Chattahoochee River flooding

April Fool’s Day brought a lot of rain to the Fort Benning and Columbus area. My friends from home flew in for a long weekend and planned to sit by the pool all day while I was at work, until it stormed all day. Needless to say, that did not happen.

After I got out of work, we decided to take advantage of the rainy day by going to the National Infantry Museum. We then went downtown to go to dinner, and that is when we saw the results of the storm.

The Chattahoochee River completely flooded the riverwalk and its surroundings. I quickly tweeted my video of the flood to The Weather Channel and other local news stations. My tweet was picked up by The Weather Channel, ABC News, storm chasers and a local news reporter. I was SO excited to get a “favorite” and mention from The Weather Channel on Twitter! You can see the video and tweet by clicking here.

Below are some pictures I took of the flooding from my phone. You can see how much rain fell if you look at the lamp posts.

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South Carolina flooding

Hurricane Joaquin took a toll on South Carolina. The Weather Channel states at least 17 people have died. Not only are people in danger from the flooding, but the abandoned and lost pets are as well. Read my article on Examiner.com about the animal rescue mission in South Carolina by clicking here.

The damage from the flood is horrible, and I wish the best for all of people, animals, and rescue teams who are currently in this situation. To read the latest about Hurricane Joaquin and its damage, click here. I highly suggest watching the videos and going through the slideshow of photos to see the intense, dangerous conditions the storm created.

Deadly flooding in Utah

The current flooding in Utah is disastrous and has completely shocked the Hildale community. People have tried their best to escape the nasty floods, but most of them were just swept back in. It is so sad seeing neighborhoods being swept away, and to hear of people passing from this unfortunate event. The death toll is at 16 with four people missing. According to The Weather Channel, 150 people from county, state, and federal agencies, 500 community volunteers, and about a handful of search dogs are working search and rescue missions in Hildale and a close by down nearby, Colorado City. We can only hope that the death toll and missing persons reports do not get any higher.

If you have never experienced a flood or haven’t seen one on television, I would suggest watching the footage below provided by Virginia Black, a local resident. It is scary how fast the floods can develop and it can be so unpredictable and lead to fatal events, like this one. It’s important to remember that when floods are occurring that there are big chances of severe thunderstorms with extremely heavy rainfall periods, which may lead to more flash flooding.

ABC News: Dramatic Footage Captures Deadly Flash Flooding in Utah

Prepare yourself for flooding with these tips from FEMA.

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)

West Coast Storm

As I always say, I am lucky to have family and friends that live all over the world! They all support my love for the weather and always send photos and videos to me when there is an extreme weather event in their area. My sister, Katrina, lives in Alviso, California and she sent me some pictures of the West Coast storm from her neighborhood. She couldn’t believe all the rain that accumulated and how much damage there was, especially because it almost never rains where she lives. Below is a slideshow of the photos she sent me… craziness!

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The damage from this storm was devastating. Click here to read about the homes that were horribly damaged by destructive debris. Hopefully a storm like this does not hit the West Coast again anytime soon. The poor state and its residents need a break!

All this talk about weather, and not enough about safety!

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!

Irene makes landfall: Flooding and Safety

As Category 2 Hurricane Irene leaves the East Coast of the United States in shambles, another tropical storm decided to join in on the damage.

Hurricane Irene began on the coast of North Carolina, first striking the Outer Banks. It continued up the East Coast, leaving over 4 million people in the United States without power and 46 deaths in 13 states. This storm was underestimated by, especially those in parts of New Jersey, New York City and Long Island. Many believed “yeah right, a hurricane hitting us?” – well it did, and it hit hard.

Road closed due to flooding in South Old Bridge, New Jersey. Photo taken by Gillian Shaw.

After Irene finished up destroying the East Coast, Tropical Storm Lee hit the Gulf Coast. Many in New Orleans were without power, nearly 4,000 to be exact – but nowhere as close as the power outages during Irene. Lee weakened to a Tropical Depression after a couple of days, and although it is no longer a tropical threat, remnants of the storm remain. There are flood watches and warnings all over the northeastern United States. Most already have major flooding issues.

The problem with floods is that sometimes people do not know the necessary “terms,” such as the difference between a “flood watch” and “flood warning.” FEMA  illustrates both of these on their website; check out Flood: Know Your Terms. Also, many people do not know what safety precautions to take before, during and after a flood, so here are a few safety tips presented below.

FEMA – BEFORE A FLOOD:

To prepare for a flood, you should:

  • Avoid building in a floodprone area unless you elevate and reinforce your home.
  • Elevate the furnace, water heater, and electric panel if susceptible to flooding.
  • Install “check valves” in sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.

FEMA – DURING A FLOOD:

If a flood is likely in your area, you should:

  • Listen to the radio or television for information.
  • Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.

If you must prepare to evacuate, you should do the following:

  • Secure your home. If you have time, bring in outdoor furniture. Move essential items to an upper floor.
  • Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances. Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

The following are guidelines for the period following a flood:

  • Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink.
  • Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
  • Avoid moving water.

Please take these safety precautions seriously if you are in a place where there is a flood. Not only can you save your own life, but you can save the lives of many others by learning how to prepare for a flood. Also, if you had an experience from this storm feel free to share your story with great detail and photographs! To read the full safety precautions for before, during and after floods visit FEMA’s website section on floods.