It's all hype until it shows up in your town. Then it's "Why weren't we warned?" followed by "Why weren't we better prepared?"
Has your child's school taken any steps to reduce the risk of injury from extreme weather, including violent tornadoes? I wouldn't hesitate to ask your school administrators. Last week brought 214 tornadoes, some monstrous EF-4 in strength.
In today's weather blog: a school in Memphis retrofitted a few hallways with 6-inch steel frames designed to resist 250-mph wind loads and sudden spikes in pressure.
I work with Fortune 500 companies to reduce their weather risk, but I often wonder if we're making the investments necessary to protect our most precious resource, our kids.
There's some risk of a severe weather outbreak close to home by Thursday, as warm air surges northward.
After the 15th snowiest winter (nearly 70 inches) and 2nd wettest April, a cool bias shows signs of lingering indefinitely.
The southern USA is warming rapidly but northern states can't quite shake off March. A strong north-south temperature gradient sets the stage for heavier rain and more severe storm outbreaks. I'm betting on cooler/wetter into June.
I hope I'm wrong.
Some specific tips from NOAA SPC include:
- If the school's alarm system relies on electricity, have a compressed air horn or megaphone to sound the alert in case of power failure.
- Make special provisions for disabled students and those in portable classrooms. Portable classrooms are like mobile homes -- exceptionally dangerous in a tornado.
- Make sure someone knows how to turn off electricity and gas in the event the school is damaged.
- Keep children at school beyond regular hours if threatening weather is expected; and inform parents of this policy. Children are safer deep within a school than in a bus or car. Students should not be sent home early if severe weather is approaching, because they may still be out on the roads when it hits.
- Lunches or assemblies in large rooms should be postponed if severe weather is approaching. As illustrated above, gymnasiums, cafeterias, and auditoriums offer no meaningful protection from tornado-strength winds. Also, even if there is no tornado, severe thunderstorms can generate winds strong enough to cause major damage.
File photo: Karl Greer. U.S. Forest Service.
■ Eliminate all subsidies for fuels.
■ Attach all costs to fuels. Coal would be assessed for its environmental and safety impacts, for instance.
■ Ensure revenue neutrality.
One sensible solution is a swap that taxes carbon and reduces income taxes or payroll taxes by an equal amount. It would reduce what we won’t want — carbon — and increase what we do want — jobs..."
- from an Op-Ed from the Florida Times-Union, at jacksonville.com. More details below.
Our Lonely Home In Nature. No, nature is neither friend nor foe. It merely is - set in motion by the same forces that created Earth. MIT Physicist Alan Lightman has a very good read in this Op-Ed at The New York Times; here's an excerpt: "...The recent report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change documents the damage now being done by human-created greenhouse gases and global warming. In reacting to the report, we should not be concerned about protecting our planet. Nature can survive far more than what we can do to it and is totally oblivious to whether homo sapiens lives or dies in the next hundred years. Our concern should be about protecting ourselves — because we have only ourselves to protect us."
File photo: Steve Parsons. AP.
Photo credit above: "Icebergs from the Columbia Glacier in Alaska. For years scientists have recorded calving events on sensitive earthquake detectors. Now they are realizing the recordings could offer valuable insight for climate science." Photo courtesy NASA.
Cartoon credit above: David Horsey.
Photo above: Bo Rader, The Wichita Eagle.
Illustration credit: Daniela Gonzalez.