CASE STUDY SUMMARY_MULLINS

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.

Case Study Summary _ Fulkerson

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.

Damage from Hurricane Andrew

 

Wildfire in Arizona Due to Dry, Windy Weather

Strong winds have made it difficult for firefighters to get Arizona’s Sawmill wildfire under control.  Residents of the small town Sonoita have been ordered to evacuate as the fire burns through the Santa Rita Mountains.  “As we were evacuating, the fire jumped the road right as my family was crossing,” Green Valley Fire District Chief Chuck Wunder told KGUN.

About 300 fire personnel are battling the fire, which was 7 percent contained as of yesterday afternoon; those said 300 includes five hotshot crews, 20 fire engines, five air tankers and three helicopters.  Winds were gusting at up to 45 mph with low humidity and another round of strong winds is expected with a new storm on Friday, although no rain is expected.

The Green Valley area has seen only about 25% of its average precipitation since February 1st and along with the low humidity have created the perfect the “perfect” conditions for a wildfire.  “It only takes a cigarette flicked out of a moving vehicle” to start a fire in such weather, says a Green Valley Fire Department spokesperson. (Another great reason not to smoke cigarettes!)

https://www.wunderground.com/news/sawmill-wildfire-tucson-arizona-evacuations

Severe Thunderstorms in Arkansas and Oklahoma

Severe thunderstorms are causing hail, possible tornadoes, and damaging winds in Arkansas and Oklahoma. The thunderstorms were predicted to have straight line winds, large hail, and possibly create tornadoes. The severe thunderstorms will pass through Arkansas and Oklahoma in two rounds. The first set of storms was moving through Arkansas as of 2:00 pm this afternoon. So far the storm has knocked down tree branches and caused flooding. The second round of thunderstorms will pass through Arkansas late this afternoon and evening and will be gone by Saturday morning. Wind gusts up to 70 mph are expected in addition to 1 to 3 inches of rain in certain areas. Flood warning have also been issued for central Oklahoma. Last night and earlier today severe supercell thunderstorms caused damage in Texas. The thunderstorms are part of a multiple day serve weather event that is crossing the south this weekend.

Friday's Thunderstorm Forecast

http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2017/apr/21/strong-storms-high-winds-possible-tornadoes-foreca/?f=news-weather

https://weather.com/storms/severe/news/severe-weather-forecast-midwest-plains-mid-april-2017

Severe Thunderstorms in Texas and Oklahoma

An out break of severe weather last night and this morning in Texas and Oklahoma caused lots of damage. The storm flooded roads and knocked out power for over 200,000 people in northern Texas. The thunderstorm also produced damaging wind sheer that knocked over trees and caused property damage. The same storm also produced baseball size hail that shattered car wind shields casing people to be sent to the hospital.  Along with the flooding, hail, and wind sheer the thunderstorm also spawned at least 14 tornadoes. Which is very impressive. All of the tornadoes were in Texas, so the damage sustained in Oklahoma was not a tornado but due to the wind sheer over 95 mphs.  So far there has only been one person reported dead.

2.7″ hail a few moments ago in Seymour, TX @NWSNorman

Cyclone Debbie: police fear fatalities with extent of damage unclear

Australia’s recent weeks of natural disasters have created Cyclone Debbie. Because the damage has been so extensive, officials are unclear of magnitude will be, also people have been warned that deaths may result. Despite these grim reports, the Queensland government has evacuated many individuals from dangerous areas. Weather  experts are warning that things will not start to normalize until Wednesday evening.  Although many of the homes that were built in Bowen had been built to withstand cyclones, it was reported that a majority of these houses were torn apart. This has caused a great deal of environmental damage. There continues to be ongoing rain in Bowen and surrounding areas which  further contributes to making damage assessment difficult for experts to gage.

Although it has been difficult to determine the damage that Cyclone Debbie caused on a general scale, people who witnessed and felt the storm had a lot to report. Rosalind Willcocks, a local resident of Hideaway Bay described  how destructive Debbie was. “It’s just destroyed our trees and our garden. The buildings are brick but we did lose a barbecue, fridge, things like that went flying off.” Tony Fontes, who is a tourist driver described a similar situation. He states that based on the wind, and the trees that he saw falling inti the water because of the storm, would cause damage to the coal reefs. Although he says that this has happened before, Fontes still sees this as an awful result that continues to mess with the environment. In a statement that was released by the Bureau of Meteorology, the most populated area at the southern edge of the cyclone watch zone, had missed out on a disastrous storm surge by only a small amount. Because the storm happened later than expected, rain did not cause as serious damage as was anticipated, but is estimated to continue until tomorrow.

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/mar/28/cyclone-debbie-queensland-police-fear-fatalities-with-extent-of-damage-unclear

 

Queensland’s premier described Cyclone Debbie as ‘incredibly scary’ and said the state would be feeling its impact for up to five days. Photograph: Bureau of Meteorology/EPA

Up to 20 Students Dead after Storm in Ghana

 

Rescuers search for tourists trapped under the fallen tree at a waterfall at Kintampo in Brong Ahafo region.

Up to 20 students are dead after a storm in Ghana caused trees to fall into a popular swimming spot. Wind and heavy rains caused by a storm resulted in large trees to fall and trap people in a pool at the bottom of the Kintampo Waterfalls. The Kintampo Waterfalls are some of the tallest in the Brong-Ahafo region of Ghana. The pool at the bottom of these waterfalls is a very popular tourist spot, and also a favorite of locals to swim and cool off. While on a trip to the northern regions of Ghana, 12 students of the Wenchi secondary school got trapped in the pool by falling tress and were killed. A spokesman for the national fire service, Prince Billy Anaglate, released a statement saying that 18 people died at the scene and an additional 2 people died in the hospital.

While storms would not regularly be considered disasters, this case just proves that they are still dangerous weather events and people need to be more cautious when storms are occurring. The students should not have been in the pool when it was raining to begin with, there are just too many factors that can go wrong during a storm. It is obvious that these students were too overzealous in thinking that it was just a storm and nothing more, weather is unpredictable, which is why it is so dangerous to ignore weather and to be callous in the face of potential disaster. This case is a perfect of example of people taking a disaster and turning it into a catastrophe, except that the careless overconfidence of the students and their teachers in this case caused a routine weather event to become a disaster. I can not help but think that this event could have been avoided, had someone just told the students to get out of the pool as soon as the rain started, and if not when the rain started at least when the winds started to pick up. Tragedies like these can be avoided if people just stopped ignoring the signs nature is providing them.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/20/twenty-teenagers-die-ghana-waterfall-accident-kintampo

Wildfires burn more than 1 million acres, taking 7 lives

Story highlights

  • By Tuesday, more than 1 million acres had burned
  • Residents evacuated in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado

(CNN) Wildfires across the country had consumed more than 1 million acres by Tuesday night, taking at least 7 lives.

The Oklahoma Forestry Service told CNN the fires burned 400,000 acres, and prompted Gov. Mary Fallin to declare a state of emergency for 22 counties.
Officials in four other states said that 400,000 acres were destroyed in Kansas, 325,000 in the Texas Panhandle and 30,000 in Colorado — not to mention the 6,000 acres burning in the Florida swamps near Naples that resulted in mandatory evacuations.

5 fire-related deaths in Texas

Three ranchers trying to save their cattle died in a wildfire in Gray County, Texas, according to Sandi Martin, coordinator with Gray County Emergency Management.
The three were among five people killed by wildfires in the Texas Panhandle as fires continue to scorch swaths of the Southwest and Great Plains.
The Gray County blaze scorched 100,000 acres, but has since been contained, Martin said. State fire marshals are working to determine the cause.
The three victims were identified as 20-year-old Cody Crockett, 22-year-old Sydney Wallace and Sloan Everett, according to Richard Peet, a county judge and the Gray County director of emergency management. Wallace died from smoke inhalation, while Everett and Crockett were badly burned, he told CNN.
Crockett and Wallace were “an amazing young couple,” according to family friend Lee Tammy Callenback.
Callenback posted a tribute on her business’ Facebook page.
“Cody brought his new found love Sydney to meet us and we immediately knew they were perfect for each other,” Callenback said. “She was an amazing young woman with a bright future as a nurse, but was always trying to keep up with the cowboy way of life.”
The Hoover Volunteer Fire Department said in a Facebook post that all of its units had returned home safely.
One person died in a fire in Lipscomb County, according to Sheriff Kenneth Eggleston — and another fire-related death was reported in Ochiltree County.
Wildfires have forced evacuations in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Colorado.

Firefighters injured

As many as five firefighters were injured while fighting another fire near Amarillo, Texas. Several blazes merged into one massive fire reportedly 12 to 15 miles across, according to Potter County Sheriff’s Office Capt. John Coffee.
The Texas A&M Forest Service is monitoring two major fires that remain active in the Texas Panhandle.
The largest of the two is the Perryton fire, which is more than 300,000 acres wide and only 5% contained. The fire, which is located in Ochiltree and Lipscomb counties, has destroyed two homes.
The other, the Dumas Complex fire, covers 25,000 acres and was 90% contained Tuesday evening.
The Texas A&M Forest Service and the National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center forecast that winds, which help stoke the wildfires, will subside on Wednesday.
Elevated fire conditions will return to the area on Thursday, Friday and Sunday, according to the Forest Service.
Gov. Greg Abbott activated state resources to combat the wildfires, according to a statement from his office.

One dead in Kansas

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback said a man died from smoke inhalation in Clark County after getting out of a semitrailer truck he was driving.
“We’re not out of the woods, by any means,” Brownback said at a news conference where he urged residents to stay home if they didn’t have to travel.
“Yesterday was just a particularly incredible day for the state. We saw fire, floods, fail, tornadoes, straight line winds and dust,” he said.
The Kansas fires have accelerated rapidly throughout the day. According to Catherine Horner, spokeswoman with the state Division of Emergency Management, the fires in Clark County have consumed more than 350,000 acres — or nearly 60% of the county.
The fires have destroyed 30 homes and compromised bridges, Horner said, but it’s now at least 50% contained.
Horner told CNN that the fire in Reno County has forced 10 to 12 thousand people to evacuate. Crews went to homes and structures in the area looking for victims. The Kansas National Guard has lent four Black Hawk helicopters to the firefighting effort for water drops.
She also said the fire spread today to Comanche County, where 500 people had to be evacuated.

One fire-related death in Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, a 63-year-old woman died of a heart attack while fighting wildfires alongside her husband in Harper County, according to Dale Spradlin, Director of the state’s Department of Emergency Management.
He told CNN that 125,000 acres were burning in his county alone. The fires destroyed one “inhabited structure,” some barns and “a big hog production complex.”
“It’s 15 to 16% humidity,” Spradlin said. “It’s just like a powder keg out here. A good static charge will start a fire right now.”
An update from the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management said that eight fire-related breathing complications had been reported to hospitals in the area.
More than 185,000 acres had burned in a fire in Beaver County, and fire departments in Payne County responded to five separate fires throughout the day, according to the update.
Fire conditions were not expected to improve through Tuesday night, according to a press release from Gov. Mary Fallin’s office.
Source: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/07/us/wildfires-texas-deaths/

High Winds Investigated As Cause of Crash

The Chesapeake Bay  Bridge Tunnel has seen its share of accidents, but Thursday, February 9, 2017 saw a tractor-trailer plunge into the Bay.  Despite a quick rescue by the U.S. Navy, the driver died in transit to the hospital.  The crash is under investigation following travel restrictions on the Bridge Tunnel due to winds in excess of 60mph in the area.

Find the full article here

Violent Storms in France and Spain

A series of violent storms are currently battering the coasts of France and Spain. This has resulted in loss of power in areas and damage to infrastructure. As of yesterday, 250,000 homes have been left without electricity in southwest France, while the Atlantic coastline in Portugal, northern Spain and France have been experiencing storm-driven waves and high winds of around 150 km/hr. Damage to a stadium’s roof in Spain caused the postponement of a futbol match. The pictures in the article show high waves hitting the shoreline and the damaging effects of high winds. Read the Al Jazeera story here.