Case Study Summary— Ortez

I decided to work on Hurricane Mitch as my family members in Honduras were able to experience it personally. One of the deadliest Atlantic hurricanes on file, Hurricane Mitch occured on October 22, 1998 causing at least 11,000 deceased in Central America. Documented as one of the most distressing hurricanes of the 20th century in the Atlantic Ocean, Mitch caused destructive disasters throughout Central America. In October 1998, a tropical easterly wave moved through West Africa and off the coast through the Atlantic Ocean. Summers that year had become extremely hot allowing sea temperatures in the Caribbean to reach up to 80°F. The rising air was replaced and a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained surface winds known as a tropical depression, was developed. Winds of 290 km per hour became stronger and stronger as the air kept rising and moving at a faster pace. The low pressure extended to 905 mb allowing it to be the lowest recorded pressure for any hurricane in the month of October in the Atlantic during that time. It spiraled toward the center in a counter-clockwise pattern and out the top in the opposite direction increasing in speed. Mitch was announced as a tropical storm and later classified as a Category 5 hurricane on the 23rd of October 1998.

Honduras and Nicaragua were especially hit hard by Hurricane Mitch. Lingering over the Western Hemisphere, the hurricane moved with several days of continuous rainfall over the Swan Islands, an island chain off the coast of Honduras. Heavy rain caused rivers and lakes to overflow affecting about 18 different departments. Nearly 50%-60% of the roads and bridges were damaged, crops were lost and around 3,800 water supply systems providing water to 2.9 million people, were affected. This did not make it any easier for its inhabitants as Honduras and the other countries in Central America were just recovering from the economic effects left by El Niño, Southern Oscillation events in 1997-1998. There were floods, forest fires and droughts that weakened the country. With the hurricane still in place, 45,330 Honduran residents were told to evacuate and sheltered in localities provided. More than 11,000 people were estimated to be dead after the storm and about 9,191 were reported missing just days after it struck. As communication was lost and many individuals went missing, it was a challenge keeping record to determine the exact amount of deaths in the population.

Officials responses to formal evacuation drills and disaster preparation notices were precise and simple. It was necessary to improve building codes for the homes and stay aware of the storm’s location. Many residents in the southern portion of the country believed to not be as affected like those in the north as the storm was predicted to form in the Atlantic Ocean. The Honduran and Nicaraguan community were not well educated on the storm and were not given enough effective resources in order to combat the hurricane. As usual, the southern region of Honduras is normally not taken into consideration during any conflict and the residents here were the most affected throughout the storm. It is unfair to have seen thousands of humble residents losing their belongings just because the Honduran officials did not take action to prepare better for Hurricane Mitch. These residents did not fully prepare for evacuation drills and any forms of disaster responses, buildings were poorly built and many families decided to move into other countries such as El Salvador and Guatemala as they were less affected by the storm. In response to this hazardous event, all the Red Cross branches throughout the nation remained on alert, especially those in the Bay Islands that were at highest risk. The Red Cross brought together actions with the local authorities and reinforcing them with vehicles and health assistance. In various departments temporary refugees were settled to shelter families that had to be evacuated from their homes. A relief team operated in both countries with enough plastic sheets and blankets, kitchen tools, clothes, shoes, and hygienic use kits. Through the local media an information campaign has been launched and information is being updated and published in the local newspapers. Mitigations of The 1998 massive hurricane, Hurricane Mitch, have allowed Central America to prepare for any other event to occur in the future. Now, when you go to the different countries in Central America, you will see building codes of open lower floors, better roof tiles and shatters implemented. Simple house designs and landscaping are taken into consideration. For the landscaping, sand and concrete are the biggest options provided.

Africa Prepares for Worst Drought in Decades

Authorities throughout Eastern Africa are preparing and advising the public that the country will be expecting higher temperatures and less rainfall in March and April of this year. Meteorologists believe that the drought is human-caused climate change which is allowing an increase warming in the Indian Ocean and this has caused more cyclones to occur. It worries agricultural workers as this is one of the most severe droughts in forty years! With a major drought in the country, inhabitants will experience an increase in malnutrition, threats to livelihoods and severe risks to over 29 million people living in the area. There is hope in the upcoming months that it will bring rain to the area and potentially provide “wetter than average” seasons.

Floods and Landslides Leave 12 Dead in Colombia

On April 07, 2022, the municipality of Abriaqui, Colombia experienced heavy rainfalls causing major floods and landslides in the area. About 12 people were killed and 10 were injured after the incident. Families were required to evacuate and roads affected, were blocked off. Across other big cities such as La Quiebra, Medellín and Bello, homes were damaged and destroyed. Many residents are still managing to recover from the major destruction done in the country. 

Tennessee Wildfire Causes Evacuations for Many

There are multiple wildfires burning throughout parts of Tennessee and North Carolina. Near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park located in Sevier County, Tennessee, a wildfire has been actively burning. It has impacted more than 3,700 acres of land causing major destruction. Firefighters and civilians have suffered slight injuries as results of the fire. Due to it, around 11,000 homes have been evacuated since Wednesday and it has been advised to continue to evacuate as It is still not safe. This is a nightmare for residents however, officials are working their fullest in order for everyone to return back safely to their homes. As of now, it is important to stay safe and continue to follow these protocols and receive alerts on the situation.

Saharan Dust Storm Sweeps Spain

Residents in Spain woke up to the sky filled with enormous dust clouds causing an alert on the air quality in the country. Sand and dust storms occur when strong, hot winds move across loose soils on dry land causing major destruction to society. This cloud has transported miles across the Mediterranean Sea from Africa’s Saharan Desert on Thursday. Health officials have advised citizens to avoid going outdoors and if needed to do so, use face coverings. It is important to prioritize everyone’s health and those with allergies and respiratory problems are most at risk as small-particles are in the air.

Warm Weather Begins in Minnesota

As frigid temperatures and icy winter storms are seen in parts of the country, Minnesota is starting to see spring-like weather. Temperatures are expected to be in the upper 30s and low 40s with sunshine seen throughout the day. The beginning of the week will start off with a few flakes to part of the state however, will not accumulate and stick for long as temperatures will be high throughout the remainder of the week.

Magnitude 5.7 Earthquake rattles Veracruz, Mexico

On Thursday, March 3rd around 9:40am, southern Mexico experiences a frightening earthquake. The earthquake had a magnitude of 5.7 and its epicenter was in the town of Veracruz. Mexico is known to have a long history of destructive earthquakes and volcanic eruptions however, this current one did not cause damage and injuries in the country.

Wind Advisory for Iowa

For most of Eastern Iowa, a wind advisory was issued from 6pm Saturday through 6am Sunday this past weekend. The state experienced showers and storms with winds about 20-30 mph and gusts up to 50 mph. There were low temperatures with light snow mixtures and this weather may continue through the beginning of the following week.

Winter Storm Landon Threats Central and Eastern Parts of the Country

Through the month of January, snow, sleet and freezing rain has been seen throughout the country and it will not stop there. Winter Storm Landon will have an impact Tuesday night on most of the U.S. from the Rocky Mountains to the Plains and Midwest and Northeast. Many areas could expect up to 6 inches or more of snow and freezing ran could accumulate. Make sure to work your plans around Storm Landon as traveling might be unsafe for the different areas affected.

Weather Alert: Florida Expecting Coldest Weather

Typical Florida weather constructs of long, warm and humid summers and short and dry winters. Winter months last from December to February with the lowest temperatures of 61°F. As for this weekend, South Florida is expected to experience lows in the mid-30s, allowing many to panic. Although it is not common, it is important to prepare for this weather and seek emergency help if needed. Stock up on food, stay warm with family and friends and beware of falling iguanas!