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.
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.
My case study was on the Fort Worth Mayfest Storm of 1995. I chose this event because it held a huge hail and lightning storm, and I find both hail and lightning fascinating. This storm was one of the most costliest hailstorms in United Sates history, costing in over $2 billion in damage, and was one of the most severe; it was classified as a high-precipitation supercell storm – a thunderstorm with the presence of a mesocyclone with much heavier precipitation.
The storm hit during the Mayfest festival in Fort Worth, Texas. Mayfest is a huge outdoor festival, and over 10,000 people were caught off guard with very little shelter. The storm hit very suddenly and only lasted just over an hour, but resulted in heavy damage to both infrastructure and citizens. Hundreds suffered from injuries from the 4 inch diameter hail with broken bones, bruising, and lacerations. They tried hiding in their cars, but the hail shattered their windows and windshields which led to further injuries from cuts from the glass. Several people died from the flash flooding, hail, and lightning from which 2 people died by lightning strikes. A storm like this one had not hit Fort Worth before, so the community did not expect it, nor had any mitigation in place to evacuate and protect its citizens.
Fort Worth and Tarrant County learned from this extreme event and created the Local Mitigation Action Plan (LMAP) to provide the much needed mitigation in order to evacuate and protect the people in future natural hazards. The LMAP was created by representatives and citizens from local communities attending public meetings to “discuss the hazards their communities face and the vulnerabilities those hazards present.” A volunteer group, the Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Service (RACES), formed as well after the Mayfest storm. RACES created a mobile weather command center connected to the NWS Fort Worth office’s emergency management team and city police, and using this technology will allow the area to be evacuated within 30 minutes of a future extreme weather event.
My case study is on Hurricane Andrew. I chose this event because I have heard all about it growing up with two meteorologist parents. At the time of its occurrence in August 1992, it was the most destructive hurricane in United States history. It caused major damage in the Bahamas and Louisiana, but the greatest impact was in South Florida, where it made landfall at Category 5 hurricane intensity on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane scale, with wind speeds up to 165 mph (270 km/h). Passing directly through the town of Homestead, Florida, a city south of Miami, Andrew obliterated entire blocks of homes, in many cases leaving only the concrete foundations. Over 25,000 houses were destroyed in Miami-Dade County alone, and nearly 100,000 more were severely damaged. 65 people were killed and the damage total across the affected regions exceeded $26 billion (1992 USD).
Though Andrew was a small tropical cyclone for most of its lifespan, it caused extreme damage, especially in the Bahamas, Florida, and Louisiana. The vast majority of the damage was as a result of extremely high winds, although a few tornadoes spawned by Andrew caused considerable damage in Louisiana. Throughout the areas affected, almost 177,000 people were left homeless. Outside of the Bahamas, Florida, and Louisiana, effects were widespread, although damage was minimal. As a result of damage in Florida and Louisiana, Andrew was listed as the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, but is now fourth following Hurricanes Katrina (2005), Sandy (2012), and Ike (2008).
The death toll could have been significantly higher if it wasn’t for such good forecasting and careful monitoring of the storm. Our forecasting abilities have only gotten better since this disaster. After the storm passed, President Bush assessed damage in the Miami-Dade area with then-Governor of Florida Lawton Chiles. Shortly thereafter, Bush declared the region a disaster area, which provided public assistance to victims of the storm. In September 1992, President Bush initially proposed a $7.1 billion aid package to provide disaster benefits, small-business loans, agricultural recovery, food stamps, and public housing for victims of Hurricane Andrew. The cost was later increased to $11.1 billion. The bill, which was the most costly disaster aid package at the time, was passed by Congress as House Resolution 5620 on September 18, and signed into law by President Bush on September 23.
It took nearly 10 years for the region to fully recover from Hurricane Andrew, but as a Homestead resident said in 2012, “We are now much better prepared for hurricanes. After Andrew, the construction standards changed tremendously. We now have one of the most stringent building codes in the country.”
Progression of Hurricane Andrew through the Atlantic and into the U.S.
I chose Hurricane Katrina as the subject of my case study. Probably my primary reason for the choice was my personal involvement. At the time, I was still working for The Alexandria Fire Department in Northern Virginia. Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) requests starting coming in to Virginia for agencies able to assist int he response effort. The Northern VA Fire Departments started sending down 50 person task forces to assist in providing fire response service to Hancock County Mississippi. We were quartered at Stennis Space Center at one end of the county. We lived in a large tented camp (Camp Buzz) that had been put there to house us. We supplemented some of the few volunteer departments that remained (along with the full time department in Bay St. Louis). So my personal experience there was a little bit of why I chose it. I also posted a video below of storm surge that is quite long, but some pretty interesting footage. It shows buildings getting flooded a ways into the video. I will also post some pictures of my personal experience there. And will detail a bit more about the disaster below.
Hurricane Katrine would be the costliest US Hurricane causing a staggering 108 billion dollars in damage and changing the region for years to come and to some extent today with the changes in population from those displaced. I think it probably positively impacted the ways governments responds to disasters and how they work better together. The 2005 Hurricane Season was to be a busy one and a devastating one. Katrina formed differently than others normally form. This horrific tropical cyclone formed from the combination of a tropical wave, an upper level trough and the mid-level remnants of Tropical Depression Ten. It would make landfall three times in the US, first in Florida and then twice in the Gulf Coast Region. There was a significant loss of Life, approximately 1800 were killed due to the hazards associated with hurricanes. Storm surge and the flooding after the failure of antiquated levee system around New Orleans cause the largest loss of life there. The response of government at all levels was lacking and failure to issue mandatory evacuations early in New Orleans led to a large loss of life. The slow response from the state and federal government and the failure to coordinate resources which is critical were big reasons this response was a failure.
Track of the Hurricane Katrina
New Orleans was the center of most of the news coverage and I thought I would post some pictures from Mississippi, where I was deployed. This area too was devastated, but the loss of life was far less significant. Walking along the Gulf of Mexico, it looked like someone had carpet bombed the entire area as far as the eye could see. The bridge going to Pas Christian was gone, barring a lot of the columns. Portions of one side of the I-10 bridge going into New Orleans were completely gone, leave concrete columns standing only. The power of a major hurricane is amazing. The area we were in had water up to the I-10 bridge overpass, which was about 10 miles inland. I could not imagine losing everything as these people did.
Here is Camp Buzz where we spent some of our time. It was situated on The Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.
Here are the FEMA trailers that served as our fire station where I was working out of. We operated out of the Walmart Parking Lot in Waveland, Mississippi. Apparently the initial storm surge height was up to the Walmart lettering over top of the store, putting it somewhere in the twenty foot plus range.
The residents did not like FEMA, or even the mention of them at the time
These were common to find, at least in some form
This greeted us the first day we pulled duty in our station
Sydney, Australia saw its average rainfall for the entirety of February in a single hour this year. Brisbane was flooded this March by Cyclone Debbie. This month, Melbourne’s average monthly rainfall fell in a single day. As the world’s climate continues to change, we can expect to see more of these “extreme weather events.”
According to “Intense Rainfall and Flooding: The Influence of Climate Change” by the Climate Council, “Bushfires, drought, heatwaves, storms, and extreme wind will be expected to become more frequent.” Australia’s heatwaves are already lasting longer and reaching hotter temperature highs and the Center of Excellence for Climate System Science’s research shows that Sydney’s summer heatwaves are already starting 19 days earlier. An intense heatwave in Victoria and Southern Australia during 2009 killed 432 people, 23 people drowned in the Queensland floods of 2011, and another 8 people died after a city-wide “asthma event” which was triggered by a freak thunderstorm during November of 2016 in Melbourne. In fact, heat extremes for 2030 are already being predicted since the number of heatwave days have a;ready doubled over the last 30 years. “The hottest day of their heat wave is 4.5 degrees hotter than it used to be,” says Amanda McKenzie, the CEO of the Climate Council.
I think it’s interesting that this article concludes with the statement – “We need to make sure we have a clear idea about what the changing climate will mean, and that we’re ensuring that our infrastructure is prepared, our emergency services are prepared, and communities are prepared too.” We’ve talked so much in class about how government can protect its people from natural hazards so I’m eager to see what mitigation will be put into place to protect the region. I also want to see how Australia’s government will react to the incoming of extreme weather events as its climate continues to change, and how the people can prepare for such event.
Cyclone Debbie hit Queensland on 28 April, but the aftermath of the storm is being evaluated as worse than the storm itself. The Guardian has compiled images of the flooding and its effects, specifically in Rockhampton:
Last week a strong cyclone struck New Zealand causing landslides, power outages and even tons of trees falling creating a lot of destruction. Many people abandoned their villages. Thankfully most followed the safety directions to get out of there as the villages were hit with huge waves from the shoreline. The civil defense staff immediately asked people to evacuate and closed schools and office buildings. There was even public transport for those trying to evacuate. Thousands upon thousands of homes lost electricity and there were huge amounts of wind. There was also a lot of flooding as a result and they declared a states of emergency in some of the cities.
Between Bermuda and the Azores, a low pressure system is churning. It has been dubbed Invest 91L by the National Hurricane Center, which uses this type of naming convention for features that look like they could eventually become a tropical depression or storm. The system is currently producing gale force winds which means 39 mph or greater and seas as high as 40 feet have been reported. There are still a number of things acting against the escalation of this system, however. The seas in the area are not particularly warm (upper 60s).
The official hurricane season goes from June 1st to November 30th. A subtropical cyclone like the one this system could create if the right conditions come together is very rare as early as April, the last one occurring 14 years ago in 2003. Before Ana in 2003, there are no official named tropical storms since the beginning of the records in 1851!
Before Cyclone Cook made landfall in New Zealand at the Bay of Plenty on Thursday it was predicted to be the worst cyclone to hit New Zealand since 1968. Prior to the Cyclones landfall on the Northern Island, New Zealand authorities declared a state of emergency and people fled their homes. The expected path of the cyclone was forecasted to pass right over the islands. The actual track of Cyclone Cook turned away from New Zealand. Since the cyclone was moving so fast the rain did not last long. Instead New Zealand dodged the bullet and the worst of the storm passed by out at sea.
When Cyclone Cook made land fall at 6:30 PM New Zealand time it caused power outages, extensive flooding, landslides, uprooted trees and caused road closures. Horizon Energy says that its customers should expect to remain without power for 3 days. Luckily there was only one casualty and two people were sent to the hospital. On the South Island in Canterbury Christchurch sustained some of the most extensive flooding due to the Heathcote River overflowing its banks. Christchurch is the area that I am doing my case study for which is why this caught my attention.