I chose to do my case study of the 2004 indian Ocean Tsunami. Mostly, because I remeber being in the 4th grade during it, and everyone talking about how a giant wave stopped the world from spinning for a whole 3 seconds, shaving that time off of our life. Turns out, that was nothing but a rumor made uo by children who couldnt understand the entierty of what was going on, but my interest was piqued.

The tsunami was the result of a 9.3 M underwater earthquake along 2 faults on the northern side of Sumtra. When considering the fact that tsunamis gain speed at deeper depths, and the average depth f 4 km in the Indian Ocean, it let the waved reach a speed of up to 720 km per hour, or about the speed of a jet liner. the waves slowed down marginally as it neared shore, but even the shallowness of the coastal shelf was not enough to deter the massive waves from washing up on shore, up to 2,000 meters inland.

In the aftermath of the waves, it ws discvoered that there had been approxiamtely 230,000 deaths scattered throughout the 14 countries bordering the Indian Ocean that were hit by the tsunami. Relief efforts poured in from around the globe, creating one of the largest civil recovery efforts ever. The recunstruction of the destroyed lands had been a slow process, just because there was so much to do, but by the 10 year mark, the recovery efforts had finally been able to show exactly what it had all been for, as the=ose countries looked like they had never been touched.

Since the 2004 tsunami, there has been the creation of an undersea earthquake monitoring system that had successfully notified the population of possible tsunami inducing events in the indian Ocean, allowing the population to understand more about how to prepare themselves in case the events of December 26th, 2004 ever repeat themselves again.

Case Study_Beckhorn

I chose to do my case study on the 2011 Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand. I chose it because I have always been interested in Liquefaction and the damage that is causes to infrastructure. The boundary between the subducting oceanic plate and the Australian plate runs right through the middle of New Zealand. New Zealand is part of the Ring of Fire. The area is highly tectonically active so New Zealand receives a lot of earthquakes. The  Christchurch earthquake occurred at 12:51 PM New Zealand time on February 22, 2011. The focus of the earthquake was very close to the surface and it had a magnitude of 6.3. The earthquake was powerful enough to generate its own aftershocks, even though it was technically an aftershock a larger but less destructive earthquake six months previously. The earthquake was caused by a previously unknown fault line that was 6 km from the center of Christchurch. The type of faulting that caused the earthquake is called reverse faulting. The secondary hazard besides the actual earthquake itself is the liquefaction that occurred as a result of the earthquake. The liquefaction destabilize the foundations of the buildings and caused them to partially sink into the ground or collapse. The liquefaction deposited thousands of tons of silty sand all over Christchurch. The liquefaction actually caused more damage than the shaking from the earthquake. 185 people died in the earthquake and 7000 people were injured.

Over the years New Zealand has taken many steps to mitigate the damage caused by earthquakes. They have retrofitted their bridges, and lifelines to hopefully withstand earthquakes. They also practice earthquake drills in schools and teach the children the safest places to be during an earthquake. The problem I caused the most damage was the development of residential neighborhoods in areas that they knew had a high risk of liquefaction. When the earthquake occurred most of the houses in these areas were destroyed from a combination of the liquefaction and the shaking from the earthquake.

Christchurch is still rebuilding from the earthquake and may have completed about half of the Christchurch central recovery plan. It focuses on a few key projects that will help revitalize Christchurch. Christchurch central business district was mostly destroyed so during the rebuilding process they have changed the Central business district hopefully for the better. The government has also bought out the houses in the areas with high liquefaction and there are plans to turn the area into a park.

Christchurch was not caught completely unawares by the liquefaction that occurred during the 2011 earthquake. The earthquake that had occurred in September of the previous year had minor liquefaction and scientists knew that liquefaction was possible in the area. Christchurch was prepared to handle an earthquake but they were not prepared for liquefaction.

Since the Christchurch earthquake, New Zealand’s economy has been bolstered by a booming construction economy. Other earthquakes have hit Christchurch in the last five years and they seem to be slowly rebuilding.

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I chose to write my case study on the Soufriere Hills volcano which is located on the island of Montserrat. I have always been fascinated by volcanic eruptions and wanted to learn more about the physical processes that cause such explosions to occur. The Soufrière Hills volcano is a complex stratovolcano which formed at the crossing of the Atlantic tectonic plate and the Caribbean plate with several lava domes forming its summit. In French, Soufrière translates to sulphur outlet. Soufrière Hills forms the northern portion of the miniature sized Island of Montserrat in the British Lesser Antilles. After a long period of dormancy, it became active again in 1995 as a new lava dome was built and has continued to erupt since. Due to its large scale eruptions, more than half of Montserrat has been left uninhabitable. The capital city of Plymouth was destroyed and caused widespread evacuations throughout the region. Nearly two-thirds of the population abandoned the island. The physical processes that caused the disaster involve the andesitic nature of the volcano, periods of lava dome growth, and dome collapse which resulted in pyroclastic flows, ash venting, and explosive eruptions. The island of Montserrat is built almost entirely of volcanic rocks. In size it is sixteen kilometers in length from north to south and ten kilometers in width from east to west. The island consists of andesitic lavas produced by dome-forming eruptions. The South Soufriere Hills are composed of basaltic-andesite rocks. Pyroclastic flows and fragments of volcanic rock ejected by explosions are the most significant hazards. Pyroclastic flows consist of fragments of hot lava and volcanic ash which move at high speeds of over sixty miles per hour or one hundred kilometers per hour. These explosions are intense and can cause a great deal of destruction and even death to those near it. Fragments of rock that are dispersed around the vicinity of the volcano can cause injury to humans as well as extensive property damage.

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About half of the island of Montserrat, specifically the volcanic region, is now a designated exclusion zone. The volcano still remains active although it has not erupted since 2010. Although the tourism industry on the island was ruined during the aftermath of the natural disaster, it has recently experienced growth due to the popularity of the volcano site. The most recent eruption occurred in February of 2010 due to a collapse of the lava dome.  Two explosions and numerous pyroclastic flows caused extensive damage to buildings. Since this eruption, there has been only ash venting and fumaroles. Today the Soufriere Hills volcanic activity sits at a low hazard level of two with falling rocks and frequent earthquakes. An observatory for volcanic activity was built to better monitor the site. There was construction of new roads as well as a new airport. The island people have even started to return to Montserrat with the decrease in volcanic activity.

Heat in Beijing

Beijing is currently experiencing higher than average temperatures, with record breaking heat expected tomorrow. Reporters on the ground say the weather feels more like summer than spring, and the 90 degree F weather they saw today is usually not seen until August. Luckily, humidity is low so the heat index will not get too high. Residents are advised to drink plenty of water and reduce time outdoors.

Read the article here.

Winter Storm Ursa Dumps Snow on Higher Elevations; Denver Officials Prepare for Impacts

Hold your horses, it’s not spring everywhere yet. Winter Storm Ursa is supposed to drop inches of snow on high elevation cities like Denver and Amarillo. Parts of Wyoming have already received up to 2 feet of snow, forcing a few roads and even a highway to shutdown because of blockage and dangerous conditions. Denver is on the move and is mobilizing preparation efforts so that they are better equipped for when Ursa finally hits. Numerous events including a golf championship are expected to be cancelled because of the projected snowfall in Colorado and the Texas Panhandle. It is always interesting to see how towns and cities handle late season snowfall, whether or not they had already shifted to a spring oriented mindset.

This man in Wyoming seems excited about the late season wonderland and appears to have the appropriate vehicles for the occasion to boot.


Happy Spring!!!

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Case Study Summary_Gordon

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.

Related imageImage result for 1995 hail storm fort worth

Life-Threatening Flash Flood Danger Elevated Through the Weekend in the Ozarks, Mississippi Valley

In the area surrounding the Mississippi Valley there is currently the potential for life-threatening flash and river flooding. The area has already received significant amounts of rain and the land is as saturated as it can get. Slow moving thunderstorms from Wednesday were responsible for this. Roads in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri were shutdown already due to extensive flooding and there has been one recorded water rescue. The weekend promises more storms and much more rain. This is compounded by the fact that the storms themselves are moving so slowly. They are dumping all their water down on already saturated land and not moving on to drier climes in a timely fashion.

Snow Storm Expected In the U.S. Plans Region

Surprisingly enough, places such as Kansas, Nebraska, Eastern Colorado and the Oklahoma panhandle are likely to get a huge amount of snow this weekend. Places such as Kansas and Nebraska are expected to get between two and eight inches of snow but Colorado and Oklahoma are expected to get around a foot of snow. An agricultural meteorologist explains that it is not that uncommon for these areas to be getting snow this time of the year but its the amount of snow expected is unusual. Because of the cold temperatures reaching those regions, it is expected to damage 20% of the regions wheat crop for the harvest season. Flooding is also a risk for the area because with snow comes the water when the snow melts and farmers are worried about all of their crops failing. Temperatures are then expected to reach the 70’s which should help dry up some of the rain and snow expected to fall. This article really made me think about the cause of the rapid temperature changes and I am wondering why there is so much snow falling in this time of the year. Although the temperature doesn’t seem out of the blue, the amount is because this region often doesn’t tend to drop this much snow. I am also curious to know if farmers change the way they plant their crops in the future due to these natural occurrences as a way of protecting their crops and livelihoods.


Case Study Summary_ Giuseppe

On February 7, 2009, now known as Black Saturday, the people of Victoria, Australia were warned of a record setting heat wave with temperatures of up to 115℉, or 46℃. These extreme temperatures came at the wrong time, as the vegetation in the area had mostly dried up due to a long standing drought. Winds of up to 56 miles per hour (90 km/hr) only added fuel to these literal fires, and the combination of the dry vegetation, the extreme temperatures, and the intense winds led to 47 different major fires. 

Map of Victoria, Australia

It was a human error that started the most deadly of the 47 fires in Victoria, as a faulty power line sparked a fire that would claim 119 lives. The location of these flames was only 37 miles north of Melbourne, one of the major cities in Australia, and the capital city of the state of Victoria. These flames were quickly blown over a nearby highway and into a forest igniting a large fire ball. Once this fireball was ignited it was too late for fireman to try and contain the flames and they too were forced to flee from the scene. This fire, renamed the Kilmore East fire, then spread quickly due to steep slopes and intense winds, racing through towns catching residents by surprise. While some residents tried to escape the flames in their cars, many were trapped in their homes. Unfortunately because of the fire’s size and temperature, even those that did manage to get on the road did not get very far as they were overtaken by the fire that reached 328 feet above the tree line and was hot enough to kill from 984 feet of radiant heat.

This map shows all of the land burned by wildfires in Victoria, Australia in the year 2009 alone. It is safe to say that the population was aware of what these fires were. It was the building codes and the warning systems- human errors which lead to so many deaths. However these human errors have been corrected as the Country Fire Authority’s website now requires better building codes, and offers information on ways to mitigate and prepare for fires as well as community programs.




I chose to study the 2003 heatwave in France. During the summer of 2015, I lived in Aix-en-Provence in the south of France. There I lived through the most extreme temperatures I had ever experienced (without A/C and in a 3 story walk-up apartment!). This was the second hottest summer on record after 2003. While I was there I would complain about the unbearable heat, but locals would tell me that it was nothing like the canicule of 2003.

The summer of 2003 was Europe’s hottest summer on record since 1543. Unusually high temperatures combined with a number of social factors turned this heat wave into a particularly deadly disaster, making it one of the ten deadliest natural disasters in Europe for the last 100 years and the worst in the last 50 years. All of Western Europe was affected, but France suffered the highest concentration and the second highest total number of casualties, where nearly 15,000 deaths were recorded between August 1st and 20th, 2003.

Urban centers, particularly Paris, experienced the highest number of fatalities. This is mainly attributed to the urban heat island effect. A combination of lack of vegetation, decreased air flow, and heat absorbent concrete can make cities significantly hotter than their surrounding area.

The single most vulnerable group were the elderly. A reported 82.5% of deaths correspond to people age 75 and above, and the average age of fatality was 85.1 years. Social connectivity also  had a major impact on mortality rate. It is estimated that over 90% of heatwave victims lived alone, and 25% of victims had no family or friends. In general, those hit the hardest by the heatwave were lower income elders living alone, although France did see a large number of deaths in retirement homes as well.

The timing of the heatwave was a huge factor. In August, many French families go on vacation, often for multiple weeks. This meant that people living alone or people with fewer resources were left behind at home without neighbors. This ties back into the social connectivity factor: a neighbor will often notice when something is wrong (i.e., newspapers left outside the door, no sighting in multiple days, etc). Sadly, without neighbors to check in on them, many people died alone in their apartments, and many bodies were not even discovered until vacationers returned home weeks later and smelled something wrong.

There was mass public outrage as death tolls were released to the media, and many people blamed the government for inaction. Health Ministry officials resigned, and the government devised a mitigation framework to prevent a heatwave from escalating to such a disaster in the future. For example, now vulnerable neighborhoods have cooling stations, and retirement homes are required to have air conditioning. Most importantly authorities now use an alert system that predicts a heatwave three days in advance and broadcasts repetitive warning messages through the media. Another shift in their heat-related emergency preparedness is the change in public perception. After witnessing the horrors of 2003, French citizens know to take heat seriously and to look out for each other.