National Severe Weather Preparedness Week March 2-8, 2014 #BeAForce

February 28, 2014

Photo: FEMAMost states across the U.S. set aside a week in February or March to observe their own local Severe Weather Awareness week , but NOAA, FEMA and others will be promoting National Severe Weather Preparedness Week March 2-8, 2014.

As we’ve seen year after year, March brings all kinds of wild weather and chaos like thunderstorms, tornadoes, high winds and flooding. And there are still chances of snow storms and hard freezes in various parts of the country so we all need to be prepared for Mother Nature’s mood swings.

The goal of National Severe Weather Preparedness Week is to inform the public about severe weather hazards and provide knowledge which can be used to prepare and take action. These actions can be used to save lives anywhere – at home, in schools, and in the workplace before extreme weather strikes. As NOAA says… Be a Force of Nature by knowing your risk, taking action and being an example where you live.

Facts & Figures

In 2013, there were seven weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center. These events included five severe weather and tornado events, a major flood event, and the western drought/heat wave. Overall, these events killed 109 people and had significant economic effects on the areas impacted.

Globally, losses from natural catastrophes in 2013 were somewhat moderate: the direct overall losses of around US$125bn remained below the average of the past ten years (US$184bn) according to Munich Re. Sadly, in a total of 880 major disasters around the world in 2013, more than 20,000 people were killed, but this figure is significantly below the average of the past ten years (106,000).

Take the Next Step 

NOAA and FEMA’s Be a Force of Nature: Take the Next Step campaign encourages the public to take a single preparedness action during each day of National Severe Weather Preparedness Week.

For example, according to NOAA’s Social Media Plan, daily themes include…

  • Sunday, March 2nd – National Severe Weather Preparedness Week Launch
  • Monday, March 3rd – Know your Severe Weather Risk
  • Tuesday, March 4th – Build an Emergency Kit
  • Wednesday, March 5th – Make an Emergency Plan
  • Thursday, March 6th – Emergency Alert Warnings
  • Friday, March 7th – Be a Force of Nature – Take Action
  • Saturday, March 8th – Summary

In addition to the below educational resources, visit NOAA’s online toolkit page to find some materials, social media tools, a poster and more to help spread the word during National Severe Weather Preparedness Week.

Flood and Tsunami Awareness Weeks also in March

March 16 – 22, 2014 is National Flood Awareness week intended to highlight some of the many ways floods can occur, the hazards associated with floods, and what you can do to save life and property.

Visit www.nws.noaa.gov/floodsafety/ orwww.nws.noaa.gov/floodsafety/floodsafe.shtml to find tools, tips, brochures, videos and more.

And Tsunami Awareness Week is March 23 – 29, 2014 is designed to help cities, towns, counties, universities and other large sites in coastal areas reduce the potential for disastrous tsunami-related consequences using National Weather Service’s TsunamiReady program. Learn more at www.tsunamiready.noaa.gov 

Learn more

FLOOD resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention mold cleanup tips

EPA’s 20-page guide, “Mold, Moisture and Your Home”

FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety Flood page

NOAA’s Flood Safety page

Ready Campaign flood safety awareness page

THUNDERSTORM and LIGHTNING Resources

National Weather Service Lightning Safety site

NWS Lightning Safety Tools for Teachers

Ready Campaign Thunderstorms & Lightning page

TORNADO Resources

Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety Tornado page

NOAA Tornado safety tips

More NOAA Tornado tips

Ready Campaign Tornado page

The Tornado Project Online!

Or visit your state or local Emergency Management, Health, Fire, Police or Sheriff department’s website to find local emergency information, safety tips and tools to help you and your loved ones prepare for severe weather outbreaks.

Also learn more about our collaborative Public-Private Partnership ideas associated with our customizable book to help fund volunteers and first responders and educate local communities while saving them money! It’s a whole community approach to resilience and preparedness and can complement your Awareness campaigns. Read more

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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


Friday Fotos with a Dangerous Twist

May 31, 2013

Tornado AlleyAs we post this the U.S. has been dealing with multiple tornadoes touching down across the central plains. Spring and early summer are typically the most active months (esp. across Tornado Alley) and, to be honest, 2013 has been fairly quiet … until the past few weeks.

America has more tornado sightings than any other place in the world and averages about 1,300 tornadoes each year. And tornadoes happen year round across the continental U.S.

Although twisters are dangerous and potentially deadly, they also have a certain type of beauty that makes one appreciate the power of Mother Nature.

Below are some fascinating tornado pics for this week’s Friday Fotos segment…

tornado nguyen via nasa pod

Tornado and Rainbow Over Kansas Image Credit & Copyright: Eric Nguyen (Oklahoma U.) via NASA

NASA Explanation: The scene might have been considered serene if it weren’t for the tornado. During 2004 in Kansas, storm chaser Eric Nguyen photographed this budding twister in a different light — the light of a rainbow. Pictured above, a white tornado cloud descends from a dark storm cloud. The Sun, peeking through a clear patch of sky to the left, illuminates some buildings in the foreground. Sunlight reflects off raindrops to form a rainbow. By coincidence, the tornado appears to end right over the rainbow. Streaks in the image are hail being swept about by the high swirling winds.

tornado moore ok Nicholas Rutledge via National Geographic Your Shot
Photograph by Nicholas Rutledge via National Geographic Your Shot

NatGeo Explanation: Nicholas Rutledge snapped this picture of the devastating May 2013 tornado as it gathered strength in Newcastle, Oklahoma. It later intensified before smashing through suburbs surrounding Oklahoma City, including the city of Moore.

tornado South Dakota EF3 Tornado / Photograph by Carsten Peter via NatGeo

South Dakota EF3 Tornado / Photograph by Carsten Peter via NatGeo

oldest tornado photo per noaa

Above is one of the oldest known photographs of a tornado per NOAA. It is probable this image has been “doctored” from the original. Source: NOAA’s National Weather Service Collection Location: South Dakota, 22 miles southwest of Howard Photo Date: August 28, 1884

tornado photo by noaa

Our favorite photo by NOAA

As we mentioned in our Tornadoes don’t usually happen in December … or do they? post, the most important thing to do year round wherever you live is to pay attention to forecasts, keep a NOAA Weather Radio handy when nasty weather is brewing, and learn what to do before, during and after various types of emergencies and disasters.

Feel free to download and share some free preparedness and safety tips about tornadoes, flooding, evacuations and more from our IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? book

Our thoughts are with all those dealing with and recovering from the intense storms … and hope everyone has a nice, safe weekend, j & B


Tornadoes don’t usually happen in December … or do they?

December 27, 2012

Christmas Day tornado damageThis past weekend the National Weather Service and others were forecasting wicked storms and tornadoes along the Gulf Coast for Christmas day, and sadly those predictions were spot on.

Preliminary reports say 34 tornadoes touched down across Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama during Tuesday’s outbreak although that total will probably be revised downward as duplicate reports are discovered.

But if you listen to anchors on the news or read the comments on weather stories like we do, many were saying tornadoes in December is not normal or it’s due to global warming, etc. (sigh)

Actually … tornadoes happen in the U.S. year round. Most tornadoes obviously occur during the spring and early summer months, but December twisters are not as rare as people think.

The following chart shows the number of tornado reports listed in NOAA’s National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center’s Annual Severe Weather Report Summaries for 2000 through 2012. (Note: 2012 data is through Dec 19th so does not include the 34 preliminary reported tornadoes on Christmas day.)

US Tornadoes by month 2000 thru 2013

If you run your finger across the month of December, you’ll see a few wild variations. There were 99 tornadoes in Dec 2002 but only 1 in 2003 … and the 13-year average for December is 35 so tornadoes DO happen throughout the year and it’s just part of Mother Nature’s mood swings. When warm moist air in the south or southeast collides with winter cold fronts, bad things can happen.

tornado and lightning

Interesting tornado statistics

  • The U.S. has more tornado sightings than any other place in the world and averages about 1,300 tornadoes each year.
  • The last time a number of tornadoes impacted the Gulf Coast area around Christmas Day was in 2009, when 22 tornadoes occurred during the morning of December 24th.
  • According to the National Weather Service (NWS), at least one killer tornado has occurred during the month of December in 8 of the last 20 years. Over the entire official record, at least one killer tornado has been recorded in December almost every other year (27 out of 61 years).
  • The highest recorded tornado occurred in 2004 over Rockwell Pass in California’s Sequoia National Park at about 12,000 to 12,500 feet.
  • Tornadoes can last for several seconds or more than an hour, but most last less than 10 minutes.
  • The force of a tornado can strip asphalt chunks off roads, rip clothes off people and pluck feathers off chickens.

The most important thing to do year round wherever you live is to pay attention to forecasts, keep a NOAA Weather Radio handy when nasty weather is brewing, and learn what to do before, during and after various types of emergencies and disasters.

Feel free to download and share some free preparedness and safety tips about tornadoes, flooding, winter storms and more from our IT’S A DISASTER! …and what are YOU gonna do about it? book

Additional resources:

NOAA Tornado safety tips

More NOAA tips

The Tornado Project Online!


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