Fairdale and Rochelle, Illinois, Tornado Debris Found up to 80 miles away

An EF4 tornado last Thursday ripped through the towns of Fairdale and Rochelle, Illinois, destroying homes and businesses. The tornado left a 30 miles long path in 41 minutes. Two people were killed. Debris was lofted as far as 80 miles away, as far as southeast Wisconsin.

A Facebook page called Fairdale Illinois Tornado Facebook page (link at bottom) was created to help reunite photos and other personal items found with their owners. The page now has more than 3,932 likes.


Among the possessions on the page was the sign for the Grubsteakers Family Restaurant in north Rochelle, which was demolished by the tornado. The sign was found in a farmer’s field in Harvard, Illinois, 49 miles to the northeast of where the tornado hit. A photo was recovered in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin about 60 miles northeast of the tornado path. A photo of a check was also found 80 miles away in Racine, Wisconsin. Also in Racine a family photo was found.


Other items found were a children’s book and a photo that was identified of Mr. and Mrs. Clem Shultz of Fairdale, taken 25 years ago. Interesting enough, Geraldine Shultz was one of the two people killed in the tornado. But the photo was returned to Mr. Shultz, her husband.


To give some perspective on this, large, violent tornados (EF4 and EF5s) have often lifted debris hundreds of feet in the air, and in the case of this tornado “Tornadoes have been reported to carry an object at least as heavy as 83 tons, in the case of a railroad car,” said Dr. Greg Forbes, a severe weather expert. Since April 27, 2011, a total of 44 items have been found to have traveled at least 135 miles from their original source because of a tornado. A mattress was once blown 40 miles from Worcester Massachusetts, into Massachusetts Bay on June 9, 1953.


Link to the Facebook page- https://www.facebook.com/pages/Found-Items-from-the-Fairdale-Illinois-Tornado/1438568889774105

To see the sign and some photos- http://www.weather.com/storms/tornado/news/fairdale-rochelle-illinois-tornado-debris-found

Next Step in Pacific Disaster Response

As New Zealand still recovers from Cyclone Pam, Red Cross staff from around the Pacific met in Suva, New Zealand, this weekend to coordinate their responses. In light of what happened in New Zealand, the head of the pacific delegation for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, Aurelia Balpe, said that disasters affect countries in different ways and that they needed to tailor their input to the extreme weather events to each community’s needs and contexts.

For Cyclone Pam, the IFRC (International Federation of the Red Cross) aimed to raise nearly 6 million (in US dollars) to aid 81,000 people in 13,400 households. Additional relief aid would come in the form of clothing, help with water supply and sanitation.

Jacqueline De Gaillande, The Vanuatu Red Cross Society’s chief executive, said that the weekend this meeting was “an opportunity to learn from each other and ensure that the next steps in the response were as effective as effective as they could be.”


This relates well to our hazards class because we’re interested in the steps taken after a disaster to help prevent and mitigate future disaster in the future and to have the best response to a disaster. A lot that we learned in this class was directly related to learning from mistakes made in response to past hazards. Learning from that, we’re able to better prepare in the present and the future.



Good News for Drought-Stricken California- Rain, Snow, in Next Week’s Forecast


A low pressure system approaching California late Sunday brings with it the chance for rain and snow to the west. This chance is highly anticipated, as 98.1 percent of the state of California has been experiencing from moderate to severe drought since March 31. The rainfall is expected to be light (only accumulating about 1 inch through Wednesday) and do little to help the severe drought, but any rain is welcomed. The Sierra Nevadas, at higher elevations, are expected to receive some much-needed snowfall. The water content of their snowpack was only five percent as of the April 1 average, which is the lowest percentage ever recorded. Another low pressure system is expected to push through Tuesday and Thursday, bringing more moisture than the first.



Magnitude 7.5 Earthquake Strikes off the Coast of Papua New Guinea; Tsunami Alert Issued

On Monday morning local time (Sunday night in the U.S.) , a 7.5 magnitude earthquake stuck 34 miles southeast of Kokopo, Papua New Guinea. The U.S. Geological Survey reported the earthquake’s magnitude as a 7.7 with a depth of 25 miles. Shortly after the earthquake, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was a potential tsunami threat of dangerous waves possible within a span of 621 miles along the coasts of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. However, this threat has since past since the earthquake hit on Monday. A Papua New Guinea’s National Disaster Center official said there have been no damage or injuries reported in result of the earthquake. However, after the initial tremor 13 aftershocks have been reported in the nearby areas, ranging from 4.6 to 5.7 in magnitude.


(Kokopo is located south east of Rabaul, New Britian on map)th




Tornadoes hit Oklahoma, Arkansas; One dead, several injured

First tornadoes of 2015 hit Arkansas and Oklahoma

One person was killed and several people were injured in a tornado that hit Tulsa, Oklahoma yesterday. At least 9 people were hospitalized due to injuries, according to Oklahoma Department of Emergency Services Spokeswomen Keli Cain. Tulsa County Sheriff Cap. Billy McKevley said that the one person killed live in the mobile home park in Sand Spring, a Tulsa suburb. “It could have been much worse.” He said.


This tornado is the first in a month in the tornado-prone Midwest. In the nearby town of Moore, Oklahoma, another tornado hit, tearing off roofs, flipping cars on the highway, and strewing debris across the area. It tore off the roof of an elementary school in Moore and filled many of the classrooms with water. Tens of thousands of Oklahoma residents were without power in the wake of the storm that caused the tornado.


Governor Mary Fallin declared 25 counties in a state of emergency. In accessing damage, Fallin said, “We’ve been down this road before. We know what to do.” Of the tornado Wednesday, Mayor of nearby town Moore, Glenn Lewis, described the tornado Wednesday as “kind of like a junior storm for us.”


My thoughts on this article:

The community official’s nonchalant attitude towards the tornado alarms me. They are so confident in handling such storms, but then again they’re so accustomed to tornados. I can only hope that they’re properly prepared for the damage and the death a tornado can inflict. I also thought it was interesting that the article says that the last time there were almost no tornados in March was 50 years ago. I wonder if that will be “made up for” as to say, in the coming months this year.




Cyclone Kills at least 8 in Pacific Nation of Vanuatu

A massive category 5 cyclone bringing with it 168 mph winds tore through the tiny south Pacific archipelago of Vanuatu on Saturday. Vanuatu, which is located about a quarter of the way from Australia to Hawaii has a population of 267,000 spread over 65 islands, and about 47,000 live in the capital, Port Villa. The cyclone, which hit the Islands on March 14, 2015, killed a confirmed number of 8 people. The death told is expected to rise as more deaths are confirmed. Because of communication being down it is still unconfirmed how much damages the surrounding outer islands suffered. But Chloe Morrison, a World Vision emergency communications officer in Port Villa say that it is estimated that entire villages were destroyed in the cyclone. Because communication is still down it is hard to access the damage. UN Secretary General Ban Kimoon expressed hope that “the loss of life will be minimal” yet admitted he feared the damage and destruction could be widespread. The president of Vanuatu, Baldwin Lonsdale, attended the UN conference and announced to those there, “I stand to appeal on behalf of the government and the people to give a helping hand in this disaster.” On Saturday, New Zealand pledged $734,000 to help with relief efforts and Australia was preparing to send a critical response team if necessary, according to Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.


Associated Press. “Cyclone Kills at least 8 in Pacific Nation of Vanuatu” Richmond Times Dispatch. (Richmond) 15 March 2015: Print.



4.0 Earthquake Shakes Kosovo, Serbia


The Seismology Survey of Serbia reported that a 4.0 earthquake hit Serbia on Tuesday, January 20 2015. The epicenter was in Pec city in western Kosovo and was 6.2 miles deep. 15 minutes later an earthquake with a 2.6 magnitude was recorded. This epicenter was located 16 miles west of Istok, Kosovo. No damage or injuries have been reported from the earthquake. The last time an earthquake killed any one in Serbia was in November 2010, in a magnitude 5.3 earthquake.



This earthquake didn’t have an major disastrous effects, but I think it’s important to acknowledged it happen so that Serbia and other countries can better prepare for future earthquakes. I thought this was interesting because there was 5.8 magnitude earthquake near where I lived and I remember the damage this caused in the epicenter, Louisa, Virginia. In the 2010 earthquake in Serbia, which was a magnitude 5.3 earthquake, 2 people were killed and about 100 were injured. The epicenter was in central Serbia, near the capital, and many buildings were harmed and parts of the city went without water and electricity. It’s interesting to compare the impact of earthquakes in two vastly different parts of the world. It makes me wonder how developed Serbia is and what would have happened if the recent January 20 earthquake had been of greater magnitude and had caused more damage/deaths.



“2 Killed, 50 Injured in Earth in Serbia”. Fox News. Associated Press. 3 Nov. 2010. Web. 23 Jan 2015.


“Light Earthquake Shakes Kosovo, Serbia today”. Recent Natural Disasters. 20 Jan 2015. Web. 23 Jan 2015.


“Magnitude 5.8 Virginia.” USGS- Science for a changing world. Earthquake Hazards Program. 21, March 2014. Web. 23 Jan 2015.


Restless Aleutian volcano could erupt, scientists say

On Saturday, scientists detected seismic activity on the Aleutian Kanaga Volcano and are warning of a “sudden explosion.”  Sensors also picked up on a thin ash cloud and a code Yellow advisory has been placed.  The last time the volcano erupted was in the 90s but mostly had an effect on air travel.  The nearby town of Adak has about 330 residents, a small airfield, and several other plants and service facilities. 

Another nearby volcano, Cleveland Volcano, had an ash eruption in December after months of slow lava flow.  It continues to concern local observatories, though, and the area is currently under a code orange advisory.  The main concern with any eruption is the risk of ash disrupting air travel across the entire North American continent.

Article is on MSNBC.

Wildfires in the Panhandle and West Texas

By February 28, wildfires spread across west Texas “like a blowtorch” destroying 65 homes and over 100,000 acres of land. In the southwest and especially for Texas, this season has been particularly dry with the average precipitation falling well below average. According to the site posted on the follow-up blog, also from MSNBC, the Soil Moisture Analysis by the Climate Prediction Center shows that the moisture content fell lower than normal even at two meters below the surface.

In addition, the high winds over the past week have proven to be problematic by spreading the wildfires further. The property loss is immense for the small towns area. Furthermore, because of the smoke engulfing the roads, an car accident occurred in which a five year old girl died. This shows that not only are the immediate effects of the event dangerous, but also the secondary consequential effects. The MSNBC article describes personal accounts of the residents in the fire’s path.

Stunned Texas Find Homes Destroyed by Wildfires