Flash BOOM! (Stunning lightning photos)

June 28, 2013

Since Lightning Safety week is winding down, we wanted to share some absolutely stunning lightning Friday Fotos. Also please take a moment to read Monday’s Lightning safety tips post … and we included a few links at the bottom with more cool photos and a spectacular lightning strike video. Enjoy!

lightning grand canyon

Lightning storm over Arizona’s magnificent Grand Canyon via allthatisinteresting

lightning in ikaria photo chris kotsiopoulos

This composite of 70 different shots shows a severe lighting storm as it passes over the Greek island of Ikaria. Source: Chris Kotsiopoulos

lightning positive cg by shear atmos

‘Positive CG’. Supercell lightning at Coffs Harbour. Image (c) Kane Hardie 2010

lightning eiffel tower caters news agency

Amateur photographer Bertrand Kulik captured this once in a lifetime shot at the exact moment a ferocious lightning bolt appears to strike the iconic Eiffel Tower. Photo: Caters News Agency via NaturePlanet.info

lightning chaiten volcano Photo: Carlos Gutierrez

Lightning bolts appear above and around the Chaiten volcano as seen from Chana, some 30 kms (19 miles) north of the volcano, as it began its first eruption in thousands of years, in southern Chile May 2, 2008. Cases of electrical storms breaking out directly above erupting volcanoes are well documented, although scientists differ on what causes them. Photo: Carlos Gutierrez

lightning antimatter beams popsci

Antimatter Beams: Now you know what they look like. John Fowler via Flickr/CC licensed via POPSCI

Also check out some awesome volcanic eruptions and our Venezuela’s Catatumbo Lightning post … and watch an incredible short video by Tom A. Warner called Lightning captured at 7,207 images per second . Stay safe and have a great weekend everyone! 🙂 j & B


Lightning Safety tips

June 24, 2013

lightning photo by NOAAAt any given moment, there are almost 2,000 thunderstorms occurring over the Earth. It is estimated that 100 lightning flashes occur each second somewhere on the planet, adding up to nearly 8 million lightning flashes per day.

Lightning occurs most frequently during thunderstorms, but has also been observed during volcanic eruptions, extremely intense forest fires, and surface nuclear detonations according to NOAA.

How lightning forms 

NWS’s Lightning Science page explains lightning is a giant spark of electricity in the atmosphere or between the atmosphere and the ground. In the initial stages of development, air acts as an insulator between the positive and negative charges in the cloud and between the cloud and the ground; however, when the differences in charges becomes too great, this insulating capacity of the air breaks down and there is a rapid discharge of electricity that we know as lightning.

lightning photo by NASA

Did you know…

…lightning often strikes the same place repeatedly, especially if it’s a tall, pointy, isolated object?! For example, the Empire State Building is hit nearly 100 times a year.

…the U.S. gets an estimated 25 million lightning flashes each year?!

…lightning can travel 60 miles or more, often extending up to 10 miles away from the cloud that formed it?! Generally, however, a bolt travels 10 miles or less.

…most cars are safe from lightning, but it is the metal roof and metal sides that protect you, NOT the rubber tires. Remember, convertibles, motorcycles, bicycles, open-shelled outdoor recreational vehicles and cars with fiberglass shells offer no protection from lightning.

Some tips to prepare your home for lightning include…

Install a Lightning Protection System
A lightning protection system does not prevent lightning from striking but does create a direct path for lightning to follow. Basically, a lightning protection system consists of air terminals (lightning rods) and associated fittings connected by heavy cables to grounding equipment. This provides a path for lightning current to travel safely to the ground.

Install surge protectors on or in home
Surge protection devices (SPDs) can be installed in the electrical panel to protect your entire home from electrical surges. Sometimes it may be necessary to install small individual SPDs in addition to the home unit for computers and television sets due to different ratings and voltage levels. If a home unit is too expensive, consider getting individual SPDs that plug into the wall for the refrigerator, microwave and garage door openers. Appliances that use two services (cable wire and electrical cord) may require combination SPDs for computers, TVs, and VCRs. (Better yet – consider getting an uninterrupted power supply [UPS] with surge protection and battery backup so you can shut down computers safely.)

lightning photo by lightningphotography.com

Some basic lightning safety tips include…

Listen & watch – If you hear thunder, you’re close enough to be struck by lightning – take cover as quickly as possible. Be aware that lightning often strikes miles away from the rainfall or thunderstorm cloud.

Hairy sign – If you feel your hair stand on end and feel tingly (which means lightning is about to strike)… crouch down, get on the balls of your feet and bend forward putting hands on your knees (BE SMALL). And do NOT lie flat on ground since that makes you a bigger target!

Unplug it – Before thunderstorms, unplug appliances if possible – even ones on a surge protector and it’s best to move plugs away from outlets.

IF INDOORS – Don’t shower – sounds weird, but wait since lightning travels easily through metal pipes and water can carry an electrical charge. Also avoid corded objects – corded phones, PCs or a mouse conduct electricity (could shock you). Cordless and cell phones or wireless devices are usually safe.

IF OUTDOORS – Try to get to safe shelter quickly.

  • Move away from tall things (trees, towers, fences or power lines) and metal things (umbrellas, motorcycles or bicycles, wire fences, etc) since they all attract lightning.
  • If surrounded by trees, take shelter under the shorter trees.
  • Get to a low lying area but watch out for flash floods.
  • Be small – make yourself a small target by crouching down and put your hands on your knees (and don’t lie flat on the ground since that makes you a bigger target!)

IF IN A BOAT – Get to land and to shelter quickly! Water is extremely dangerous when there’s lightning. If you are caught in the boat, crouch down in the center away from metal hardware.

IF IN A VEHICLE – Keep windows closed and stay out of a convertible, if possible (mainly since you may the highest target if lightning strikes).

If someone is struck by lightning:

  • Victim does not carry electrical charge – they CAN be touched.
  • Call 9-1-1 or local EMS (emergency) telephone number.
  • Check ABCs ( Airway, Breathing, & Circulation) … if victim is passed out – you may need to do Rescue Breathing or CPR.
  • Victim will have 2 wounds – an entrance and an exit burn. DO NOT try to cool the burn with anything. Cover burn with a dry sterile bandage or clean cloth.
  • Seek medical attention, if necessary.

Above safety tips extracted from our IT’S A DISASTER! book – download more topics and learn about our funding ideas .

Additional Resources:

NOAA Lightning Facts

NOAA Lightning safety page

NOAA Understanding Lightning

Amazing gallery of lightning photos

Tips on How to Photograph Lightning


Friday Fotos: Magnificent Supermoon rising

June 21, 2013

supermoonSummer in the northern hemisphere officially began at 1:04 a.m. EDT Friday, June 21 (5:04 am UT).

National Geographic explains during this season, the Earth’s northern axis is slightly tilted toward the sun so that the northern hemisphere gets more direct sunlight and experiences warmer temperatures. Locations south of the equator are tilted away from the sun, so that the sunlight is dispersed, making for colder temperatures.

For skywatchers on the first day of the new season and a few days afterward the sun appears to rise at the same place on the horizon – hence the origin of the word solstice, meaning ‘sun stands still’ in Latin.

Supermoon this weekend

June Solstice also offers some amazing moon visuals. SPACE.com says in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 23, 2013, the moon will reach perigee — the closest point to Earth in the rocky satellite’s orbit around the planet. Although some people have suggested that the supermoon might drive people crazy, cause natural disasters and wreak havoc on the tides, there is scant evidence in support of those claims, NASA assures.

supermoon chart NASA

NASA planetary geologist Noah Petro said today on NASA TV that while the tides might be slightly higher because of the moon’s close approach, it won’t make a noticeable difference for the average observer. The only thing that humans might experience this weekend is a good lunar show. So… in anticipation of this weekend’s eye candy, we wanted to share some gorgeous supermoon shots from previous years in today’s Friday Fotos post.

supermoon athens greece 2012 photo AP dimitri messinis

Temple of Poseidon in Cape Sounion, SE of Athens, Greece 2012 (AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis) via The Atlantic

supermoon seattle space needle 2012 photo by liem bahneman via KOMO

Supermoon rises over Seattle 2012 (Photo ©Liem Bahneman via KOMO)

supermoon manhattan 2012 reuters gary hershom

Lower Manhattan 2012 (Reuters/Gary Hershorn via The Atlantic)

supermoon Ajorbahman’s Collection via WebEcoist

Image: Ajorbahman’s Collection

Also check out our post of a gorgeous Tucson Moonrise … and remember to watch the supermoon this Sunday! Or catch a live webcast of the supermoon on SPACE.com on Sunday beginning at 9 pm EDT (0100 June 24 GMT), courtesy of the Slooh Space Camera.

Stay safe and have a great weekend everyone! 🙂  j & B


FDA steps in it: Classifies poop as a drug and restricts fecal transplants

June 17, 2013

fda classifies poop as a drug photo by Health Impact NewsBack in March we did a Monday Musing post called “Would you take this crap if your life depended on it?”  about how “poop transplants” are an effective way to treat people with a type of intestinal bacteria infection.

Basically researchers transplant fecal matter from healthy people into the colons of people infected with the notoriously hard-to-treat Clostridium difficile (klos-TRID-e-uhm dif-uh-SEEL) bacteria (a.k.a. C. diff), which causes severe, watery diarrhea. They found that 46 out of 49 patients got better within a week of the enema treatment (a.k.a. Fecal Microbiata Transplant or FMT.)

Well … according to Health Impact News, the FDA has literally stepped in and has now declared fecal matter as a “drug.” And, since it is a drug they have not approved, it’s now officially in Phase 1 of the drug research and approval process, a process that can take many years.

In a letter from the FDA to the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), FDA stated that FMT is not to be used by physicians, other than in life saving situations subject to a formal IND (Investigational New Drug) application.

Health Impact News writes…

“So why would the FDA make the ridiculous claim that someone’s healthy poop is a drug, and start regulating a safe therapy that has saved so many lives, cured so many with bowel diseases, and has virtually no recorded adverse effects? It is far more effective and far more safe than drugs used for the same conditions!  … While doctors, published research, and home users have already successfully used FMT therapy with miraculous results, our government agencies are spending our tax dollars to restrict this simple and inexpensive therapy so that drug companies can develop patented and profitable drugs instead.

Yes … the thought of taking someone else’s poop has an “ick” factor and many people have probably never even considered (or are aware of) FMT. But now many sufferers will have to live with the uncomfortable and excruciating pain of bowel diseases or take prescription drugs with potential side effects since the FDA is restricting FMT therapy.

Read the full article on Health Impact News  and learn more about about poop transplants at MyHealthNewsDaily.com and LiveScience.com


Wildfires: Scenes from the front lines

June 14, 2013

Colorado wildfire photo by APDozens of wildfires are currently scorching the western U.S. with Colorado and New Mexico getting hit the hardest recently … but unfortunately the country still has a long, hot summer to go.

Wildfires consume nearly 8 million acres of forested land each year on average across the United States.

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reports as of June 14, 2013 there have been 19,472 fires across the U.S. which have burned 461,850 acres year-to-date so the country is way below average … for now.

In today’s Friday Fotos we wanted to share some wildfire scenes from the front lines including helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft and the amazing firefighters.

wildfire colorado burning photo by John Wark Reuters

wildfire Sikorsky Picking Up Water

Below: Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter drops 600 gallons of water on a fire

wildfire black hawk

Below: Black Hawk helicopters from the Army Aviation Support Facility on Buckley Air Force Base, Aurora, Colo., perform water drops using Bambi Buckets®. The buckets can carry up to 500 gallons of water and make more than 20 drops before refueling. (Photo by Air Force Capt. Darin Overstreet) See more NG photos from Colorado’s Black Forest fire

wildfire black hawk photo by Air Force Capt Darin Overstreet

A MAFFS C-130 drops retardant on the Black Forest Fire, June 12, 2013. The modular airborne firefighting systems (MAFFS) can drop up to 3000 gallons of retardant covering an area one-quarter of a mile long and 60 feet wide. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jonathan C. Thibault

A MAFFS C-130 drops retardant photo US Army Sgt Jonathan C. Thibault

wildfire firefighter photo by AP

Download some free safety tips from our IT’S A DISASTER! book about evacuations, wildfires and more … and stay safe out there! j & B


Customized preparedness books are great for public education, National Preparedness Month and fundraisers

June 13, 2013

We’ll be doing another large bundled print mid-to-late July 2013 since several agencies and groups want customized IT’S A DISASTER! books for September National Preparedness Month … so please let us know if you have any custom book needs as soon as possible..! (As fyi, we usually print a few times a year since we bundle 1,000 unit & up jobs together to print 20,000+ each time.)

customizable disaster preparedness and first aid manual by FedhealthKeep in mind we discount our 266-page disaster preparedness and basic first aid manuals up to 75% off list (or as low as $3.50 U.S. each) … and we customize them in the print process on 1,000 unit (or larger) quantities at NO additional charge.

You can change the entire outside cover (including the book title) and the first 12 pages can be customized with your contact information, evacuation routes, marketing data, advertisements and sponsorship messages from local partners and more.  (The 266-page books are all the same after first 12 pages. View some sample covers and pages … and learn more about our funding ideas.)

On large jobs (20,000 units or more) we can add an extra 48-page section so communities, regions or corporations can have 60 custom pages in front (or back) creating a very substantial reference manual.

In smaller quantities and on rush orders we can customize our “standard” red books with free peel and stick labels. It’s not as cool as a custom book, but it allows volunteer groups, nonprofits, agencies, schools and businesses to personalize books for their recipients.

One final note, many states will be closing out year-end budgets on June 30th … and others are receiving grant funds for relief and recovery efforts. A great way to clear out leftover funds and grant dollars is to purchase customized IT’S A DISASTER! books for staff, volunteers and local citizens. Fedhealth can individually receipt each bucket to commit funds down to the penny so groups won’t be required to return any unused dollars. Paperbacks (or CDs or flash drives) qualify as community education providing about a $4-to-$1 match due to all the discounts.

Learn more or call Fedhealth at 1-888-999-4325 for a free information kit or to discuss how we can help your communities “be aware, be prepared … and have a plan!”


Monster El Reno tornado widest ever recorded killed at least 18 including 4 chasers

June 7, 2013

tornado EF scaleThe National Weather Service reported Tuesday that the killer tornado that struck near Oklahoma City last Friday was a ferocious EF5 twister, which had winds that neared 295 mph.

An EF5 tornado, the highest number on the “Enhanced Fujita Scale of Tornado Intensity,” is any tornado that has wind speeds of 200 mph or higher.

This beats every world wind record except the more-than-300-mph reading measured during the Moore, Okla., tornado in 1999, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Jesse Ferrell.

The weather service also said the twister’s 2.6-mile width is the widest ever recorded. According to the National Severe Storms Laboratory, the tornado blew up from 1 mile to 2.6 miles wide in a 30-second span. For perspective, Manhattan is 2.3 miles wide at its widest point.

The tornado, which carved a path 16.2 miles long near El Reno, OK surpasses a 2.5-mile-wide F4 tornado that hit Hallam, Nebraska in 2004.

El Reno EF5 tornado AP

The below video is an animation showing the approximate location of the El Reno tornado with chaser positions from the Spotter Network overlayed. The tornado path and size based on radar and path compiled by NWS. (A commenter added … Spotter Network is a smart phone app, like 4 square and other social media apps that can use the GPS functions of a smart phone to give live tracking data, the video is a very simple video representation of the raw data about heading and GPS location. The data was masked on to a map along with an animation of the Tornado track, that data provided by the NWS.)

The Weather Channels’ Tornado Hunt vehicle got thrown nearly 200 yards by the El Reno Tornado in Oklahoma City. Tornado Hunt crew and Mike Bettes were all okay. Photo Credit: @SeanSchoferTVN

El Reno Oklahome EF5 tornado hunt vehicle by sean schofer

Sadly 3 veteran storm chasers were among the 18 people killed during the May 31st tornado outbreak in central Oklahoma. According to the Canadian County Sheriff’s Office, Tim Samaras, 55, his son Paul Samaras, 24, and Carl Young, 45, died while chasing a tornado in El Reno. Tim and Carl starred in the Discovery Channel series “Storm Chasers”.

storm chasers Tim Samaras, his son Paul Samaras and Carl Young killed in El Reno tornado

Below photo from G+ Sid Burgess shows the chaser community saying their goodbyes to Tim, Paul and Carl in chaser fashion.

El Reno tornado RIP tim samaras

And earlier this week the Daily Oklahoman reported a 4th chaser perished in the El Reno storm: Richard Charles Henderson, an amateur chaser.

The paper writes:

From his pickup, amateur storm chaser Richard Charles Henderson took a cellphone photo of the first tornado Friday and excitedly sent it to a friend. Minutes later, that tornado would kill him.

R.I.P. chasers… and our thoughts are with all those affected by the twisters in Oklahoma and across the country.  Stay safe, j & B


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