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


Three NWS radar sites down during severe weather outbreak

Severe thunderstorms will continue to put lives and property in danger as they march across portions of the Southeast and parts of the Ohio Valley. Three National Weather Service radars are malfunctioning and out of service in southern Georgia and southeast Alabama, as the area is impacted by severe weather and strong tornadoes.

However, to continue to keep people aware of the local weather and threats, AccuWeather-produced services remain available and reliable during this outage.

To give eyes on the ground to report sited tornadoes, the NWS Birmingham office sent out notices on social media requesting assistance from storm spotters. These storm reports are enabled by special technology patented by an AccuWeather company, and licensed free of charge to NOAA as a public service, for storm reporting in such situations.

This article is a great example of how our society today has become so advanced and how much it helps with mitigation of serious loss and damage done to communities by severe weather. Even when the national stations have been taken out by the extreme forces of these systems, we are still able to communicate with each other and keep all of the nation up to date on the storms.


Virginia Beach Tornado

An EF-2 tornado touched down in Virginia Beach for roughly 8 miles on Saturday, March 31. At least 12 homes are condemned and 32 people are displaced. I was in Virginia Beach this weekend visiting some friends and family (who were not affected by it) and they mentioned it and knew of people who had been affected by it. More than 200 homes total were damaged in some way by the storm. It is believed that 3 tornadoes total touched down in the area, but the one that did the most damage was the EF2. The others were both EF1 and mainly damaged or knocked down trees.

This is one of those situations where a natural hazard hits an area where it is not nearly as common as it is in other parts of the country. Tornadoes are known to hit the midwest United States, but rarely occur on the coasts. Most of the people in Virginia Beach probably have never even thought of a tornado as being a threat to their way of life. There are probably plenty of people who are aware of any and all hazards, but generally people in Virginia only think of maybe an EF0-1 tornado. This EF-2 tornado is relatively intense for what Virginians can be more prepared for.


An image from NWS with the path of the tornado and other good information about it.

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.


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.

Explosion on erupting Mount Etna injures at least 10

At least 10 people were injured on Thursday when an explosion occurred as lava continued to spew from Sicily’s Mount Etna. Those injured were tourists and scientists investigating recent eruptions on Mount Etna, according to the Associated Press.

The explosion reportedly occurred when magma from the volcano hit snow. There were no reports of life-threatening injuries or deaths.

The dramatic clash of the extremely hot lava and colder snow or water can easily lead to a steam explosion.

The Toulouse, France, Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) raised the aviation color code level to red on Thursday afternoon due to the ongoing eruption. A plume from the volcano was detected on satellite, but the VAAC stated that it was mainly composed of water.


Snow-covered Mount Etna, Europe’s most active volcano, spews lava during an eruption in the early hours of Thursday, March 16, 2017.

2.3 Magnitude Earthquake shakes Central Virginia

A small, but considerable earthquake occurred this past week just outside of Richmond, Virginia. The United States Geological Survey reported the magnitude-2.3 earthquake struck at about 10:11 p.m. (The quake was first reported as 2.1-magnitude, but was later revised as is often the case.) It was centered about three miles northeast of Goochland Courthouse and not far from Oilville.

While Earthquakes of less than a magnitude of 2.5 are normally not even felt, people from Hanover and Powhatan counties, as well as others in Short Pump and other nearby locations, reported feeling the quake.

No reports of injuries or damages resulting from the earthquake have been reported as of 8:30 a.m. on Monday. Goochland County and VDEM requested citizens to check over their homes and property for any visual or hidden damages. Attention should be paid to foundations, chimneys, and sheetrock of homes and businesses.

While this event is clearly not a disaster in terms of property damage and/or death tolls, I found it a good thing to post about since earthquakes are so rare in Virginia. This goes back to our discussions with people not really knowing what to do when these natural hazards that are so uncommon in our area are able to reach their potential and actually threaten our way of life. Even though we have only experienced a handful of notable earthquakes in Virginia in the last few years, it is still a good wake up call to always be aware of the unpredictability of the world around us.

Tropical Cyclone Enawo poses life-threatening impacts to Madagascar

Enawo made landfall late on Tuesday morning (local time) as an intense tropical storm with winds equal to that of a Category 4 Hurricane in the Atlantic or eastern Pacific Oceans. It has been said that Madagascar will experience damaging and destructive winds and heavy rainfall into Wednesday. While the storm will weaken significantly after making landfall, the provinces of Antsiranana and Toamasina are still at risk for life-threatening flooding rain and significant damaging wind gusts in excess of 100 mph. Some communities could be isolated if flooding washes out roadways across the region. As we saw with the cyclone that hit Galveston, the most destructive/life-threatening aspect of the storm will probably be the storm surge.

It should be noted that this storm is only referred to as a Tropical Cyclone since ‘Hurricane’ is a local term for the cyclones we experience. It is also very interesting that this cyclone is in the southern hemisphere and rotates clockwise opposed to the cyclones we experience which rotate counter-clockwise. This being said, the most destructive area of the storm would be the area closest to the eye on the left side (it is on the right side in the northern hemisphere) because it is going with the movement of the storm.


Rainfall predictions/estimates

Radar image of Enawo showing the clockwise rotation

Projected path and risk levels

Mudslides force road closures in California

California experienced serious travel problems as heavy rain swept across the state. Multiple major roadways were shut down due mudslides. There were multiple motorists who had to be rescued after they had consciously avoided road barriers and driven into flooded roadways. One truck was even hit by a mudslide and flipped over. The Bay Area was hit hardest by the mudslides.


Mudslides shut down roads across California, including the corner of Redwood Road and Browns Valley Road in Napa County on February 7, 2017. (Photo/Twitter/@CountyofNapa)

Mudslides shut down roads across California, including the corner of Redwood Road and Browns Valley Road in Napa County on February 7, 2017. (Photo/Twitter/@CountyofNapa)

Psychology of warnings

This article is not necessarily about a recent hazard, BUT relates a lot to what we have been discussing in regards to knowing what a warning means and how people react to it. It talks more about the psychology of people and how they react to warnings of weather. The main things considered is the fact that people sometimes just cannot comprehend what exactly a radar is saying. There needs to be simple and easy to interpret maps/radars of potentially dangerous conditions that are not far off in the future in order for them to really react and not just look over it. More often than not, people will not react appropriately to dangerous weather until they actually see the weather with their own eyes and not just on a radar.