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Another Major Storm Hits the South… Winter Storm Pax! February 17, 2014

Posted by vpillmore in Severe, Winter, Winter Storm Pax.
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This winter has been pretty intense for most of the USA this year. The south eastern parts of the country have seen very cold temperatures and a couple of snow storms, which is not a normal winter for southerners. Living in North Carolina for a over a year has been quite interesting. I’m from Rome, NY, so when southerners get nervous about winter weather, I usually think it’s nothing to worry about… until Winter Storm Pax arrived. I can honestly say that Winter Storm Pax was a dangerous storm and even people from up North would say the same! From getting an inch of snow an hour to almost two inches of solid ice on the roads, this storm was epic to say the least.

It was definitely an epic storm for Jim Cantore.  I tweeted him a picture of the icy roads here in Fayetteville, NC and he replied! This obviously made my day. I was so excited!

Jim Cantore replied to my tweet!

Jim Cantore replied to my tweet!

If you read my previous post about Winter Storm Leon occurring on the day before and day of Sable’s birthday, you will also want to know that Winter Storm Pax came around the time Sable had passed away. I think this is her way of saying everything will be okay! Also as I said before, I never get lucky to experience bad weather, and she is allowing me to do so!

Since I had two snow days in a row due to the weather, I had some time to capture some photos of the storm. Take a look below! You will also see my dogs, Toby and Scrappy, playing in the snow – Toby loves it as he is part husky, but Scrappy isn’t a fan of the cold!

Winter Storm Leon February 6, 2014

Posted by vpillmore in Weather, Winter.
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Mike Seidel & I

Last week, Winter Storm Leon brought The Weather Channel to Fayetteville, NC! Since North Carolina isn’t used to the snow, many of the local businesses and schools were closed almost the whole week. Lucky for me, my business was closed, which gave me the opportunity to go downtown and watch Mike Seidel report the weather live! It was such a fun day and I feel so happy that I got to talk to Seidel and take a photo with him.

Another important fact about this day, January 29th, was that it was Sable’s birthday. Sable is my dog who passed away last February due to a long-term illness. The day she passed, North Carolina got snow… and it stuck! We had a few flurries here and there after that, but nothing too wild. Then, the week of Sable’s birthday, I saw on The Weather Channel that Winter Storm Leon was coming. I knew this was a sign that Sable was letting me know she is doing okay.

Everyone who knows me knows that I do not have good luck when it comes to storms. Most people would say I am lucky to never see a major storm, but I think differently. I would love to be around more storms! I have missed earthquakes, dust storms, hail storms, hurricanes, etc. I legitimately get upset when I miss out on all the weather action. So when I heard we were getting snow down here in NC, I knew this was Sable bringing the storm for me. Not only did she bring me the storm, but she gave me the opportunity to see Mike Seidel. What a great day! And a special thank you to my best friend, Sable – love and miss you always.

Sable was the happiest, craziest and best dog I've ever had. <3

Sable was the happiest, craziest and best dog I’ve ever had. <3

Superstorm Sandy October 30, 2012

Posted by vpillmore in Beach, Blizzard, Hurricane Sandy, Severe, Superstorm Sandy, Tropical Storm, Uncategorized, Weather, Wind.
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When the news came out that Hurricane Sandy was going to be historic, many didn’t believe the meteorologists. People, including my own friends and family, said the Weather Channel was just building up this storm too much. I, however, knew this storm was going to be epic. I followed the Weather Channel every minute of the day that I could. If I woke up in the middle of the night, I’d check for updates, just to make sure I didn’t miss a thing. When the Sandy made landfall, it got very hard to keep up with the news..only because most of it was so devastating. The storm was and still is going strong, but the damage it has brought to Cuba, Jamaica, Bermuda and the United States’ east coast was unbelievable.

My friend Jamie is just as obsessed with the weather as I am. Each hour we were giving each other updates on what we heard or experienced with the storm. We also made sure we kept in touch with our friends in the New York City area to be sure they were taking the proper precautions of the storm and most importantly, to reassure them to take this storm seriously.

I knew the storm was going to be terrifying because another one of my friends, Laci, told me about the wind and flooding going on around her condo in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The most important part about this was that the storm did not even make landfall at this point, but it was still causing damaging winds and flooding to surrounding areas. Laci sent me a couple photos of the flooding that was STILL occurring after the storm had passed Florida and made its way to the North Carolina coast. That was when I realized how massive this storm really was.

flooding in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Once Sandy made it to the North Carolina coast, my boyfriend Ryan and I immediately decided to drive to Wrightsville Beach to experience the epic storm. While the storm was not at full potential yet, the winds and waves were still very intense. I walked on the beach for about five minutes before I was completely drenched and full of sand. Again, this is when the storm was not even close to shore yet nor at its full potential.

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My day was made when I put my photos up on Instagram and added the hashtag #iWitnessWeather and received a ‘like’ from the Weather Channel. I had been trying to get their attention for so long – it was awesome to feel noticed for my work! :)

At first I was upset I was not at my home in Rome, NY to experience this massive hurricane, but I quickly changed my mind once Jamie had sent me a video of the waves hitting the coast of Rhode Island. At that point, there were wind gusts of 86 mph were recorded -BEFORE the storm made landfall! It also had 18-24 hours until the storm was going to hit land.

Meteorologists were unsure of where it would actually arrive on land, they were thinking right around New Jersey and Delaware. But when early evening hit on Monday, Sandy made landfall right off of the New Jersey coast.

What many people forget about this storm was that it collided with an arctic storm, causing winter storm warnings in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia and parts of western North  Carolina. So we had a mix of snow, rain, wind, thunderstorms, and much more that became components of Sandy.

So many disasters occurred Monday evening. It made it hard to watch the Weather Channel and the news: learning about the dangling crane, injuries and deaths, the power outage at the NYU hospital that forced patients to evacuate, flooded subway stations and the Breezy Point fire – and that is just some of the news. Before I went to bed, about 1 million people were without power. When I woke up, nearly 6.5 million people were without power. Less than an hour later, over 8 million people were without power. This is twice the amount of power outages compared to Hurricane Irene, which destroyed the east coast last October.

The scary part about today is, Sandy is still not over.

Hurricane Sandy……the beginning. October 28, 2012

Posted by vpillmore in Beach, Hurricane Sandy, Rain, Severe, Tropical Storm, Uncategorized, Weather, Wind.
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Image

After destroying most of Cuba and Jamaica, Hurricane Sandy has made her way up the southeast coast. She has flooded Miami and left many stranded. Yesterday, I drove to Wrightsville Beach, NC to experience some of the upcoming storm surge. The waves were almost 12 feet high!….and that is while the storm is not even on land yet. We will see what happens when Sandy makes landfall and collides with two other storms creating…FRANKENSTORM.

First snowfall of the year at St. Bonaventure University November 1, 2011

Posted by vpillmore in Uncategorized.
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On October 27th, St. Bonaventure University saw its first snowfall of the year. The snow did not stick to the ground, however it provided a beautiful, unique scene for students, staff and faculty to see the snow fall on the autumn trees and hills.

When will the first major snowstorm hit south western New York State? We can only guess, but by the looks of the upcoming Nor’easter – it could be very, very soon.

First snowfall at SBU. Difficult to see the snow falling, but look closely and you can see it!

All this talk about weather, and not enough about safety! September 28, 2011

Posted by vpillmore in Blizzard, Earthquake, FEMA, Flood, Severe, Thunderstorm, Tornado, Weather.
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In my previous posts, I have talked a little about weather safety tips but not enough. It is surprising to me when I talk to people and they do not know or understand the safety precautions to take when severe weather hits their local area. Extreme weather can happen anywhere at any given moment, and it is important to be prepared. This post will give you some safety tips for the most common severe weather trends.

First off, it is important to know the difference between a watch and a warning. A watch means it is possible for the event to happen in your area. A warning means this event IT IS going to hit your area.  For example, a severe thunderstorm watch means there is a possibly a storm may occur; but if the warning comes out then you will definitely be seeing this storm.

Severe Thunderstorm. If a severe thunderstorm is in your area…

  • Stay inside, preferably a room with little to no windows. It is important to stay away from windows because lightning can strike and go through the glass. Also, if there are high wind gusts a window can break and hurt you.
  • Try not to travel. With possible high wind gusts, hail and flooding, you can get injured.
  • If you are stuck outside, try to find shelter. STAY AWAY FROM TREES. Trees are known for being struck by lightning and falling over. Try to find a building or tunnel.
  • Always have a few flashlights with functioning batteries in your home incase an unexpected storm comes and the power goes out. Try to have candles and matches as well just incase something goes wrong with the flashlights. If the power does go out, do not open the refrigerator  unless necessary. By opening the fridge, you are allowing the cold air to get out and your food will go bad.
  • Do not use the phone, take a shower, or anything else that uses gas or electricity.

Tornado. If a tornado is in your area…

  • Follow the same exact instructions as above.
  • Seek shelter IMMEDIATELY.
  • Go to your basement or storm cellar. If you do not have one, get to the lowest elevation possible.
  • If you are stuck outside, try to find a ditch. A tornado will most likely go right over it and not hurt you. But it is obviously better to be inside.
  • If you live in an area where tornadoes are constant (i.e. My sister lives in Tennessee and they have almost nonstop tornadoes in the summer), be prepared ahead of time. Get extra food and water to keep you and your family healthy incase you go a long time without power.
  • Listen to radio news updates.

Below is a YouTube video I found from the deadly Joplin, Missouri tornado (May 2011).

Tropical Storm and/or Hurricane. If either of these are in your area…

  • Secure your home. Try to board windows and doors before the storm comes.
  • If you have a boat or floatation device, try to prepare that before the storm comes. This can help you get around incase it is necessary for you to leave your home.
  • Shut your electricity and gas off in your home.
  • If possible do your best to evacuate before the storm, otherwise you may never leave.
  • Listen to radio news updates.

Extreme, Excessive Heat. If you are stuck in high temperatures…

  • STAY HYDRATED. This is the most important. Heat can do a lot of damage to your body. If you are hydrated you can save yourself some health problems.
  • Avoid eating hot foods, such as soup. This will increase your body temperature.
  • Stay inside on the lowest floor. Heat rises, so the higher in the building or house you are, the warmer it will be.
  • If you have to be outside, wear thin clothing and less layers. A good example would be a thin tank top and thin gym shorts. Also, do not wear dark clothing. Dark colors attract the sun more and will bring more heat to your body.

Severe Winter Conditions/Blizzard. If you severe winter conditions are in your area…

  • Stay inside and keep warm. If you know a storm is coming, try to get as much food and water as you can before it hits. Many winter storms can produce several feet of snow, which can trap you in your home.
  • Eat warm foods, such as soup – or drink some hot chocolate.
  • If you are stuck outside, cover your mouth and keep dry. Being wet will make you more cold, making you more prone to hypothermia. Be sure to look for signs of frostbite and hypothermia constantly. If you are with someone you can stay warm by putting your body skin on each other.

    A photo from the 2006 "October Surprise" snow storm in Buffalo, NY.

To read safety procedures for floods and earthquakes, check out my previous blog posts. For more tips on each of the above weather trends log on to the FEMA: Disasters & Maps website. Here you can read about all the types of disasters and learn what to do before, during and after they occur.

Have a disaster story? Feel free to share!

A Rainforest and a Glacier..in the same place? September 28, 2011

Posted by vpillmore in Glacier, Hike, New Zealand, Rainforest, Southern Alps, Weather.
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Not many people can say they hiked a glacier. Fortunately, I had the exciting experience of doing so.

As I have mentioned in my previous blog posts, I spent my Australian spring break on the South Island of New Zealand. Our tour group went to Fox Glacier, where we hiked up, around and down the historic glacier. It was a very exhausting walk but it was well worth it, and I would suggest everyone try it someday.

How does climbing a glacier relate to the weather? According to the West Coast of the Southern Alps website, approximately 140 glaciers flow through the Southern Alps; however, only the Fox and Franz Josef glaciers go about 250 meters above sea level and are accompanied by a temperate rainforest. Besides Argentina, this is the only other place you can experience being in a rainforest and seeing a glacier at the same time. It felt strange to be in a somewhat mild climate and witnessing some snow fall on top of a 13-kilometer long glacier. It is almost like getting the best of both warm and cold climates at the same time, but you can choose which one you want to be in with just a few steps. Crazy, right? I thought so.

Here is a slideshow of my hike. The pictures cannot express how amazing it really was!

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So, I encourage you to fly to New Zealand and go climb the Fox or  Franz Josef glaciers to experience this rare climatic change. Before you do so, let me give you a few tips from my hike:

1) Be well rested. This is a long, exhausting hike, and if you are not awake for this then you will most likely not get the best experience. Be ready to be on your feet for over four hours. You also want to be wide awake so you can listen to the tour guide and hear everything he says about the glacier. You will learn a lot if you are able to be alert and pay attention.

2) Stretch. It is important to stretch before you do this hike. You walk up and downhill A LOT. So stretch your legs to ensure you will not get sore. Do this whenever you get a break from the hike, too.

3) Charge your camera. This is something you NEED to keep on record that you did! There are so many amazing things you see on this hike that you will have to have photographs of, or even a video. So be sure your batteries are charged and ready to go.

4) Stay hydrated and eat. You will get very tired from this hike so it is important to stay hydrated to keep your body going. Be sure to bring an ice cold water bottle with you. You can refill this a couple times on the hike. There are small waterfalls on the hike that have non-contaminated spring water. It tasted great! Also, be sure to eat before you hike and bring a few snacks to munch on incase you get hungry. These are essential to keep your energy level up.

Have you already been to these glaciers? Maybe the one in Argentina? I would love to hear of your adventures and see your photos! Please share.

Autumn is here! September 27, 2011

Posted by vpillmore in Autumn, Fall, Leaves, St. Bonaventure University, SUNY ESF.
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The first day of fall began on September 23rd at 5:05 a.m. in the Northern hemisphere, suggests The Old Farmer’s Almanac. For those of you who live in the northeastern United States, you can certainly tell that fall time is here. At St. Bonaventure University we are surrounded by mountains and trees galore. For me, this is my favorite time of year to be on campus and look at the foliage in the scenery.

Devereux Hall at St. Bonaventure University.

But, what causes the leaves to change color? The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry website provides us with some simple explanations shown below.

Green Leaves in the Spring and Summer. In leaves’ cells there is a chemical called chlorophyll, which makes leaves green. Chlorophyll absorbs energy from the sunlight and is used to transform carbon dioxide and water to carbohydrates.

Fall causes the Chlorophyll to Break Down. Because of the change in sunlight and temperature, leaves are unable to continue their food-making process, making the green color turn into colors of yellow to orange.  However, other colors are formed if other chemical changes occur, such as mixtures of red, purple and brown. Some trees show many colors while others only one color such as oak trees that mostly show brown. The variety of colors is due to random mixing of chlorophyll residue and other pigments in the leaf during the fall.

Why do Leaves fall from the Tree? Where the stem of the leaf is connected to the tree, the layer of cells that develops eventually begins to detach from the tissues that support the leaf. A tree “seals the cut” so when a leaf has fallen off the tree or blows away, it leaves behind “a leaf scar.”

Some leaves do not fall. Some leaves stay on a tree until growth starts again in the spring, like the dead brown leaves from the oaks. Down South is where you can find broad-leaved trees are evergreen, which means the leaves keep their green color even in the mild winters. Most conifer trees (pines, spruces, firs, etc.) are evergreen in the North and the South. Because of their constant green needle-like leaves, it is easy for them to me around all year; while individual leaves can stay on for two to four years.

Weather Affects Color Intensity. Temperature, light, and water supply impact fall leaves’ degree and duration of color. The best time to sit outside and enjoy the fall colors would be on a clear, dry and cool day.

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Do you have any fall pictures to share? What do you like most about fall? Feel free to share your stories and photos!

Could 9/11 have been different if Hurricane Erin didn’t take a strange U-Turn on that morning? September 25, 2011

Posted by vpillmore in 9/11, HAARP, Hurricane Erin, Weather.
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We all remember where we were and what we were doing on the tragic day of 9/11. I was in seventh grade. I remember sitting in my ninth period Social Studies class, third row, second seat, when I found out. The afternoon announcements came on, and our principal said all after school activities were cancelled. The whole class was confused because the weather was so nice out. Why would sports be cancelled? I was also a swimmer, so I practiced inside and was even more confused of why I could not attend practice that afternoon.

After everyone shared their confused looks, our teacher told us what happened. He said two planes hit the World Trade Center towers. That was about all he said, but we knew more had to have happened by the look on his face.

The bell rang and everyone ran to their lockers to pack up and go home. On my way to my locker I overheard my friend’s mom, who is a French teacher in the school district, ask her “Julie, did you hear what happened?!” She pulled Julie to the side to tell her. I was still confused so I just packed up my stuff and went outside to my mom’s car and got inside. She finally told me everything that happened, including the falling of the towers, Flight 93, and the crash into the Pentagon. She also told me how many people were dying and injured. We both were crying.

On this tenth anniversary of 9/11, I was looking up information on that day and found a YouTube video that said there was a hurricane very close to the coast, and it took a strange U-turn the morning of 9/11. If it hit the big city and its surroundings, could 9/11 have been different? Would flights have flown out? Would the city have evacuated people? You can decide what you believe after watching the video posted below.

I think, based on the NOAA radar maps, the hurricane was a possibility. It could have easily hit NYC and all the northeastern United States. The only tricky thing about this is – why did no news networks announce this prior to 9/11? If you compare it to the coverage of other hurricanes (as shown in the video) not much was said.

What do you think of this video?  Do you think it is true?  If so, do you think it could have made an impact?

Damaging Earthquakes September 19, 2011

Posted by vpillmore in Christchurch, Earthquake, New Zealand, Weather.
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Several earthquakes have been occurring all over the world recently. In the past two or so years, there has been devastating damage due to earthquakes in Chile, Japan, Haiti, and New Zealand. After blogging about the 2009 Sydney dust storm, I decided to do some research on the New Zealand earthquake that occurred last March. The earthquake struck Christchurch, NZ where I began my 9-day tour over my Australian spring break. I was comparing my pictures of the city from when I was there to what it looks like now. It makes me sad to see such a beautiful city be destroyed.

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As you can see from the photos I posted, there was significant damage to Christchurch. According to Te Ara: The 2011 Christchurch Earthquake, on the afternoon of February 22, 2011, Christchurch was hit with a 6.3 magnitude earthquake, leaving more than 180 killed and several thousand with injuries. It is said that the major earthquake was an aftershock of the September 4, 2010 7.1 magnitude earthquake. The website also says the damage to the city could take up to10 years to repair.

A few nights ago, there were three different earthquakes in a 60-minute timespan. The first earthquake was off the coast of New Zealand and had a striking 6.0 magnitude. Seven minutes later, a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck the coast of Japan. The final earthquake occurred less than 45 minutes later. It was a 6.0 magnitude off the coast of Cuba (OzarksFirst).

Following this strange pattern, earthquakes have occurred in Alaska, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, and many other places. USGS: Science for a Changing World stated the most recent damaging earthquake was in Sikkim, India – a severe 6.9 magnitude earthquake (you can check this website out for the most recent earthquakes worldwide).

This earthquake has succeeded a death toll past 50 and at least 150 people suffering in area hospitals. According to the Los Angeles Times,
“reports suggested at least 42 people were killed in India and a total of 12 dead in Nepal and Tibet. The Sikkim government said it would provide $11,000 to the families of the deceased and $550 to those who suffered minor injuries.” This is a tragic event, and we can only hope people will continue to donate and help the people of India just like many did for the major Haiti and Japan earthquake disasters.

It is hard to decipher what to do in an earthquake. Usually there is no watch or warning and no real way to predict one is coming. It is important to have a plan for when an earthquake strikes. Find a safe place inside and outside, preferably not surrounded by windows or anything that can break. For more information on earthquakes and how to prepare for them, visit FEMA’s website.

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