of the Appalachian mountains. Like the initial landfall, most of the damage was done in the middle of the night. The rain in Virginia started around 10pm and did not let up until the early morning. The storm finally returned to Atlantic ocean late on August 20th.
What I found particularly interesting was the response to the storm. Some 17 Federal Agencies came to help with the recovery efforts. The usual people were there like the Military and the Red Cross. The IRS and the Treasury also aided in recovery efforts. The IRS helped people who sustained large property losses as well as gave information about “casualty deductions.” When it came time for the people of Mississippi to rebuild their towns, they essentially ignored making any efforts towards lasting mitigation. Instead, they rebuilt buildings on the same land that had just flooded without raising the structures or designing them to withstand high winds. In regards to the shore, they rebuilt the large hotels and apartment complexes along the water without modifying them for future storm surge.
The total deaths from this storm was over 262 and the estimated damages was around $1.5 billion (1969 values).
I choose to do my case study on the May, 2011 Tornado in Joplin, Missouri.
This event was especially important to me because I lived 30 minutes away from Joplin at the time. It is recorded as one of the worst tornado events in history and remains since its occurrence one of the most dangerous and costly tornados. The city was rebuilt fairly quickly, many homes and businesses that were completely leveled were rebuilt fully within two years. An issue that I learned about this event in my research was a bacteria, that was like a flesh eating disease that was affecting a lot of people in the area after. I had no clue before. The stories from the tornado were especially sad because the cities high school graduation was held only an hour or so before and many families were in the restaurants on the main path of the tornado. It was a Sunday afternoon so many church congregations were out to eat as well. The population in this area is not particularly vulnerable, but many didn’t have advanced notice of the storm. The sirens went off, but tornado sirens are really a last minute effort and are not meant to be heard in a house or building. One of the hospitals was also struck by the tornado and probably had the most vulnerable populations in it at the time.
Some of the links I am adding have interesting time lapse photos to look at.
urronestly I had no idea what I was doing when it came time to picking Case Studies. I remember Dr. Gallagher saying we should pick something we were interested in either by disaster or area, so I started googling disasters in Florida since I liked the area. Somehow I got on the track of fires and the name Bugaboo Scrub Fire jumped out at me. I had no idea what it was about, but the name looked cool so I signed up for it knowing absolutely nothing. I was very surprised as I started to research the fire that I actually became quite interested in it.
2007 went down as one of the most extremes fire seasons in recent memory. Fires were popping up all over the south in the summer and the Bugaboo Scrub Fire was the largest yet in combined Georgia and Florida history. Immediately preceding the Bugaboo Scrub Fire were the Sweat Farm Road Fire and the Big Turnaround Fire. These two events started a month before the Bugaboo Scrub Fire and when the three joined together in May 2007, they created a gargantuan force known as the Georgia Bay Complex.
What caused the fire? Specifically, a strike of lighting on May 5, 2007 on Bugaboo Island in the Okefenokee Swamp. What contributed to turning it into the largest fire in over 75 years? There were a few causes that all tied in together to create this perfect storm, or fire per say. The area was suffering from an extreme drought and locals knew for over a year that a massive fire was inevitable with the drought levels. Another factor was Subtropical Storm Andrea. Scientists were hopeful that the hurricane would bring rain to help cool the area, but unfortunately that did not happen. Subtropical Storm Andrea changed course and the Okefenokee Swamp fell out of range of the rains and into range of strong winds that picked up and carried the fires across the states. By May 16, 2007 over 120,000 acres were set ablaze. The last contributing factor was a lack of perscribed burns. The fire teams repeatedly stated that they knew a fire was inevitable that summer, but they did not change their habits in the number of controlled fires they lit to clear out flammable underbrush or start the process sooner.
All of this combined to create a fire that took almost 6 months to fully extinguish and over $3.5 billion in costs and damages. Luckily, the fire mitigation teams were able to protect local towns and no lives were lost in the process. It also forced the Georgia Forestry Commission and the Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center to release a comprehensive High Reliability Organizing (HRO) Implementation report on how to effectively work with the many fire and rescue services to educate the mitigation teams for the future.
Satellite picture from NASA of the Bugaboo Scrub Fire and the smoke it produced.
I chose to write about the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland because I grew up in Germany, and was directly impacted by this eruption. This volcanic eruption took place over the course of several months in 2010, and can be divided into three distinct stages. The second stage of this eruption expelled fine ash particles over eight kilometers into the air, and wholly disrupted air travel between the Americas and Europe. While the eruption itself yielded only minimal danger to the populous of Iceland, the ash cloud created of the second phase of this election affected the Northern hemisphere as a whole.