Preparedness Begins at Home

2016-05-12
Meteorological Spring began March 1st and with it comes a heightened emphasis on severe weather safety and preparation. 2016 has seen an increased number of tornadoes and other severe weather events over the past few years. Is that a predictor of spring weather? One answer is…it only takes one.

It only takes one tornado or severe storm to change lives forever. It only takes one to cause millions of dollars of damage. It only takes one to impact the economy of a community. It only takes one to destroy infrastructure, schools, churches, parks, public buildings, etc.

Photo by Author
Photo by Rick Atterberry

As we remind ourselves of safety precautions, we recognize that being prepared can impact survivability reducing deaths and injuries. Damage to property can be mitigated by employing proper construction techniques.

Many states observe Severe Weather Preparedness Weeks in the spring. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Weather Ready Nation efforts consolidate information on best practices.

Beyond that information, now is a good time to review threats that are specific to a given location. Is the area prone to flooding, especially flash floods? Are outdoor sports venues equipped with lightning detectors? Are evacuation and sheltering policies in place?

FEMA
FEMA

Another important piece of information is local protocols for operation of outdoor warning sirens. In general, these sirens are NOT necessarily intended to be heard inside homes and businesses. Some communities sound an all clear. In others, a second activation of the sirens means the threat is continuing for an additional period of time. Some locations employ sirens for flash flooding, nuclear power plant issues, tsunamis and other threats. Be aware of local policies. Always have an alternate way of receiving severe weather information…the All-Hazards Weather Radio System, warning apps, web-based warning systems.

Personal preparedness is everyone’s responsibility. Review shelter areas at home and at work. Create appropriate “Go Kits” for each location plus vehicles. Devise a communications plan to aid in reunification of families and co-workers. Be aware of those in the neighborhood or workplace with special needs who may need your assistance. And, always, be extra vigilant when severe weather is a possibility. A community can only be as prepared as its residents.

Being Prepared is Part of Who You Are

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Preparedness Begins at Home

eXtension’s New Direction a Benefit to EDEN

Photograph poles with of a lot of telephone wires rolled up and overlappingSometimes it feels as though eXtension, Extension, and EDEN do things in a willy-nilly fashion. But if we look at the big picture, we can see that there is a pattern and that the shifting is in response to clients’ changing needs in a manner that reflects where they are looking for information. That used to happen on paper and in person. Now it’s more online and virtual.

The 2015 EDEN annual meeting, held in Las Cruces, NM, provided opportunity for committees to develop goals for the upcoming year. The Professional Development committee is committed to supporting EDEN’s strategic plan, specifically through its goal to strengthen Extension’s capacity and commitment to address disaster issues. During our session in Las Cruces, we agreed that we should identify and develop training opportunities that will help all Extension professionals be personally better prepared for disaster and as a result, be prepared to help their communities be more disaster resilient.

In other words, we are seeking to create a systems approach which can be endorsed by Program Leaders towards eventual inclusion in institutional programs of work across the country. This system will facilitate more meaningful collaborations between state organizations and land grant institutions to guide emergency management planning and training. This approach will be particularly effective in rural communities and may enrich existing programs at the state level.

Two big questions surfaced during the committee meeting.

  • What are the basic disaster-related skills every Extension educator ought to have?
  • How can the committee provide training opportunities to Extension educators?

Let us know what you think here.

Coincidentally, eXtension has a new direction – help Extension professionals do their work more effectively. The new mission and brand reflect the new focus. For EDEN and the Professional Development committee, that can translate to increased opportunity provide training and resources through tools available to CES Professionals and increased reach and impact through participation in and with the new i-Three Corps on the 2016 focus issues climate and food systems.

Many EDEN delegates are aware that we’ve been involved in eXtension for at least a decade. We’ve contributed significant content to the website and the learning management system (Campus), and we support the Ask an Expert system. The content on the web site will continue to be available and, with your help, we will continue to respond to clients’ questions through the Ask an Expert system.

You may wonder how clients will access our content when you see the new web site design. “The content currently on www.extension.org will be seamlessly moved to a new subdomain and available using the Find Resources button,” according to Terry Meisenbach, eXtension Communication & Marketing Leader.

CEO Christine Geith recently presented the new strategy to the eXtension Board of Directors.

Derecho — Weather Wednesday

Julyderecho
July 13, 2015 derecho radar image from NOAA.

Early this week, on July 13, a possible derecho, or at least what the National Weather Service is currently calling “a Derecho-like event,” raced across the middle of the country. It began in Minnesota and swept mostly southward through Wisconsin, Illinois, parts of Indiana and into Kentucky.

The Weather Service describes a derecho as “a widespread, long-lived storm. Derechos are associated with bands of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms variously known as bow echoes, squall lines or quasi-linear convective systems.”

The “bow echo” refers to the characteristic appearance of a linear storm on weather radar when that storm bows out due to high wind. Storms represented by bow echoes are not always derechos unless they last for a long time which is rarely the case. In fact, large derechos are relatively unusual. Generally there are only one or two a year in most of the country.

The Weather Service has an extensive derecho page.

Weather Underground
Weather Underground

Derechos can be extremely damaging. By definition a derecho must travel 240 miles and include wind gusts of at least 58mph along much of its length and several gusts of over 75mph. Many are much stronger. A derecho that crossed Illinois from northwest to southeast in the late 1990’s included winds measured at over 100mph at the Clinton nuclear power plant and caused extensive damage to a marina at the associated cooling lake.

Effects can be long lasting. On July 4th and 5th in 1999 a derecho crossed the Boundary Waters Canoe area in northern Minnesota/southern Ontario. It devastated a forest there. Wildfires in more recent years have been fueled by the debris from that storm.

Because of their length and the intensity of the straight line winds, derechos can be an extremely costly event. Casualties are rare, but do occur, usually caused by falling trees or other debris and occasionally by watercraft caught by the rapidly moving storms.