Weather Wednesday — The Week That Was

It’s been an eventful week on the weather front, so let’s highlight a few points.

KSFY_damage_van_kb_150511_16x9_992
-Damage near Van, TX — KSFY

What started out as a very quiet first quarter of the year as regards the number of tornadoes has become much more active since mid-April. There have been several widespread, damaging and deadly outbreaks, especially over the last ten days or so.

The organization U.S. Tornadoes has begun to compile a rolling list of the highest incidence of tornadoes in 2015. One can see that May is headed toward reversing the early year trend of below normal activity.

storm-thumb-051015In addition, the storms over the past weekend (May 9 and 10) included extremely high rainfall rates in some areas which led to flash flooding and necessitated swift water rescues. Some of the rescues were broadcast live by television stations in Dallas and retransmitted to the entire country via The Weather Channel.

2015-05-09_10-snowfall
— NWS

And if that wasn’t enough, a late season snowstorm on the same weekend buried parts of the Rocky Mountains into the Dakotas. The heavy, wet snow damaged buildings and had to be shoveled out of Coors Field before the Colorado Rockies could host their Sunday afternoon game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

tropical-storm-anaAnd to top it all off, Tropical Storm Ana, brought gusty winds and copious amounts of rain to the Southeast.

4 things to do during a hurricane

Post by Michelle Bufkin, AU Agriculture Communications Student/EDEN Community of Practice Social Media Assistant

Last week we discussed what to do to prepare, before a hurricane forms. This week we will discuss what to during a hurricane in your area. Even though there are no hurricanes on either side of the US currently, it is never too early to prepare!

Hurrican 1. Listen to a weather radio or app
The best way to stay informed during a hurricane is to listen to a weather radio. Nowadays there are apps that do the same thing, but I would be wary about using them during a storm because the power may be out and your phone can die quickly when using them. You may ask, why should I listen to the weather radio, I already know a hurricane is in my area. Because hurricanes can cause other natural disasters such as: tornadoes, hail, flooding, and landslides. The best way to be prepared for these is to be informed.

2. Ensure food & water availability
One important thing to have during a hurricane is enough food and water for you and your family. The issue with this, is having food that can be eaten without power. For a list of suggested ready to eat food to have, visit this website. For a safe water supply fill up tubs for water to flush toilets. For safe drinking water fill up large containers, estimate a gallon of water a day per person for a few days. For more water tips visit here.

food safety3. Ensure (cold) food safety
One easy way to keep cold food safe is to turn your refrigerator to its coldest setting and keep the doors closed. If the fridge temperature rises above 40 degrees for more than two hours go ahead and discard any perishable foods such as meat, poultry, leftovers, fish, and eggs. If your freezer rises above 40 degrees for an extended period of time and the food no longer has ice crystals on it throw it out. Never taste food to see if it is still good. Remember this handy tip: when in doubt, throw it out!

4. Evacuation
If you are considering evacuation, evacuate early. It reduces the stress on you and your family from traffic. If an evacuation becomes mandatory, know your evacuation routes and have a plan in place on how to reach them if they become congested. Don’t forget to already have a planned place to evacuate to, and contact them ahead of time.

I hope these tips help you feel more confident in preparing for when a hurricane is approaching your area. Remember: It is never too early to prepare!

CDC: Hurricane Isaac and West Nile Virus

CDC Telebriefing on West Nile Virus Update

Wednesday, August 29 at Noon ET

I have taken the following excerpts from the press briefing transcript as they speak to Isaac and potential for increasing cases of West Nile Virus –  the bottom line is no dramatic increase is anticipated and  Lyle Petersen explains why they do not expect Isaac to contribute to the number of cases of WNV.

LYLE PETERSEN: And now I’d like to say a few words about Hurricane Isaac and the question of how it might affect the spread of West Nile virus. Previous experience has shown that floods and hurricanes do not typically result in increased transmission of West Nile virus. Thus, we expect Hurricane Isaac will likely have no noticeable effect on the current West Nile epidemic. Nevertheless, small increases in the numbers of West Nile cases were noted in some areas of Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina. These were thought to be due to increased outdoor exposure that occurred when houses were severely damaged and during recovery efforts. CDC has reached out to health departments in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee to alert them of the situation and offer assistance. In light of the ongoing risk for West Nile virus infection, it’s important for people to protect themselves from mosquito bites.

We encourage everyone to use insect repellent when you go outdoors, wear long sleeves and pants. Use air conditioning if possible. Empty stands water from items outside your home, such as gutters, kiddie pools and birdbaths. In response to this year’s outbreak, CDC works closely with state and local health departments particularly in areas hardest hit by the epidemic. As I noted earlier, nearly half of this year’s West Nile virus cases have occurred in Texas. A majority of the cases there have been in the Dallas area. CDC has had the privilege of working with the Texas department of state health services in Dallas County and other county departments to help protect people from the West Nile virus. They’ve done a great job. Dr. Lakey is going to give an update about the situation in Texas. Dr. Lakey?

ELIZABETH WEISS: Thank you so much for taking my call. I had a question about the point that was made earlier, looking at the hurricane, you said that there had historically been an uptick, is that right after? You assume because there was so much standing water, the services that might have gone to mosquito abatement may have been used elsewhere, an uptick later do you mean never or later?

LYLE PETERSEN: What has been observed in the past, we have had a lot of experience with vector-borne diseases and hurricanes and floods? What has been observed in the past that these don’t really have a big impact on overall incident of disease. The reason is, because, it’s because, these hurricanes and flood events tend to disrupt the entire ecology of the area and interrupt this natural transmission cycle between birds and mosquitoes. The virus normally exists in. And so, the end result is, really hurricanes and floods don’t have a major impact on our virus transmission. But, naturally, before the hurricane happened, there were plenty of West Nile virus infected mosquitoes out there in the environment. And so, what happens — what was observed in Louisiana, was, after Katrina, was that, people who were out, houses were destroyed. They were living out in the elements; there were a lot of workers out there and homeowners taking care of downed trees and the like. Outdoors and exposed to the West Nile virus-infected mosquitos already there. In some areas, where it was looked at, there was a small transient increase in West Nile virus transmission following hurricane Katrina, but if you look at the overall picture the hurricane really is not expected to have a major impact at all on what’s happening across the country.

 

 

Kim

E. Kim Cassel, Ph.D.