WASHINGTON – At the direction of President Obama, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is coordinating the federal government’s assistance and preparations to support states affected by Hurricane Sandy. Today, the President joined an operations briefing at the National Response Coordination Center at FEMA Headquarters in Washington D.C. During the briefing the President received an update on preparedness activities underway from Administrator Craig Fugate and FEMA Regional Administrators, and an update on the storm from National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb. The President continues to direct Administrator Fugate to ensure that federal partners continue to bring all available resources to bear to support state and local responders in potentially affected areas along the East Coast as they prepare for severe weather. FEMA has already deployed teams and has pre-staged resources to potentially affected states and areas ahead of the storm and FEMA continues to urge residents in potentially affected areas to be prepared.
“As conditions worsen along the Mid-Atlantic and other parts of the East Coast, residents need to listen to the direction of local officials,” urged Fugate. “This is a large storm and the potential impacts from wind, coastal flooding, inland flooding, rain and snow will affect many states. If you’re on the coast, it’s time to act and follow evacuation orders. If you’re inland, now is the time to make final preparations. Be ready for power outages and stock up on emergency supplies of food, water, medications, and other supplies.”
Today, the President declared an emergency for the State of Maryland. The President’s action authorizes FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts to provide assistance for required emergency measures to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety in the City of Baltimore and all counties in the State of Maryland.
FEMA and its federal partners remain in close coordination with states and tribal governments and continue to coordinate resources to provide support as needed. FEMA Incident Management Assistance Teams and liaison officers have deployed to potentially affected states along the East Coast to support preparedness activities and ensure there are no unmet needs. Mobile Emergency Response Support (MERS) personnel and teams are in place or are en route to Delaware, the District of Columbia, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina and Pennsylvania to support the states with secure and non-secure voice, video, and information services, operations, and logistics support to state response operations, and with any potential requests for assistance.
According to the NOAA National Weather Service 2 p.m. advisory, hurricane force winds are expected along portions of the coast between Chincoteague, Va. And Chatham, Mass. Tropical Storm force winds are expected north of Chatham to Merrimack River, Mass., the lower Chesapeake Bay and south of Chincoteague to Duck, North Carolina. Hurricane Sandy is expected to produce significant precipitation over widespread areas causing inland flooding, coastal storm surge, snow, and possible power outages.
Individuals in the region should continue to monitor NOAA Weather Radio and their local news for updates and directions provided by their local officials. State and local officials make determinations and announcements about evacuations. We urge the public to listen to the instructions of officials, and if told to evacuate – evacuate.
The FEMA smartphone app provides safety tips and displays open shelter information at www.fema.gov/smartphone-app. To find an open Red Cross shelter, download the Red Cross Hurricane app or visit redcross.org.
To support potential pre- and post storm evacuations, in coordination with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through Emergency Support Function 8, FEMA has the capability to activate ambulance contracts to support state requirements to evacuate patients if needed and requested.
In anticipation of the potential impact from the storm, the American Red Cross mobilized hundreds of disaster workers, readying shelters and coordinating efforts with community partners in potentially affected states and the Department of Health and Human Services has two 50-person disaster medical assistance teams pre-staged in the mid-Atlantic, prepared to deploy quickly along the East Coast if needed. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers deployed temporary emergency power teams along the East Coast. Power teams consist of planning and response teams and resource support staff to assist with critical infrastructure.
The Department of Energy (DOE) is working closely with FEMA, and in support of state and local officials who are responsible for working with utilities as they prepare for storms, deployed emergency response personnel to FEMA Regional Response Coordination Centers (RRCC) in Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania, and additional personnel are on standby to assist. DOE is working with states and local partners as the electric industry begins the process of pre-mobilizing storm and field personnel to assist in power restoration efforts.
U.S. Northern Command deployed Regional Defense Coordinating Officers (DCO), and portions of the Defense Coordinating Element (DCE), in advance of the storm, to validate, plan and coordinate potential Department of Defense (DOD) support of FEMA’s response operations and to facilitate DOD support of life-saving and response operations. FEMA and DOD are establishing Incident Support Bases in Westover, Mass. and Lakehurst, New Jersey to position supplies including water, meals, blankets and other resources closer to potentially impacted areas, should they be needed.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is monitoring the storm and will take steps to prepare and protect FAA facilities and equipment that are in the projected path of the storm, including control towers, radars and navigational aids. The FAA’s top operational priority is to quickly re-establish air traffic service to support disaster relief efforts. The FAA Air Traffic System Command Center will maintain constant communications with the airlines, the military, business aviation and airports in the storm’s path. They will advise the FAA about their flight schedules and plans to evacuate aircraft from affected areas and the FAA will share information about the status of the air traffic control system and availability of air routes.
Take Action. Time is limited to prepare your family, home or business to lessen the impact of severe weather. Coastal and inland residents should ensure that their families have an emergency plan and emergency kits in their homes and cars. Some of the items in a basic emergency kit include: one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation; at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food; battery-powered radio and a NOAA Weather Radio; flashlight and extra batteries; and First Aid kit.
Those in areas where the storm is expected to produce snow should also have supplies in their emergency kits such as rock salt or environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways, snow shovels, adequate clothing and blankets to keep warm and heating fuel like dry, seasoned wood for the fireplace or wood-burning stove. Both hurricanes and winter storms often cause power outages, take steps now to ensure you can sustain yourself for at least 72 hours if needed.
More information about what to do before, during and after a disaster can also be found visiting www.ready.gov and www.listo.gov. The FEMA mobile site (http://m.fema.gov), smartphone app (www.fema.gov/smartphone-app), and text messages (www.fema.gov/text-messages) also provide regular updates. Sharing information using social media tools is also a good way for residents to stay informed. Follow FEMA online at www.fema.gov/blog, www.twitter.com/fema, www.facebook.com/fema, and www.youtube.com/fema.
Also visit www.lmddisastersurvivalkits.com
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
A message from FEMA.
MIAMI (Reuters) – Subtropical Storm Beryl moved slowly toward the U.S. southeastern coast on Saturday, threatening heavy rains and dangerous surf for Memorial Day weekend beachgoers in northern Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
Beryl was centered about 220 miles east-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, carrying maximum sustained winds of 45 mph. It was moving southwest, with tropical storm-force winds extending about 115 miles from the storm’s center.
The storm was not expected to develop into a hurricane, said Jack Beven, a senior hurricane specialist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.
Forecasts indicate the center of the storm will make landfall either late Sunday or early Monday, Beven said. Weather models show Beryl will eventually turn back toward the Atlantic, posing no threat to oil and gas production facilities in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.
Tropical storm warnings were in effect for Sunday from the Volusia/Brevard County line in northern Florida to Edisto Beach, South Carolina.
Dangerous surf conditions, unusually high tides and flooding were possible along the coasts of northeastern Florida, Georgia and South Carolina over the holiday weekend, the hurricane center said.
Total rainfall could reach between 3 and 6 inches in some areas, it said.
Beryl is being called a subtropical storm, meaning it has a broader wind field than tropical storms, and shower and thunderstorm activity farther removed from the storm’s center.
A change in the storm’s structure could see Beryl reclassified as a tropical storm but would not alter its potential impact, Beven said.
Beryl formed off the South Carolina coast late on Friday and is the second named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season, which has had an early start. The season officially runs from June 1 to November 30.
(Reporting by Kevin Gray; Editing by Peter Cooney)
FEMA, NOAA launches first National Severe Weather Preparedness Week April 22 – 28
As the nation marks the first anniversary of one of the largest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are teaming up this week to save lives from severe weather.
The two agencies encourage the public to “know your risk, take action, and be a force of nature” by taking proactive preparedness measures and inspiring others to do the same.
Last April, tornadoes raked the central and southern United States, spawning more than 300 tornadoes and claiming hundreds of lives. That devastating, historic outbreak was only one of many weather-related tragedies in 2011, which now holds the record for the greatest number of multi-billion dollar weather disasters in the nation’s history.
The country has already experienced early and destructive tornado outbreaks in the Midwest and South this year over the last two months, including a significant number of tornadoes last weekend. May is the peak season for tornadoes, so it is important to take action now.
“The damaging tornadoes that struck this year, causing widespread devastation as well as loss of life, also spurred many amazing and heroic survival stories,” said NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D. “In every one of these stories, people heard the warning, understood a weather hazard was imminent and took immediate action. We can build a Weather-Ready Nation by empowering people with the information they need to take preparedness actions across the country.”
“One of the lessons we can take away from the recent tornado outbreaks is that severe weather can happen anytime, anywhere,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “While we can’t control where or when it might hit, we can take steps in advance to prepare and that’s why we are asking people to pledge to prepare, and share with others so they will do the same.”
To “be a force of nature,” FEMA and NOAA encourage citizens to prepare for extreme weather by following these guidelines:
- Know your risk: The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family. Check the weather forecast regularly and sign up for alerts from your local emergency management officials. Severe weather comes in many forms and your shelter plan should include all types of local hazards.
- Take action: Pledge to develop an emergency plan based on your local weather hazards and practice how and where to take shelter. Create or refresh an emergency kit for needed food, supplies and medication. Post your plan where visitors can see it. Learn what you can do to strengthen your home or business against severe weather. Obtain a NOAA Weather Radio. Download FEMA’s mobile app so you can access important safety tips on what to do before and during severe weather. Understand the weather warning system and become a certified storm spotter through the National Weather Service.
- Be a force of nature: Once you have taken action, tell your family, friends, school staff and co-workers about how they can prepare. Share the resources and alert systems you discovered with your social media network. Studies show individuals need to receive messages a number of ways before acting – and you can be one of those sources. When you go to shelter during a warning, send a text, tweet or post a status update so your friends and family know. You might just save their lives, too. For more information on how you can participate, visit www.ready.gov/severeweather
Please visit www.LmdDisasterSurvivalKits.com
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. Take the pledge and learn more information at www.ready.gov/severeweather– and encourage the rest of your community to join.
NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Even expert storm chases would have struggled to decipher the difference between the tornado warnings sent last May before severe weather hit Joplin and, a few days later, headed again toward downtown Kansas City.
The first tornado was a massive EF-5 twister that killed 161 people as it wiped out a huge chunk of the southwest Missouri community. The second storm caused only minor damage when two weak tornadoes struck in the Kansas City suburbs.
In both cases, the warnings were harbingers of touchdowns. But three out of every four times the National Weather Service issues a formal tornado warning, there isn’t one. The result is a “cry wolf” phenomenon that’s dulled the effectiveness of tornado warnings, and one the weather service hopes to solve with what amounts to a scare tactic.
In a test that starts Monday, five weather service offices in Kansas and Missouri will use words such as “mass devastation,” ”unsurvivable” and “catastrophic” in a new kind of warning that’s based on the severity of a storm’s expected impact. The goal is to more effectively communicate the dangers of an approaching storm so people understand the risks they’re about to face.
“We’d like to think that as soon as we say there is a tornado warning, everyone would run to the basement,” said Ken Harding, a weather service official in Kansas City. “That’s not how it is. They will channel flip, look out the window or call neighbors. A lot of times people don’t react until they see it.”
The system being tested will create two tiers of warnings for thunderstorms and three tiers for tornadoes, each based on severity. A research team in North Carolina will analyze the results of the experiment, which runs through late fall, and help the weather service decide whether to expand the new warnings to other parts of the country.
Laura Myer, a social science research professor at Mississippi State University, said people she has interviewed want more advance warning about a potential tornado strike and more information on the specific locations where the storms are expected to hit.
“We have found in Mississippi and Alabama and various other Southern states that people feel they would constantly be going to a shelter if they heeded every tornado warning,” she said. “For people in mobile homes, that’s the craziest thing.
“To get to a shelter, they have to leave home,” she said. “They feel like if they left during every watch or warning, they would be on the road all the time.”
The primary audiences for weather service’s written bulletins are broadcasters who issue warnings on the air and emergency management agencies that activate sirens and respond to the storm’s aftermath. In the event of a Joplin-like tornado, the new-look warning would have an urgency hard to ignore.
Andy Bailey, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Pleasant Hill, Mo., said it might look something like this: “THIS IS AN EXTREMELY DANGEROUS TORNADO WITH COMPLETE DEVASTATION LIKELY. … SEEK SHELTER NOW! … MOBILE HOMES AND OUTBUILDINGS WILL OFFER NO SHELTER FROM THIS TORNADO — ABANDON THEM IMMEDIATELY.”
Had such a warning come across his television set on May 22, Joplin resident Jeff Lehr said he might have sought shelter. Instead, it wasn’t until a siren distracted him from a sporting event he was watching on TV that he looked out a window and saw what appeared to be dark thunderstorm clouds.
Even then, he didn’t take cover until the windows began imploding in his apartment.
“After hundreds of times of similar thunderstorms approaching Joplin, many of those with tornado warnings attached, and you see them pass … after all those storms, you kind of get jaundiced about the warnings and tend not to give them the weight you probably should give them,” said Lehr, a reporter at The Joplin Globe.
James Spann, chief meteorologist with WBMA-TV in Birmingham, Ala., said the impact-based warning experiment could provide broadcasters and emergency management agencies with a useful tool in an age when a majority of people still wait for an outdated technology — tornado sirens — to seek shelter.
He blames the siren mentality and high number of false alarms for the complacency of people living in tornado-prone areas such as Alabama, where 252 people were killed last April 27 in a tornado outbreak that struck communities across the South.
“A lot of politicians and people who don’t understand tornadoes try to jump into this,” Spann said. “Their first reaction is, ‘We’ve got to get more sirens.’ What are these people thinking? They clearly do not understand the issue.”
WASHINGTON – The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are once again partnering for National Flood Safety Awareness Week, March 12 -16. This is a time for individuals, families, businesses and communities to understand their risk for flooding and take precautions to protect their families and homes in the event of flooding.
“Floods can happen at any time, anywhere across the United States, which means we all need to be prepared now,” said FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate. “There are simple steps everyone can take to prepare for flooding, such as developing a family emergency plan, having an emergency supply kit and protecting your home or business from flooding by obtaining a flood insurance policy.”
Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States, however not all floods are alike. Floods typically occur when too much rain falls or snow melts too quickly. While some floods develop slowly, flash floods develop suddenly. Hurricanes can bring flooding to areas far inland from where they first hit the coast, as we witnessed last year from the devastating impacts of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. And chunks of ice from a thawing river can block its normal flow and force water out of its banks.
Yet there are simple steps citizens can take today to reduce their risk to all types of floods. Flood Safety Awareness Week is an excellent time for individuals and communities to understand their flood risk and implement precautions to mitigate the threat to life and property.
“Flooding is the leading cause of severe weather-related deaths in the U.S., and this is especially tragic since many are preventable. Of the nearly 100 flood-related fatalities each year, most occur as people attempt to drive on flooded roads. In many cases, the water is either too deep or moving too fast for drivers to maintain control of their vehicle, and in extreme cases the roadway may be washed away entirely,” said Jack Hayes, director, NOAA’s National Weather Service, which produces an array of flood outlooks and forecasts, including watches and life-saving warnings. “Remember, if confronted with a water-covered road follow National Weather Service advice: Turn Around, Don’t Drown.”
NOAA will issue the 2012 U.S. Spring Outlook and flood assessment on March 15.
FEMA and NOAA will provide the public with key information related to flood hazards, and ways to protect yourself and your property each day of National Flood Safety Awareness week. Read http://blog.fema.gov/ throughout the week to stay informed and to get involved. Additional resources can be accessed online at the Flood Awareness Landing Page.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
Winter Weather Patters Can Increase Risk For Flooding
Take Steps to Prepare Now and Protect Yourself and Your Family
WASHINGTON – Floods are a year-round hazard and do not end when cold weather begins. Although this winter has not yet proven to be as severe as in past years, the coming months can bring about a range of conditions across the country that could affect your community. Areas that receive less snow and rain this winter season may later experience drought-like conditions that, when it does rain, can lead to flash flooding. The onset of seasonal rains and snowmelt can also lead to flooding. FEMA encourages citizens to understand the unique flood risks associated with winter weather, and prepare now with an emergency plan, which may include purchasing flood insurance to protect property and possessions from flood damage.
Winter rainy season in the Pacific Northwest consistently delivers intense winter storms and the majority of annual precipitation to that region. Residents may also face an increased risk of flooding and mudslides because of recent wildfires that leave the ground charred and unable to absorb excess water generated by rain and snow. Across the country, particularly in the Midwest and Northeast, heavy snowfall, ice jams, rapid snowmelt, and intense rainstorms caused by fluctuating temperatures can all increase the likelihood and the severity of localized flooding.
The good news is that there are simple steps that citizens can take to address these risks. These include having an emergency supply kit with items such as non-perishable food, water, and a flashlight with batteries, and a family emergency plan that considers your insurance coverage, especially flood insurance. Anyone can visit ready.gov for helpful tips on how to prepare for the risks associated with flooding.
“When it comes to reducing the vulnerability to natural disasters, the whole community has a role to play, and that includes individual citizens,” said David Miller, associate administrator for FEMA’s Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration. “One of the most critical ways residents can protect their homes and businesses from the severe weather that may cause flooding is to obtain flood insurance.”
Many people mistakenly believe that their homeowners insurance covers flood damage. Only flood insurance financially protects properties from flooding, which is the nation’s most common and costly natural disaster. However, it typically takes 30 days for a new flood insurance policy to take effect, so residents should not wait for a storm to strike before purchasing coverage. It only takes a few inches of water in a home or business to cause thousands of dollars of damage. The time to get protected is now.
Between 2006 and 2010, the average flood claim was nearly $34,000. That’s more than many survivors can afford to pay out of pocket for damages due to flooding. While no one wants a flood to impact them, with federally backed flood insurance, citizens have an important financial safety net to help cover costs to repair or rebuild if a flood should strike. Individuals can learn more about flood risk and their options for insurance coverage by visiting FloodSmart.gov or by calling 1-800-427-2419.
….WASHINGTON (AP) — The sun is bombarding Earth with radiation from the biggest solar storm in more than six years with more to come from the fast-moving eruption.
The solar flare occurred at about 11 p.m. EST Sunday and will hit Earth with three different effects at three different times. The biggest issue is radiation, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Colorado.
The radiation is mostly a concern for satellite disruptions and astronauts in space. It can cause communication problems for polar-traveling airplanes, said space weather center physicist Doug Biesecker.
Radiation from Sunday’s flare arrived at Earth an hour later and will likely continue through Wednesday. Levels are considered strong but other storms have been more severe. There are two higher levels of radiation on NOAA’s storm scale — severe and extreme — Biesecker said. Still, this storm is the strongest for radiation since May 2005.
The radiation — in the form of protons — came flying out of the sun at 93 million miles per hour.
“The whole volume of space between here and Jupiter is just filled with protons and you just don’t get rid of them like that,” Biesecker said. That’s why the effects will stick around for a couple days.
NASA’s flight surgeons and solar experts examined the solar flare’s expected effects and decided that the six astronauts on the International Space Station do not have to do anything to protect themselves from the radiation, spokesman Rob Navias said.
A solar eruption is followed by a one-two-three punch, said Antti Pulkkinen, a physicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and Catholic University.
First comes electromagnetic radiation, followed by radiation in the form of protons.
Then, finally the coronal mass ejection — that’s the plasma from the sun itself — hits. Usually that travels at about 1 or 2 million miles per hour, but this storm is particularly speedy and is shooting out at 4 million miles per hour, Biesecker said.
It’s the plasma that causes much of the noticeable problems on Earth, such as electrical grid outages. In 1989, a solar storm caused a massive blackout in Quebec. It can also pull the northern lights further south.
But this coronal mass ejection seems likely to be only moderate, with a chance for becoming strong, Biesecker said. The worst of the storm is likely to go north of Earth.
And unlike last October, when a freak solar storm caused auroras to be seen as far south as Alabama, the northern lights aren’t likely to dip too far south this time, Biesecker said. Parts of New England, upstate New York, northern Michigan, Montana and the Pacific Northwest could see an aurora but not until Tuesday evening, he said.
For the past several years the sun had been quiet, almost too quiet. Part of that was the normal calm part of the sun’s 11-year cycle of activity. Last year, scientists started to speculate that the sun was going into an unusually quiet cycle that seems to happen maybe once a century or so.
Now that super-quiet cycle doesn’t seem as likely, Biesecker said.
Scientists watching the sun with a new NASA satellite launched in 2010 — during the sun’s quiet period — are excited.
“We haven’t had anything like this for a number of years,” Pulkkinen said. “It’s kind of special.”
NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory: http://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/
From Washington AP
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