Winter Storm Jonas

This is about a week late, but I finally had time to upload some Winter Storm Jonas photos my friends and family sent to me. According to The Weather Channel, “Winter Storm Jonas produced prolific amounts of snow in parts of the East, rivaling infamous snowstorms of the recent past. Snowfall totals from the storm topped out near 42 inches in West Virginia and at least 14 states in total received more than a foot of snow from the storm.”

This storm was one for the books, that’s for sure!

Many people sent me these photos since I couldn’t experience this storm for myself. My family and friends never let me down!

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We recently found out we will be moving back to Central New York this spring, and I can’t wait to be back up north to experience these crazy winters!

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What exactly is a blizzard?

Winter will be here before we know it. Some states, like Nevada, have already felt the early onset of winter. I recommend reading this infographic by Jon Erdman on The Weather Channel’s website describing what a blizzard really is. There are a lot of facts on there that not even I, the weather enthusiast, knew about.

One example is that everyone has heard about “tornado alley”, but I had no idea there was a “blizzard alley”. The infographic states “A 2002 study by Dr. Robert Schwartz and Dr. Thomas Schmidlin compiled the number of blizzards from 1959-2000 over the U.S., finding a clear “blizzard alley” in the Dakotas and western Minnesota, extending into Iowa, Nebraska, southeast Wyoming and eastern Colorado.”

Source: The Weather Channel

If you live in an area where snow is frequent, I definitely suggest reading the infographic and be aware of the snowy conditions around you when they come. It provides a lot of good information that every person living in a colder state should know. There are some major differences between a normal snow storm and a blizzard, and winter is coming up quickly, so be prepared by knowing the facts.

The bright side of winter being on its way… Thanksgiving (even though this is still technically the fall season), Christmas, and 2016 will be here SO soon!

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.

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!

Superstorm Sandy

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.

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!