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.

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Hurricane Joaquin predictions

Hurricane Joaquin has been on the news as a very destructive hurricane for several days now. The only issue was no one was sure of where exactly the storm was going to hit. As the storm heads to the north to the U.S. from the Bahamas, we finally see a clearer model.


Photo Source: The Weather Channel (I did have a current model of the storm’s path at the time, but the photo is no longer available – updated Oct. 22, 2015).

Although the model doesn’t show Joaquin making landfall, the effects of the strong hurricane may still be felt inland and on the coast, from South Carolina all the way up to New Jersey. In fact, most of those states have declared a state of emergency already.

Joaquin has been hitting the Bahamas hard since Thursday, and will continue to be in danger through Friday night. According to AccuWeather, Joaquin will continue to hit the islands with strong gusty winds and catastrophic flooding. Wind gusts are expected to get as high as 75 to 120 mph on some east-central islands.

It is hard to say exactly how much rain, flooding, and wind the inland parts of states will get, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Many locations are preparing for the Category 4 hurricane by canceling classes and outdoor activities and taking time to stock up on food and water. The amount of rain and the high wind gusts could lead to power outages and downed trees due to the wind knocking the power lines and trees down. Major flooding is expected, too. The Weather Channel just stated on television that some parts of South Carolina could see up to 18 inches of rain. Those on the coast will be hit with coastal flooding and beach erosion, especially since there is rain and storms happening there now. Below are the three maps with the latest predictions for the east coast (provided by AccuWeather).


Photo Source:
AccuWeather


Photo Source:
AccuWeather


Photo Source:
AccuWeather

The biggest question I’ve heard all over social media and the news is if this storm will be another Superstorm Sandy. My guess is it won’t be as disastrous as Sandy was, but there will be threats of serious flooding in the states that will be hit by Joaquin. The good news is that the storm won’t actually make landfall; however, the call for major flooding is what will make this storm so incredibly dangerous. Take the proper precautions to ensure you and your family are safe during this storm.

I know a lot of people don’t take these storms seriously when they are all over the news like this, but it is always better to take the precautions rather than be left in danger. The truth is, meteorologists can’t actually “predict” the weather, rather they make educated guesses on what they believe will happen from what a myriad of models show them (this isn’t their fault, it just can’t happen – just like how scientists can’t actually “prove” anything in studies). Unfortunately no human or machine can actually predict what EXACTLY will happen, but they can get pretty close. We are lucky to have meteorologists; their weather and science knowledge help us prepare for severe weather. It is better to have an educated guess then no warning at all! So everyone should stop making fun of forecasters when they don’t have a clear picture of what a storm will bring, because chances are their predictions are better than yours! It is also true that it is hard to know the real path and strength of a storm until the time of it happening gets closer.

It will be interesting to see what Joaquin ends up bringing to the east coast of the U.S. Please stay safe, everyone!

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.

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!