The 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina

Ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina destroyed several cities surrounding the Gulf of Mexico. New Orleans and Morgan City in Louisiana; Mobile, Alabama; and Biloxi, Mississippi are some of the places that were hit hard. All of the places in between these cities were demolished, too.

What many people don’t know, and what I just found out from visiting New Orleans this week, is that Katrina did not actually hit the city of New Orleans. The Big Easy was flooded with water due to the levees and flood walls collapsing – putting the city underwater. If the city had been more protected, hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses still may be standing today.

President Barack Obama and Former President, George W. Bush both visited New Orleans in honor of the ten year anniversary. This means a lot of the residents down there. When my friends and I were visiting New Orleans earlier this week, we observed several businesses and people having hometown pride and honoring those who were lost. Hurricane Katrina was one of the deadliest and most costliest storms to hit the United States.

Click here to view the Hurricane Katrina: Then and now slideshow from CNN.com.

Lightning injures Army Ranger School students and instructors

Forty Ranger school students and four Ranger school instructors were injured by a lightning strike during a lightning protection protocol training on Wednesday. Nine students and two instructors remained hospitalized overnight to ensure they were okay. Fortunately, no one suffered serious injuries.  All 44 soldiers returned to duty on Thursday.

The lightning struck at approximately 4:55 p.m. Central time on Wednesday at Eglin Air Force Base in northern Florida. The students were two-thirds away from completing the last phase of Ranger School, the Florida Phase (also called the Swamp Phase).

Light in dark red sky. Source: iStock The United State Army Ranger School is an extremely rough combat leadership course that lasts for 61 days. There are three phases that must be completed: Fort Benning Phase, Mountain Phase, and Florida Phase (to read more about these phases and what they include, click here). Ranger School is the Army’s most challenging course. The school is assured to test a student’s abilities to focus mentally and physically under extreme conditions. The daily fight to stay awake and go without food for long periods of time is just the beginning of the strenuous situations the students go through. Losing tremendous amounts of weight and ruck marching for almost 15-20 miles a day takes a large toll on the body. Each student, successful or not, returns to their unit as a more experienced Soldier and has become an established leader.

I had my very own experience with Ranger School as my husband, my boyfriend at the time, enrolled in this course. He left October 9, 2011 and passed each phase on the first try. He completed the school and graduated on December 9, 2011. This is also a difficult time on relationships as the only way to communicate with the Ranger is through writing letters, with the exception of quick phone calls at the end of each phase. So not only do the soldiers go through the agony of the phases above, but they also are disconnected from family and friends. As I stated above, each student who attends this course will always come back a stronger person and a great leader.

Sources: USA Today and Army Times

Amazing Clouds on Lake Delta

One of my best friends, Paige, sent me these beautiful photos of the clouds over Lake Delta, NY this evening. She told me the pictures do not do justice for what her and our other friends, John and Sarah, could see in person. I wish I could have been there to see it live, but here are the pictures she sent me below…so captivating!

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Stormy Weather in Columbus, Georgia

After months of moving, getting married, going on a honeymoon, and moving again, I’m finally back! We just got to our new hometown of Columbus, Georgia late last night. There is a lot more information on our lives to come, but just wanted to share the stormy weather we are experiencing today/tonight. Click here to see my video on Twitter (can’t get the video to upload on here). This tweet landed me a retweet from Jim Cantore! Lots of thunder, lightning, and downpours have been occurring all throughout the day today. What an eventful start to a new chapter in our lives!

My ABC11 Eyewitness News experience

I had the opportunity to shadow ABC11 Eyewitness News Reporter, Nicole Carr, for the day. I met Nicole back in April 2015 when Fort Bragg Federal Credit Union hosted its first ever Scavenger Hunt. My boss and I put the Scavenger Hunt together and got over 1300 new followers on social media from its popularity. You can read more about the Scavenger Hunt and the interview we had with Nicole by clicking here. Nicole is very outgoing and friendly, so I thought I would take a shot at asking her if I could come in for the day to explore the life of a reporter. I was absolutely elated when she gladly said yes.

I have always been interested in working for a news station or The Weather Channel®. I find the work to be unexpected and fun, which is exactly how it was when I came in that day to shadow Nicole.

We planned on having a calm morning and Nicole was going to show me how the reporters go about their day at the office, but like she said, you never know what your day is going to be like when you get into work. As soon as we got to the office, Nicole got a call that she had to go to the location of a murder investigation right here in Fayetteville. I followed the ABC11 Eyewitness News van to the scene.

Little was known about the murder and what exactly happened when we arrived. The scene was filled with sheriffs, news reporters, photographers, and strangers asking about what happened. The house was blocked off by caution tape and police cars. Residents had to consult the sheriffs before heading into their neighborhood.

As more information was coming in, we found out that a 28-year-old was shot and killed while his girlfriend was tied up. The girlfriend was able to untie herself and call 911. She was lucky to be alive; however, the three masked men who robbed the home and killed her boyfriend are still on the loose.

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A woman who lives close back to the murder location stopped to ask what was going on. She said it is hard to tell if anything bad ever happens there because gun shots are always being fired due to people killing crows or other animals who may “disturb” their land. She also said she was robbed twice since she lived there.

As the day went on I got to experience this sad story come to life, but I also got to witness how news reporting works. Nicole had to search for witnesses and try to gather more for the developing story, but we came up empty. Nicole had to report live at noon at then again at 12:30 p.m. while I was shadowing her. I got to put the receiver in my ear and listen in on the cues and news anchors sharing stories. It was a very cool experience. It was strange to listen to the news that way instead of watching it on TV like I do every morning. It was thrilling! Nicole also showed me how she has to write up a script for each story she is involved in as well as record and edit footage to be packaged for upcoming news segments.

Nicole gave me some great tips on news reporting and I am glad I got to spend the day with her. Although a sad and unfortunate story was occurring, that day showed me that I truly do enjoy the news and love everything about it. You get to travel and meet new people everywhere you go. I think the most important part about being involved with the news is that you learn something new each day. You can never fill your brain with too much information!

Keep Pets Safe in Extreme Heat

The extreme heat conditions during the summer months can be detrimental to your pets. It is important to take caution when taking your pets outside, bringing them for a ride in the car, leaving them outside while you go shopping, and all of the other instances where your pets leave the house. Even if your pets do not leave the house on hot days, it is still highly suggested that you ensure your pet is hydrated at all times and has ample access to air conditioning. I’ve heard several sad stories from this week alone of pets suffering heat strokes and passing away from the hot conditions. Please be mindful of your pets and remember to keep them safe!

Right now in Fayetteville, North Carolina it is 102 degrees. It has been between 96 and 102 degrees each day this week so far, and it may cool down a bit in the upcoming days, but only to about 92 degrees. The humidity does not help us either!

While some people enjoy this weather and make it out to be a fun day at the pool or the beach, most of us get very tired and miserable from this weather (I’m definitely one of the tired and miserable ones). I have a hard time being outside when it is THAT hot. I know my three-year-old dog, Scrappy (a lab/pit mix), is not a fan of this weather either. We take one lap around the block and he is ready to go back inside and hang out on the cool tile floor all day. My 11-year-old foster dog, Eli, is also not a fan of the heat. He has LOTS of fur and is only 14 lbs. During this weather we all take shorter walks and spend less time outside. We also drink plenty of water!

Here are some great tips to keep your pets safe during these hot and humid summer months:

1) KEEP YOUR PET HYDRATED. I cannot express enough how vital this is. If your pet is not hydrated it will increase his or her risk of suffering a heat stroke.

2) PROVIDE THE PROPER AIR AND SHADE. Do NOT leave your pet outside on hot and humid days. Even if your dog has shade, or even a dog house, he or she can still suffer a heat stroke (sometimes these areas can get hotter). It is best to leave your pet inside and provide air conditioning and fans to help keep your pet(s) cool. Just leaving a fan on will not do justice; it is best to have air circulating throughout the house.

3) DON’T BRING YOUR DOGS IN THE CAR. Too many times people bring their pet(s) to daycare or to a friend’s house and  forget they are in the car. I just heard of a story yesterday where a woman was coming home from grocery shopping and her dogs jumped in the car as she was unloading her purchases. She didn’t notice they jumped in the car and unfortunately both of them suffered a heat stroke. Even when it is 70 degrees outside, it is still dangerous to leave your pet in the car. The temperatures rise VERY quickly in automobiles. During these times, do not even think about putting your pet in the car. You may think “I could never forget my dog is in the car” – but unfortunately this happens to the best of animal lovers quite often.

4) HUMIDITY MAKES THE HEAT WORSE. Always check the humidity, too. When it is very humid outside it can make it hard for your pet to breathe and get the proper ventilation in his or her body. Their body temperatures will increase rapidly.

5) LIMIT OUTDOOR/EXERCISE ACTIVITY. It is best to keep your pets inside and limit their exercise during the hot times. Making them too tired and dehydrated, again, increases their risk of suffering a heat stroke.

6) WATCH FOR SIGNS OF A HEAT STROKE. The Humane Society of the United States says “Extreme temperatures can cause heatstroke. Some signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness. Animals are at particular risk for heat stroke if they are very old, very young, overweight, not conditioned to prolonged exercise, or have heart or respiratory disease. Some breeds of dogs—like boxers, pugs, shih tzus, and other dogs and cats with short muzzles—will have a much harder time breathing in extreme heat.”

How do you treat a pet when he or she suffers a heat stroke? Take him/her directly to a veterinarian. Move your pet into the shade or an air-conditioned area. Apply ice packs or cold towels to her head, neck, and chest or run cool (not cold) water over her. Let her drink small amounts of cool water or lick ice cubes (Source: The Humane Society of the United States).

I hope you read this and take it seriously. Pets are family, too – they deserve to have the same care as us humans! For more tips on keeping your pet safe in the heat, check out this article from The Humane Society of the United States.

A Lightning Show from a Plane

There were strong thunderstorms in the Midwest last weekend. A couple of friends and I were in Galena, Illinois for our friend’s wedding. That Saturday, the day of the wedding, was a beautiful day for an outside wedding ceremony. Becca and John (the bride and groom) definitely had someone looking out for them on that glorious day!

The weather quickly turned quite the opposite right after the reception, luckily. Galena was hit with a very windy and loud thunderstorm. The rain was pounding the building and it was impossible to sleep, but it only lasted about an hour. 

The weather was gloomy on Sunday. Two of my friends, Gillian and Sandy, drove from Galena to Chicago to catch our flights home. While the day in Illinois was drizzly and dark, nothing became severe until we all got to the airport. 

Sandy had a layover in Kansas City. Her flight kept getting delayed because of the weather. She finally left Kansas City about three hours after her flight was scheduled. Despite delaying the trip home due to weather, it appeared that the stormy systems weren’t ready to die off. 

The thunderstorms continued as Sandy’s flight left Kansas City and was making its way to Boston. Sandy said the lightning was crazy and she couldn’t believe what she was seeing. She took the video I posted below of the storm, but she said it really doesn’t show how intense it really was. She was kind of nervous flying with the storm so close, but she said it made for great entertainment on her flight home!

Texas Flood Disaster Radar and Satellite Images

Texas has had it rough this past month. The residents there have not been able to catch a break from the severe weather. I found an article on www.weather.com that provided seven radar and satellite images of the Texas weather that were quite shocking. I thought these were pretty intense. I hope that Texas gets a break soon from the mess that have been challenged with.

Article: http://www.weather.com/storms/severe/news/texas-flooding-disaster-radar-satellite-photos

Flooding in Texas (Source: http://www.weather.com)

Beautiful Stormy Skies 

Fayetteville and other parts of central North Carolina had stormy weather tonight. Check out these gorgeous photos I took from my balcony!

   
 
It has been awhile since I have been able to write a lot on here. Life has been a little rough. We lost our angel of a dog, Toby. It was very unexpected as he had a lung lobe torsion which came quickly out of nowhere. He was about to go into surgery, but he went into cardiac arrest before they could do anything. They were unable to revive him. It was, and still is, such a shocking and terrible feeling. My fiancé is deployed so that has made it even harder. He couldn’t be there to say goodbye.

Toby was our first dog together. He was a rescue from a local shelter. He was abused by his previous owner and needed a lot of help. He had come such a long way and we miss him so much. Our other dog, Scrappy, has been very depressed. He misses his brother. We know it’ll never get easier to miss him; we have lost so many pets over the years. We can’t wait until we see our Toby again.

Toby really was an angel. Everyone knew that. Now Toby is up there giving us this beautiful sky tonight. We know he is looking down on us! We love you, Toby! 

    

HUGE Hail Stones!

Last night, there were several areas in central North Carolina who were hit with major thunderstorms. The hail that came down with theses storms was gigantic. Some reports said the hail stones were about the size of a golf ball, where others reported some as large as baseballs! The photo below was submitted to ABC11’s website by an eyewitness viewer.

hail-zebulon2

The lightning and hail from these storms was quite the show. ABC11 Meteorologist Don “Big Weather” Schwenneker said there were over 1,000 cloud-to-ground lightning strikes in the Cumberland and Harnett county areas around 6:00 a.m. this morning.

We will expect to see more storms tonight into tomorrow. Friday is shaping up to have some severe storms, too!

Click here to read more about these storms and see pictures of the dangerous hail that was reported.