Yesterday’s tornado destroys Louisiana church, part of large storm system.

A large system of storms move across Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, causing over 15,000 people to be without power.  The thunderstorm is also causing tornado’s as seen in Ringgold, the former location of Ringgold Assembly of God Church.  So far no injuries or deaths have been reported but reports say that the storm will continue to advance into the week.

FILE - In this Feb. 8, 2017 file photo, the moon rises over a destroyed neighborhood in the aftermath of a tornado that tore through the New Orleans East section of New Orleans.  Forecasters are warning of severe storms as a powerful system moves across the central United States, the start of what could a turbulent stretch of spring weather over the next few days. The bull's-eye for some of the most fearsome weather _ including possible tornadoes, s over parts of Louisiana, Arkansas and east Texas on Friday, March 24 forecasters said. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)


Geospatial data and analysis for disaster relief

This post is an excerpt from Geospatial Data and Analysis, by Aurelia Moser, Jon Bruner, and Bill Day. If you click on the link below, it will take you to the post, but it also has a link to read more from this book and contains some really cool and useful information!

This post talks more about the recovery process of disasters and how technology has advanced to allow disaster relief agencies to use geospatial data that goes down to the level of individuals, as well as maps showing key infrastructure and up-to-date damage assessments created on the fly, in order to manage response efforts. Ten years ago, geospatial data was not rich enough to map these real-time movements of people and resources, but now that smart phones are ubiquitous around the world, this is something that is available and is being used very heavily in recent disasters.

A few examples are mentioned in the post about how drones are being used more and more and that their videos can be transformed into 3D models. Skycatch is the main industry behind this development. It originally sold this transforming software to construction companies working on very large projects, but it ended up joining the relief effort following the Nepal earthquake in 2015. “Data from the drones was used to identify damaged buildings, map paths for heavy equipment, and plan for the restoration of heritage sites.”

These are just a few of many advancements in technology we have made (and an idea of what else we can do with this technology) with regards to enhancing the relief and recovery processes following disasters and catastrophes.


Queensland Warned Over Category 4 Tropical Cyclone

The Bureau of Meteorology have warned residents of Queensland, Australia over an incoming category 4 tropical Cyclone, Debbie. This storm is expected to hit them between Sunday and Tuesday night. Officials of Queensland have advised residents to begin making preparations for this storm, as the Bureau is predicting that it could possibly turn into a category 5, should the winds speed up any more.

The director of Queensland’s regional bureau has stated that “If the cyclone was to speed up, it could [cause] impacts on the coast as early as Sunday night. Alternatively it could slow down, but the problem with that is that the longer time over the warmer waters of the Coral Sea could see it turn into a category five, I can’t rule that out.”

Meteorologists have been tracking this low pressure system over the Coral Sea for the past few days and are warning citizens, especially those in remote areas, to begin immediate preparation for evacuation, while extra emergency efforts and services are being put on standby.

The deputy police commissioner, Steve Gollschewski has stated that “This could go on for some days because we’re not just talking about a cyclone with wind; we’re also talking about potential flooding where there could be isolation and the like.”

Australia’s tracking and monitoring have proved useful in providing a timely warning to residents living in areas in the path of the storm. This type of mitigation, should the storm hit a category 4 or 5, will undoubtedly protect the citizens of Queensland as well as help to contain the damage and loss usually associated with these types of extreme weather events.

Good for you, Australia!

Wildfires in Mississippi

300 acres of land were burned in Leake County and Choctaw county in Mississippi the evening of March 23. No structures were threatened. It appears that these fires are the ones that we talked about in class that are purposely started to renew the grass in the area. Bulldozer crews created a fire line in order to contain the wildfire and firefighters remained on the scene in order to make sure it stayed where it was supposed to. Smoke is expected to continue as the fires burn out.

Twenty teenagers die in Ghana waterfall accident

Introduction: After days of heavy rain and strong winds in Ghana, the soil had become quite saturated with water and much more susceptible to mass wasting.  As a result of these two factors, trees surrounding kitampo waterfall were not anchored securely into the ground. When there was a stronger updraft of wind, the trees broke free of the ground and were carried into the water and down the waterfall. These trees unexpectedly falling caused the deaths of the 20 teenagers.

Background: Normally trees are quite capable of holding themselves securely in the ground, and we rarely look at trees and expect them to fall at any minute. However, when there is a lot of rainfall, the soil becomes saturated with water and does not hold itself together as well. Now let us imagine a day old baguette, its super hard, but when you soak it in water for a couple hours, it becomes soggy and falls apart at the slightest touch, the same goes for the soil and the trees in it. It would not take a lot of wind to move these trees out of the soil and carry it with it.

Analysis: This waterfall is frequented often by locals who wish to cool off from the heat by lounging under the waterfall. However, the locals should have been educated better about the hazards associated with days of heavy rain as well as strong winds. Both these factors result in increased risk of mass wasting, flooding, and other dangers. As a result, the government should have warned about the increased risk level with being under the waterfall. Going forward, the government should educate about these dangers and post signs at this waterfall and other waterfalls across the country warning people not to use the river after days of heavy rain and or during strong winds.




Michael Mumenthaler

Wildfire Shuts down Highway in Colorado

A wildfire started along the 285 Highway on Wednesday around 3 pm, briefly closing the highway on both sides, stopping traffic for a few hours. This is the second wildfire in Jefferson County, Colorado this week.

A photo of the wildfire burning near Indian Hills in Jefferson County.

It is reported that one outbuilding and two cars were damaged in the fire. While no cause has been identified yet for the fire, it is not unusual for this time of year in Colorado. With rapid winds and warmer weather moving in, this marks the beginning of wildfire season for the state.

The local sheriff’s office provided a statement saying that the fires were “100 percent contained” by the several responding fire agencies.

A local reporter captured and tweeted this video of the smoke pouring towards the highway on Wednesday.

Reports of Dangerous Levels of Water Scarcity Due to Drought and Other Factors

This article discusses a recent UN report that estimated that by 2040, one in four children will live with water scarcity worldwide. What I thought was most interesting in this article is that it discusses linkages between ongoing droughts and other hazards as well as how the humans in certain areas are exacerbating the problem of water shortage.  Linkages between hazards can be seen in places like Iran, which is undergoing such a severe drought that the soil is eroding; this soil erosion leads to damage to forests, an increase in dust storms, and increased air pollution. The human effect on hazards can be seen across the Middle East, South Asia, and Africa. The article names constant conflict, increased industrialization, and large numbers of people flocking to certain areas as factors that are rapidly depleting water in areas already under drought. It also mentioned an instance where efforts to conserve water actually ended up harming the environment; Lake Urmia, a large water resource for Iran, has reportedly shrunk to 12% of its size since the 1970’s due to droughts and bad water management policies upstream.

In this article, it can be seen that certain hazards in this situation are fixed; people cannot get rid of the drought or the hazardous events that are following it. However, governments can take steps to reduce some of the exacerbating effect that humans are having on the environment as well as implement techniques to mitigate the effects of the drought.



Deadly flood in Peru

There was recently a flood in Peru that left 67 people dead after high ocean temperatures poured down on Peru. The infrastructure in a lot of Peruvian regions was completely obliterated by the flood. To make matters worse, a wildfire tore through Peru and burned more than hundreds of thousands of acres of land after the flood. The education minister stated that $800 million was saved up to help the hard hit areas of the flood. Peru has not seen this gravity of a natural disaster in almost 100 years, so the residents were very vulnerable. Many believe that the disaster was caused by climate change.

Small Earthquake(s) in Mt. Gambier


“Humans make great seismologists — we are pretty sensitive. We feel every little bump that goes off.”

There were two earthquakes felt by the residents in Wandilo, Australia, a city located north-west of Mount Gambier. The tremors were so small, they went undetected by the seismograph. Rather, the scientists in charge of the Geoscience Australia website learned about the earthquakes from residents who reported it on the webpage. The scientists estimate that the initial tremor could be felt about 25 kilometers away from the estimated epicenter.

The second earthquake, occurring at roughly 5pm (local time) may have just been a secondary quake linked to the first one. The data from the monitors will let them know if it was a true, independent case or not.

This is the second (and possibly third) earthquake of the year for this area. The first occurrence was in early February.



6 life-threatening tornado myths debunked

AccuWeather Storm Chaser Reed Timmer catches a tornado blasting right over an overpass in Clinton, Mississippi, on April 15, 2011. (Photo/Reed Timmer)

While this isn’t a disaster story, it does potentially help with preventing further harm done by a Tornado. A big part of what we have talked about this semester is educating the public about hazards and other potential disasters. It plays a huge part in mitigating catastrophes. In this case, the focus is the infamous Tornado. I have personally heard about all six of these myths and most of them I was told growing up (having two wanna-be meteorologists as parents helped) were not necessarily true, but sometimes with friends or even in school, I heard that they were true. The main ones being the green sky indicator and the overpass. Up until reading this article, I was not entirely sure what to believe.

It is another example of how we as a society really need to make an effort to come to an accepted conclusion so that the public can be more prepared and can know what is best to do in case of a weather emergency.