Thursday, May 03, 2018

Because Sometimes There's No Warning

NOAA SPC Severe Forecast For May 3rd


The 2018 Atlantic Hurricane season (June 1st-Nov 30th) is less than a month away, and the month of May often sees the peak of the spring tornado season across the Midwest, but the following story today from the BBC from Northern India is a reminder that unusually severe weather can occur anytime, and anywhere, without warning.

Dust storms kill nearly 100 in northern India

At least 95 people have died and scores more injured in fierce dust storms that hit the northern Indian states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

The storms on Wednesday disrupted electricity, uprooted trees, destroyed houses and killed livestock.

Many of the dead were sleeping when their houses collapsed after being struck by intense bursts of lightning.

Dust storms are common in this part of India during summer but loss of life on this scale is unusual.
        (Continue . . . .)

While one might be tempted to dismiss this sort of tragedy as something that happens in third world nations, with a death toll exacerbated by poor construction methods, during the summer of 2012, a powerful Derecho swept across the Mid-Atlantic states (see Picking Up The Pieces), killing 15 and leaving nearly 4 million people without power, some for more than 2 weeks. 
While 15 people died during the storm, at least 32 more died of heat-related illnesses in the two weeks that followed (see 2013 MMWR: Heat-Related Deaths After an Extreme Heat Event — Four States, 2012, and United States, 1999–2009).
During a three day period (Apr 25th-28th) of 2011 a storm system of epic proportions spawned 351 confirmed tornadoes across five southern states, killing 338 persons in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee

This was the the third deadliest tornado outbreak in U.S. History, killing at least 321 people. More than a dozen of these twisters reached intensities of 4 or 5 on the Enhanced Fujita [EF] scale, which can produce near total devastation.

Before and after imagery depicting tornado damage in the vicinity of the intersection of 15th St. E. and McFarland Blvd. E. in southeast Tuscaloosa, AL. The before imagery is courtesy of Google, the after imagery was acquired from an altitude of 5,000 feet above ground level by the NOAA King Air April 29, 2011.

Although severe weather warnings were issued, these disasters occurred with little notice.  Those who were already prepared likely fared better than those who were not.

Which is why every home and office should have a NOAA weather radio. Once thought of as mainly a source of local weather information, it has now become an `All-Hazards' alert system as well.
Having a safe place to go in your home during a tornado can be life saving.  A basement is best, but an interior hallway or windowless room may provide some protection as well.
In 2012 the CDC’s MMWR issued an analysis of the 2011 massive tornado outbreak, that stressed the importance of safe rooms (see Tornado-Related Fatalities — Five States, Southeastern United States, April 25–28, 2011).

FEMA has a good deal of advice on exactly how to construct a safe room – either above or below ground.
Residential Safe Rooms

The information below will help you understand how having a safe room in your home can protect your family and save the lives of those you care about.
Find answers to your Questions about Building a Safe Room, including:What is the cost of installing a safe room?
Can I install a safe room in an existing home?
Can I build the safe room myself?
Where is the best location for the safe room?
Where can I find plans for safe room construction? And more....
Having a good (and well rehearsed) family emergency plan is essential for any disaster.  Even with a safe room, family members could become separated (they may be sent to different hospitals or shelters) in the post-disaster chaos.
Some may be injured and unable to provide information about their families.
So it is important to set up a plan, including meeting places and out-of-state contacts, and individual wallet information cards -  before you need it (see #NatlPrep : Create A Family Communications Plan).

Together with adequate emergency supplies, a solid first aid kit, and an emergency battery operated NWS Weather Radio, these steps will go a long ways to protecting you, and your family, from a wide variety of potential disasters.

For more on all of this, a partial list of some of my preparedness blogs include:
When 72 Hours Isn’t Enough

In An Emergency, Who Has Your Back?

#NatlPrep: The Gift Of Preparedness 2017

Editor's Note:  I'll be away from my desk today, and so this will be my only post for today.

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