Thursday, November 29, 2007

2007 Tornado Fatality Information

Lydia LALady Lake FLPaisley/DeLand FLGentilly LA3 SW Caulfield MOMillers Ferry ALEnterprise ALPotterville GANorth Newton GAAmericus GA6 SE Clovis NM2 E Elmwood OKHolly CO13 SSW Canadian TXHaltom City TX4 E Mulberry SCEagle Pass TXGreensburg KSHopewell KS2 SSE Macksville KS3 S Bennington KSNorthwood NDParis MOKalkaska MIWilliamston MI
All times are CST.
NOTE: Tornado related fatalities are entered once confirmed by NWS Weather Forecast Offices.
Num Date Time Location Deaths F Watch

January Killer Tornadoes: 1 Fatalities: 2
01 Jan 4 03:45 PM Lydia LA 2 F1 WT001
Three mobile homes flipped over trapping seven least five brick homes received major damage.

February Killer Tornadoes: 3 Fatalities: 22
02 Feb 2 02:15 AM Lady Lake FL 8 F3 WT015
Mobile homes completely destroyed.
03 Feb 2 02:45 AM Paisley/DeLand FL 13 F3 WT015
Complete destruction of mobile homes.
04 Feb 13 03:10 AM Gentilly LA 1 F2 WT018
Several homes damaged...trailers and a hotel destroyed.

March Killer Tornadoes: 10 Fatalities: 27
05 Mar 1 06:33 AM 3 SW Caulfield MO 1 F3 WT042
Damage reported to two gas stations, four mobile homes and two frame homes.
06 Mar 1 12:30 PM Millers Ferry AL 1 F4 WT044
Manufactured home destroyed.
07 Mar 1 01:05 PM Enterprise AL 9 F4 WT046
High School severely damaged.
08 Mar 1 04:35 PM Potterville GA 1 F2 WT046
Heaviest damage southwest of Potterville.
09 Mar 1 06:30 PM North Newton GA 6 F2 WT046
Mobile homes damaged.
10 Mar 1 08:22 PM Americus GA 2 F2 WT046
Significant damage to homes and hospital.
11 Mar 23 07:54 PM 6 SE Clovis NM 2 F2 WT070
Mobile home rolled.
12 Mar 28 07:30 PM 2 E Elmwood OK 2 F2 WT082
House and shed totally destroyed.
13 Mar 28 08:00 PM Holly CO 2 F3
Large tornado destroyed mobile home.
14 Mar 28 09:50 PM 13 SSW Canadian TX 1 F3 WT082
Trailer destroyed.

April Killer Tornadoes: 3 Fatalities: 9
15 Apr 13 06:10 PM Haltom City TX 1 F1 WT135
Damage to grocery store, several homes and a church steeple.
16 Apr 15 06:37 AM 4 E Mulberry SC 1 F3 WT145
Destroyed several mobile homes.
17 Apr 24 07:01 PM Eagle Pass TX 7 F3 WT179
An elementary school destroyed and a number of mobile homes damaged.

May Killer Tornadoes: 4 Fatalities: 13
18 May 4 08:45 PM Greensburg KS 10 F5 WT227
Large tornado, much of torn damaged or destroyed.
19 May 4 09:33 PM Hopewell KS 1 F3 WT227
Two houses destroyed...sheriff dies of injuries sustained when patrol car was damaged by tornado.
20 May 4 10:35 PM 2 SSE Macksville KS 1 F3 WT227
Several homes damaged or destroyed.
21 May 5 10:30 PM 3 S Bennington KS 1 F2 WT235
Woman killed when camper was damaged by tornado.

August Killer Tornadoes: 1 Fatalities: 1
22 Aug 26 07:45 PM Northwood ND 1 F4 WT653
One male fatality in mobile home. Significant damage to town of Northwood.

October Killer Tornadoes: 3 Fatalities: 5
23 Oct 17 11:05 PM Paris MO 2 F2 WT714
Mobile home tossed 1/3rd mile into field.
24 Oct 18 07:35 PM Kalkaska MI 1 F2 WT724
Considerable property damage.
25 Oct 18 08:45 PM Williamston MI 2 F2 WT724
Modular home with two occupants flipped into a pond.

StateKiller TorFatalities
FL 2 21
KS 4 13
AL 2 10
GA 3 9
TX 3 9
MO 2 3
LA 2 3
MI 2 3
NM 1 2
OK 1 2
CO 1 2
ND 1 1
SC 1 1
TOTAL 25 79
F ScaleKiller TorFatalities
F0 0 0
F1 2 3
F2 10 20
F3 9 35
F4 3 11
F5 1 10
F? 0 0
TOTAL 25 79
Mobile Home 52
Permanent Home 15
Vehicle 1
Business 10
Outside/Open 1

Top/Climatological Data/Home

Updated: Sunday Oct 21, 2007 12:32 AM

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Survivors tell of Bangladesh cyclone horror

By Pavel Rahman

Barguna - Azahar Ali was huddled with his family, reading from the Qur'an, when the cyclone roared in from the sea. First the power went out, then screaming winds blew out the windows and ripped off the roof. Then the sea rushed in, washing them away.

"I have lost everything," the 80-year-old man said on Monday recounting how he awoke in a rice paddy to find eight relatives - including his son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren - dead, among the thousands of people killed when the cyclone hit Bangladesh.

Details of the devastation and the stories of the survivors are now beginning to emerge as rescuers reached areas cut off because of washed-out roads and downed telephone lines.

'The monster waves swept her away from me'
At least 3 113 people were killed and more than 1 000 are still missing after Cyclone Sidr struck on Thursday, said Lieutenant Colonel Main Ullah Chowdhury, an army spokesperson. But there were fears the toll could be much higher.

On Monday, in the village of Parulkhel, residents and rescuers used bamboo poles to prod flooded fields, looking for submerged bodies. Finding a woman's corpse, others rushed in with sacks and plastic sheeting to help lift it out. Onlookers gathered, and one weeping man identified her as his mother.

"Some were identified and taken away by relatives, we buried dozens of others near where we found them," said Ali Akbar, a volunteer.

Others sifted through the remains of the village - a chaotic jumble of mud and debris from the wood, bamboo and corrugated iron homes, fallen trees and bloated animal carcasses - looking for things to salvage. A rotten stench filled the air.

In the neighbouring village of Bainsamarta, Sheikh Mubarak, 40, sat among the ruins of his hut weeping for his 12-year-old daughter.

'Just before midnight the winds came like hundreds of demons'
"As our house was washed away by walls of water, I grabbed my daughter and ran for shelter. The monster waves swept her away from me," he said. "Allah should have taken me instead."

Survivors said many of the deaths could have been prevented but people failed to heed warnings to move to higher ground.

"Nothing is going to happen. That was our first thought and we went to bed," said Dhalan Mridha, a 45-year-old farm worker from the village of Galachipa.

"Just before midnight the winds came like hundreds of demons. Our small hut was swept away like a piece of paper, and we all ran for shelter," he said.

Meanwhile, the government and relief agencies stepped up efforts to get help to the devastated areas.

Army helicopters airlifted high-protein cookies supplied by the World Food Program, said Emamul Haque, a spokesperson for the WFP office in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, which is coordinating international relief efforts.

International aid organisations promised initial packages of $25-million (about R169-million) during a meeting with Bangladesh agencies on Monday, Haque said.

But relief items such as tents, rice and water have been slow to reach many.

In the town of Barguna long lines of anxious people formed at the market, waiting for word that help was on the way.

"We have been waiting here for several hours, but no relief," said Uthan Ching, who left clutching a still-empty plastic bag.

Government officials defended the relief efforts and expressed confidence that authorities are up to the task.

"We have enough food and water," said Shahidul Islam, the top official in Bagerhat, a battered district near the town of Barguna. "We are going to overcome the problem."

Some, though, predicted things could become even worse.

The Bangladesh Red Crescent Society, the Islamic equivalent of the Red Cross, warned the toll could hit 10 000 once rescuers reach outlying islands.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that several million dollars were available from the UN's emergency response funds, depending on the need.

Many foreign governments and international groups have also pledged to help.

The United States offered $2,1-million and two US Marine Corp. transport planes have arrived in Dhaka with medical supplies, said Chowdhury, the army spokesman

An American military medical team is already in Bangladesh and two US naval ships, each carrying at least 20 helicopters, among tons of other supplies, will be made available if the Bangladesh government requests them, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement.

Other governments and organisations that pledged aid include the German government, which offered about $730 000, the European Union with $2,2-million, and the British government with $5,1-million. France pledged about $730 000, Japan sent $318 000 in relief supplies, Italy's Roman Catholic bishops' conference said it was donating $2,9-million, while the Philippines said it would send a medical team.

Every year, storms batter Bangladesh, a country of 150 million, often killing large numbers of people. The most deadly recent storm was a tornado that levelled 80 villages in northern Bangladesh in 1996, killing 621 people. - Sapa-AP


Thistle Alpha

Petrofac, as duty holder of the Thistle Alpha installation on behalf of Lundin Britain Limited, can confirm that following the incident this morning, 116 non essential personnel have been down manned to the nearby Murchison and Dunlin platforms.

There were originally 159 personnel on board and 43 personnel remain on the platform. All are safe and well.

A fire was reported on the platform at 08.07 on November 25th in the turbine module and was confirmed extinguished at 10:00 am.

All relevant authorities have been notified. A full investigation as to the cause of the fire is underway.

The Thistle Alpha installation is located approximately 523 km (325 miles) north north east of Aberdeen and comprises a steel jacket supporting a three deck platform, accommodation and helideck.

Maria Hamilton, a spokesperson for Lundin Petroleum, said total oil production of the Thistle Alpha platform is 5,000 barrels a day. A spokesman at Petrofac also confirmed production at the platform has stopped completely.


From The Cargo Letter - Nov. 23 2007 -Tragedy Off Antarctica

ALERT>>>2400 gt passenger M/V Explorer (built 1969) ran into trouble about 0524 GMT Nov. 23, near King George Island in the Antarctic Ocean began sinking after she hit ice, near the South Shetland Islands. About 100 passengers & 54 crew members have been evacuated and are in lifeboats. Capt. the Chief Officer remained on board the vessel until everyone was evacuated. The vessel is owned by Toronto-based GAP Adventures. M/V Explorer hit a lump of ice off King George Island this morning and the impact left the vessel with a crack in the hull the size of a fist. Weather conditions were "fairly good" for this time of year, but it would be cold. Liner about to sink. The vessel had a 30 degree list. A rescue operation is being co-ordinated by the U.S. Coast Guard in Norfolk, Virginia, with the authorities in Ushuaia, Argentina. M/V Antarctic Dream, which is in the area, has been diverted to help the rescue. GAP Adventures said 23 Britons, 17 Dutch, 10 Australians, 13 Americans & 10 Canadians were among the passengers -- remaining nationalities of the rescued tourists are Irish, Danish, Swiss, Belgian, Japanese, French, German & Chinese. M/V Explorer was the 1st custom-built expedition ship -- known as the 'Little Red Ship' to aficionado, she became the first passenger vessel to navigate the North West passage in 1984 and was involved in rescue of crew from Argentine cargo vessel off Anvers Island, Antarctica, in 1989. From our Sr. Correspondent Tim Schwabedissen and our Correspondent A. Griffiths (Fri. Nov. 23 2007 am)


Monday, November 26, 2007

Disasters Getting Worse -- US Government Must Be Better Prepared, Report Urge

ScienceDaily (Nov. 12, 2007)

Disasters are getting worse it seems but the federal government's preparedness has been limited to helping after a disaster has occurred. On the other hand, local organizations often do not have the resources or the training to effectively react.

Federal and state support must now be given to programs that enable local governments to work effectively with communities to prepare for and respond to all disasters. That is the conclusion of a new analysis in the International Journal of Emergency Management.

Colin Falato, Susan Smith, and Tyler Kress of the Health and Safety Programs at the University of Tennessee, have looked at the preparedness of local and federal governments in their response to natural and human-induced disasters and found them seriously lacking. They suggest that it should be the responsibility of local government officials as well as citizens to work together to adapt the disaster-response programs to suit communities' needs.

Historically, the belief that local knowledge and experience is best suited to dealing with common natural disasters, such as hurricanes, tornados and floods, has meant that responsibility for disaster preparedness and response has been devolved to local organizations and communities themselves. Federal government intervention has been limited to assistance after the disaster. The same is true for other natural, civil, technological, and ecological disasters, the researchers explain.

In the last 25 years, the researchers point out, the continental USA has issued almost 1000 disaster declarations (902) and been subjected to 442 natural disasters. Among these natural disasters are hurricanes, fires, windstorms, earthquakes, tornados and floods. But, disasters are not limited to natural events.

September 11, 2001 refocused the country's attention on disaster preparedness and the realization that there was a lack of preparedness for such disasters. One effect of the 9/11 Commission was to mould two new organizations charged with the responsibility of protecting the USA from a new era of technological disasters. The US Northern Command (NORTHCOM) is the military arm responsible for homeland defense and the US Department of Homeland Security, which leads a unified national effort to secure the USA from potential terrorist attacks.

Four directorates were brought together from Homeland Security, including the Emergency Preparedness and Response Directorate, which includes FEMA, and is tasked with domestic disaster preparedness training to help families make their homes safer from disasters of all kinds. This is similar in aims to the CitizenCorps developed by NORTHCOM. These initiatives are already having an impact on response capacity and equipment availability for certain communities in the USA. However, the rapid response required of a national disaster situation involves training local elected officials in every community to take control in a disaster situation.

The recent focus of US disaster funding has focused on terrorist events, but the benefits from this technological disaster preparedness orientation should crossover to natural disaster preparedness, the researchers suggest. In the US fledgling agencies are only now beginning to find their niche in the comprehensive overview of emergency management and the benefits they will be able to provide to communities have not been fully realized.

"It is the responsibility of the local governments to encourage the participation in disaster exercises and planning, and they must demonstrate a commitment to community disaster preparedness," the researchers say, "When these roles are met head on, then local communities within the USA will truly be better prepared when a local or national disaster, natural or technological occurs."


USCG – finding answers to the COSCO BUSAN oil spill

The US Coast Guard released a statement from Admiral Thad Allen, Commandant, regarding the agency’s efforts to determine exactly what happened with regard to the allision of the container ship COSCO BUSAN with a pier of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and the response to the subsequent oil spill. (11/16/07).

Hearing on San Francisco Bay oil spill

On November 19, the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure conducted a field hearing on the San Francisco November 2007 Oil Spill Causes and Response. As noted in the Summary of Subject Matter, the November 7 incident resulted in a spill of approximately 58,000 gallons of bunker fuel. Mayor Gavin Newsome of the City of San Francisco testified concerning his perception of the lack of coordination during the initial spill response. Rear Admiral Craig Bone, USCG, testified concerning the difficulty in quickly determining the volume of oil spilled and in the ongoing efforts of the Unified Command to keep other stakeholders advised on the situation. Dr. William Conner, National Ocean Service, explained the support his agency provided to the Unified Command. Mr. Mike Chrisman, California Resources Agency, stated that the response was immediate and consistent with approved guidelines. Mr. David Lewis, Save the Bay Association, testified concerning the need to assess the environmental damage and begin the remediation and restoration efforts. Mr. W. F. Grader, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, explained the difficulty his members faced when they volunteered to assist in the response effort. Captain Thomas Hand, San Francisco Bar Pilot, explained the training program and oversight mechanism of the Bar Pilots. (11/19/07).


Friday, November 23, 2007

Sneaker or Freak Waves?

British hero father and son, 5, die after being hit by freak wave in Spain

My good friend and expert on freak waves PC Liu has more on this story!

Terror unfolded along the Spanish coastline this morning as a British holidaymaker and his five-year-old son drowned in a freak accident in front of their family.

The man, whose surname is Howlet, died after jumping into the sea to save his two children after they were swept into the water by a wave as they photographed the stormy waves along the coast.

Mr Howlet, 32, managed to pull his older child, a seven-year-old, to safety but drowned along with his younger son before he could reach the shore. His wife witnessed the tragedy from a few feet away but was helpless to save them.

Their bodies were later pulled from the ocean after being spotted by a coastguard helicopter.

Scroll down for more ...

Tragedy: The Spanish resort of Tossa de Mar, where the boy and his father drowned

A diver has told how he tried desperately to save the pair as they drowned off the Spanish resort of Tossa de Mar.

Argentine Ezequiel Mizrahi, 38, who runs a nearby diving centre, said: "The father was taking photos of his two sons on rocks right next to the sea when a wave knocked them off balance and swept them into the water.

"I raced to get my wet suit when I saw what had happened and by the time I got back local police were already on the scene.

"The father had managed to get one of his sons to safety but the current was taking him and his younger son further and further out.

"I tried to get across the breaking waves to reach them with the help of a rope the police gave me but it was impossible.

"Every time I tried the sea just sucked me under and threw me back onto the sand.

"The first time I attempted to reach them I could see the pair's faces. They were not shouting and were just struggling to keep their heads above water.

"Then I lost sight of them. By the seventh or eighth time of trying the police told me to give up.

"I didn't see the boys' mum in all the chaos but she was around and so apparently was their grandma.

"The local police reached the scene so quickly because a local politician had been walking nearby and alerted them on his mobile."

The tragedy happened around 11am local time this morning at a beach in the resort of Tossa de Mar near Girona in north east Spain.

Coastguards pulled their bodies out of the sea after a firefighters' helicopter located them floating in the water by a nearby lighthouse.

The dead man's wife and surviving child were being treated in hospital. The woman is thought to be suffering from shock.

A local hotel worker told how he had seen the two children at the centre of this morning's tragedy playing on the beach minutes before they were swept into the sea.

The man, who asked not to be named, said: "I drove by in my van about 15 minutes before it happened and saw them playing on the rocks by the water.

"The sea was pretty stormy, the waves were about two to three metres high and I thought it was a bit risky for the children to be there.

"It was definitely red flag-type conditions. I didn't see the parents anywhere.

"The place where it happened is near a beauty spot which overlooks the bay but there's no buildings nearby.

"We've been told a freak wave dragged both youngsters into the sea and their father died along with his younger son as he tried to save them both."

The diver Ezequiel added: "The sea was pretty stormy and there was a strong wind. The spray from the waves must have been reaching the ten-metre mark.

"The rocks are a lovely place to take a photo but not in the weather conditions at the time.

"Every so often three or four big waves would come along and they made the area where the family was very dangerous."

A spokesman for Spain's Civil Guard in Girona, which is probing the incident, said: "The father died after jumping into the sea to rescue his sons when they lost their footing on the rocks.

"He managed to rescue one but died after going back in for the other."

Tossa de Mar, around 20 miles south of Girona, is far removed from brasher resorts in the area like Lloret de Mar.

It is popular with families and couples. Mar Menuda where the tragedy happened is popular with scuba divers in the summer because of its clear waters.

A police spokesman said: "What we understand happened is that the father died as he tried to rescue his two children after they swept into the sea by waves.

"He managed to pull the older one to safety but died as he tried to rescue the younger one.

"The children's mother was on the shoreline and witnessed the tragedy unfolding.

"Coastguards pulled the two bodies out of the water."

A spokesman for local coastguards added: "There was a strong force seven to eight wind in the area at the time and the sea was pretty choppy with waves several feet high.

"The bodies were located at a lighthouse the other side of the bay from where the incident happened.

"One of our vessels retrieved the bodies after being guided to the area by a firefighter's helicopter."

The sandy beach where the tragedy happened, a sandy cove known as Mar Menuda, is thought to have been deserted at the time because of the bad weather.

Authorities have not yet disclosed the family's name.

Heavy rains meanwhile hit southern Spain, with more than 1,000 homes partly under water in Utrera near Seville. Dozens of people were evacuated.

In nearby Ecija, the River Genil was about to overflow its banks.

Today's deaths follow the drownings of three British holidaymakers in the Algarve this summer.

Robert and Deborah Fry, from Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, dived into rough waters in a desperate attempt to save four youngsters during a half-term holiday.

They, along with friend and fellow holidaymaker Jean Dinsmore, also from Wootton Bassett, died in the ill-fated rescue bid off Praia do Tonel beach near Sagres on October 22.

The Frys' children, Rosie, 11, and George, nine, and Mrs Dinsmore's husband Roy, daughter Lydia, 11, and son Alexander, nine, survived the tragedy


THE PHILIPPINES: The Philippines is getting ready to evacuate 100,000 people from coastal areas in the central Bicol region as typhoon Mitag gathers strength and approaches. Recent rains have already saturated the ground around Mayon volcano in Bicol, this is why about 10,000 people have already been evacuated from its slopes. People were warned of possible flashfloods and rain-induced landslides. There is a risk of coastal villages being slammed by big waves up to 10 meters. Mitag, is currently a category 1 typhoon with winds of 120 km/h and gusts of up to 150 km/h, and if it doesn't change direction, it is expected to make landfall by Saturday.

Cosco Busan Oil Trajectory Map

Iceberg smash sinks cruiseliner

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MORE than 20 British passengers are among 154 people forced to abandon a cruiseliner sinking in the Antarctic Ocean.

The captain and first officer gave the order to leave the MV Explorer after it was holed by an iceberg. They were the only men to remain on board.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We have not had any reports of anyone seriously injured. We are in contact with all the relevant authorities. STORY


Wednesday, November 21, 2007


From us at Robin Storm to all of our readers!

Remember those who are separated from their loved ones.

Those who are serving abroad in our armed forces.

Those who serve with the maritime service.

Those who bring us our weather reports.

And those who do not have what we all have today!

God Bless!

Monster waves less of a threat with smart radar

Monster waves less of a threat with smart radar

12:55 21 November 2007 news service By Paul Marks

(Left - A new algorithm produces a more accurate video image of ocean surface elevations across a broad area (Image: University of Alcalá)

Waves the size of 10-storey buildings that rear up suddenly from an apparently benign sea are the stuff of sailor's nightmares. Such "rogue waves" can sink a ship or damage an off-shore platform, but a new radar early warning system could give crews a fighting chance to either evade the waves, or at least batten down the hatches.

Ocean Waves, a German maritime radar company, and radar expert Jose Nieto of the University of Alcalá in Spain, have developed a technology that promises to identify large waves. Details of the system were presented at a conference on wave forecasting held in Oahu, Hawaii, last week.

They developed software that makes sense of the radar measurements of a tumbling, frothy ocean surface, from an instrument fixed to the deck of a ship or the side of a platform.

"The reflected radar picture from the wave does not depend entirely on the wave's height, but also on other factors like the local wind speed, sea-surface roughness, and the wave inclination," Nieto says.

The new algorithm filters out these noisy parameters and produces a more accurate video image of ocean surface elevations across a broad area (see image, top right).

Mariners' tales

For centuries mariners have told tales of sudden monster waves. But because they occur only rarely – and fleetingly at that – their existence has been hard to confirm. One sign that they do exist is the inexplicable loss of enormous vessels at sea.

The Derbyshire, for instance, a 295-metre British bulk carrier, disappeared with all 44 crewmembers of the coast of Japan in 1980. An inquiry carried out in 2000 concluded that a rogue wave most probably cracked open the vessel's main cargo hatch, flooding the hold.

Then, in February 2001, two cruise ships, the Bremen and the Caledonian Star, were seriously battered by separate 30-metre-tall waves in the South Atlantic.

By chance, the waves that did the damage were roughly measured by two European Space Agency (ESA) satellites – ERS-1 and ERS-2 – that were using radar instruments to monitor sea-surface levels and happened to be passing over the area in question.

Early warning

With definitive proof that giant, freak waves do exist, research began in earnest on the developing a warning system for ships and offshore platforms – to give sailors and workers a chance to prepare for the deluge.

Tests carried out so far on ships in the North Sea and off the Spanish coast are promising, says Nieto. The algorithm detected groups of waves between 8 and 15 metres high up to 3 kilometres away. And, with changes to radar signal wavelengths, he thinks it should do even better.

Proving that the technology will spot rogue waves will be tricky, though. "A giant wave is a special case of the groups of waves we are successfully detecting now – but it would be a single mountain of water," says Jens Dannenberg, a physicist at Ocean Waves.

"It should do the job – but it's hard to prove when you do not have such a monster wave to test it on," he adds.


Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hurricane Detection Gains an Ally

Hurricane Detection Gains an Ally
By Joshua Hill

Friday, November 16, 2007

Weather is tough to predict at the best of times, with Mother Nature not necessarily bringing the human need to know what clothes to wear in to her equations. But it gets even trickier when trying to predict hurricanes.

The 2005 hurricane season was a notable time for meteorologists, as they witnessed quickly intensifying tropical depressions turn in to massive hurricanes in the blink of an eye. Sadly, a similar event happened with Hurricane Humberto making the leap from depression to category one hurricane in less than 24 hours.

“It made the transition from tropical depression to hurricane within 24 hours right before landfall. It was a record breaker,” says NASA atmospheric scientist Robbie Hood.

No one knows if this is a trend that will continue, or just a few freak turns of climate.

“Forecasting intensity is one of the biggest problems we have right now with hurricanes,” says Hood. But Hood and her team of researchers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center are making strides toward solving that problem with a new invention called HIRAD, short for Hurricane Imaging Radiometer.

To construct a proper computer model to predict the outcome of a hurricane, one needs to be able to measure wind speeds at the base of the storm. In particular, winds close to the eye of the storm, and in the eye wall. But, naturally, that close to the frothing torrent of wind, is not an easy place to acquire data.

This is where HIRAD comes in to the picture. Designed to operate from an airplane or satellite, “HIRAD will see from above through a hurricane’s heaviest rains and thickest clouds to measure the intense winds at the surface of the ocean,” says Hood.

“Strong winds sweep and swirl across ocean waves, whipping up foamy white froth,” explains Hood. “HIRAD measures microwave radiation naturally emitted by this froth; the stronger the winds, the more froth, and the more microwave radiation.”

Also, HIRAD measures a wider swath of the ocean, meaning that there will be less passes to make, and the information will be acquired quicker. It is small, lightweight and doesn’t use much energy. No moving parts, inexpensive and with the potential to be mounted in a satellite, makes HIRAD a perfect companion to weather predictors.

HIRAD is gaining popularity, and it is hoped it will make its first trial run in the hurricane season of 2009. But funding is vital, for the progression of HRIAD from prototype to working tool. It will need to pass the 2009 trial run, and hopefully with funding, be installed upon a satellite.

“When you fly an instrument on a satellite, it helps everybody on the globe,” she says. “It improves forecasting around the world, for countries that don’t have the ground-based radar and aircraft instruments larger countries have.”

Karen Stephens, HIRAD Project Manager, adds, “In the post-Katrina era, it is especially satisfying to be working on something so immediately beneficial and possibly life-saving.”


Salvage of Den Den begins officially

By Team Mangalorean
Photographs: Rajesh Shetty

MANGALORE, November 15, 2007: The Gulf based Offshore Supply Vessel (OSV) Al-Haml arrived in Mangalore today and proceeded directly to the spot where the Eritrean freighter M.V. Den Den lays on its side since June 23. The arrival of the vessel actually heralds the beginning of the salvage operations.

Al-Haml carries high profile equipments used in such complicated salvage and rescueoperations that included drilling and diving equipments. The OSV is also equipped with three tanks each having 36 cubic metre space which will come handy for emptying fuel tanks of the Den Den. The OSV also carries on board pollution control equipment.

The salvage team which has arrived from Singapore had a closer look at the freighter and has carried out strength determination tests on the hull where it will attach a Hot Tap to ciphon the fuel of the sunken ship. There is yet another support team waiting for helping the onboard team.

The owners of the ship and the government of Eritrea has also given its permission for the salvage which had been secured from the diplomatic channels. The customs has also permitted the retrieval of fuel from the tanks of the sunken ship. The Karnataka State Pollution Control local unit has been monitoring the salvage operation for any spillage of oil that could harm the marine life.


Situation Report by UN OCHA:

I. Situation in Bangladesh

1. Cyclone Sidr (Category IV) hit Bangladesh on the evening of 15 November. The cyclone, originating from a depression over the Bay of Bengal on 11 November, hit offshore islands at 1830 hours and made landfall across the southern coast from Cox's Bazaar toward the Satkhira districts at 2030 hours local time. Heavy rains were experienced throughout the country, including the capital Dhaka. The first area hit by Cyclone Sidr was Hiron Point and part of the mangrove forest Sundarbans in Bagerhat and Dublar Char Island in Barguna. According to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department, Cyclone Sidr had a radius of 500 kilometres with the eye of the storm 74 kilometres wide and wind speeds reaching between 220-240 kilometres per hour. The storm caused extensive damage, in particular in the south-western districts, as it moved north into central Bangladesh and was downgraded to a Category II tropical storm. The weather is currently calm.

2. Official reports indicate that the initial death toll is 2,027 people, with 1,451 injured and 454 missing. These figures are expected to increase significantly as the need assessments are completed and will be reported on 19 November. Reports indicate that over 27 million people from 25 districts were affected by the severe cyclonic storms. The 12 hardest hit districts were Bagerhat, Patuakhali, Barguna, Pirojpur, Barisal, Jhalkhati, Bhola, Mandaripur, Gopalgonj, Shariatpur, Khulna and Satkhira. Many structures have been damaged or destroyed, damage to crops is extensive and roads are damaged or blocked by debris. The cyclone caused severe reduction in power production, resulting in a near countrywide blackout for over 36 hours, further disruptions to telecommunications and water supply.

3. Preliminary assessments indicate that emergency needs should be concentrated on non-food items, food aid, nutrition, water and sanitation, shelter and disease surveillance. The longer term perspective calls for rehabilitation of livelihood, infrastructure, health and educational services and increased shelter capacity.

II. National Response in Bangladesh

4. To date, the Chief Adviser has allocated 100 million taka for relief and house construction in eleven districts. The Deputy Commissioners are procuring and collecting sufficient amount of dry food to respond to the current situation. The Ministry of Food and Disaster Management (MoFDM) has allocated 4,000 metric tonnes of rice, 5,000 tents, 17,000 blankets and 30 million taka as gratuitous relief grants, to date. A special fund was established allocating 350 million taka for housing construction grants. 13,000 bundles of corrugated iron sheets are ready for immediate distribution. The Bangladesh Armed Forces Division deployed several aircrafts and a number of helicopters. Six Bangladesh Navy ships are conducting rescue, evacuation, relief and reconnaissance operations in the worst storm affected areas. Several central control rooms of different GoB agencies at national, district and upazila levels have been active round the clock since the first cyclone warning was issued. 732 medical teams are working in the affected areas.

5. The Government of Bangladesh (GoB) early warning and preparedness systems were activated prior to the cyclone hitting landfall, which had a significant mitigating effect in this emergency. Disaster preparedness measures included the evacuation of approximately 3.2 million people from along the coastline of 15 districts to safe places. Alarms were raised and relief and rescue items were stockpiled.

6. The Government of Bangladesh called an immediate meeting of the Disaster and Emergency Response group (DER) on 15 November, consisting of representatives from the GoB, United Nations, Donors, national and international NGOs. The GoB emphasized that the humanitarian community should coordinate closely with central and local Bangladesh authorities. A follow up meeting was held on 18 November, where many donors pledged support to the GoB. The next DER meeting will be held on 22 November.

III. International Response in Bangladesh

7. The UN Country Team, IFRC, and NGOs, including Save the Children, World Vision International, CARE, Caritas, OXFAM, Islamic Relief, ACT, Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), Muslim Aid, and Plan, provided support to the Government of Bangladesh through extensive emergency response precautions, including mobilizing in-country staff and pre-positioned relief stocks across southern Bangladesh.

8. Under the coordination of the DER, a United Nations team of 12 experts left Dhaka to assist with assessment in affected areas. The United Nations is distributing 208 tonnes of high-energy biscuits to assist an estimated 850,000 cyclone affected people. 240,000 packets of water purifying powder are reaching 48,000 families. Shelter materials (thick polyesters) will also be distributed to 18,000 households whose houses were destroyed by the storms. Partners will start distribution of dry food (flattened rice and molasses) to 70,000 affected families from 18 November. Medical officers are available to assist the GoB response, including four to assist in coordinating the central response. USD 50,000 was made available for water and supplies and transportation. More relief will be made available following initial determination of needs.

9. The United Nations Disaster Management Team (UN DMT) met on 16 November to coordinate response and assessment and take early stock of the situation. A mission from UN OCHA Regional Office arrived in Dhaka on 17 November to assist with the Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) process and support the UN RC with coordination. UN Heads of Agencies go on mission to the worst affected districts to assess the extent of damage on 19 November.

10. IFRC launched a preliminary emergency appeal on 16 November for US$ 3.5 million in cash, kind, or services to support the Bangladesh Red Crescent Society to assist 235,000 beneficiaries for a period of 9 months.

11. Several donors, including the European Union, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland United Kingdom, United States of America, have pledged to assist the affected population of Bangladesh. More detailed information is expected to be provided on 19 November.
Number of Deads: 2027 persons Number of Injured persons: 1451 persons Number of Evacuated persons: 650 000 persons Infected: persons


Monday, November 19, 2007

2008 Severe Storm Conference's and Situation Updates

National Hurricane Conference
March 31-April 4
The Rosen Centre Hotel
Orlando, FL

The primary goal of the National Hurricane Conference is to improve hurricane preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation in order to save lives and property in the United States and the tropical islands of the Caribbean and Pacific.

In addition, the conference serves as a national forum for federal, state and local officials to exchange ideas and recommend new policies to improve Emergency Management.

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The 2008 National Storm Conference
Saturday, March 8, 2008
The Colleyville Center
Colleyville, Texas

he TESSA National Storm Conference is free and open to the public. Registration is not required, but arrive early, seating is limited to 500.

Directions, Lodging and Suggested Dining for the 2008 Conference
Conference Sponsorship and Vendor Opportunities

ARLINGTON, Texas -The Texas Severe Storms Association (TESSA) and the National Weather Service (NWS) will collaborate again for the National Storm Conference on March 8, 2008 at the Colleyville Center in Colleyville, Texas. Speakers will deliver presentations on severe weather safety, storm spotter training and in-depth discussions on supercell and tornado meteorology.

National Severe Weather Workshop 2008
March 6-8 2008
Norman, Oklahoma

A national forum for academia, emergency management, media, and NOAA to exchange information and techniques for public safety during severe weather.

2008 National Storm Chaser's Convention
The Radisson Southeast
February 15-17 2007
Denver, CO

You just got ot go to this one!


BANGLADESH - More than 2,000 people are now known to have died after powerful cyclone Sidr ripped through southern and central Bangladesh. The toll was expected to rise. Rescuers are trying to reach hundreds of thousands of survivors but debris and floods are hampering their efforts. Cyclone Sidr destroyed or damaged tens of thousands of homes, brought down power lines and wiped out vital crops. In many areas, 95% of rice which was awaiting harvest has been destroyed, and shrimp farms and other crops simply washed away. A huge relief operation is under way but the true extent of the destruction is only now emerging. "We are expecting that thousands of dead bodies may be found within a few days. We have not been able to collect information about casualties in many remote and impassable places due to the disruption to communications."

This comes only a few months after floods devastated the northern part of the country. The storm triggered 5m (16ft) tidal surges in many of the affected districts. Rivers flowing into the Bay of Bengal were said to be swollen and rising. At least 150 fishing boats in the Bay of Bengal have failed to return to shore. Hundreds of fishermen are feared missing. Authorities have been struggling to get food, medicine, tents and blankets to the affected areas. Cyclone Sidr is


Bangladesh said Saturday it feared thousands of corpses were littering its southern coast. The army and relief workers were battling to reach the worst-hit districts, where most villages have been flattened. Every one of Jhalokati’s 554 villages has been badly hit. Bangladesh’s vast Sunderbans mangrove forest, home to the endangered Royal Bengal tiger, bore the brunt of the deadly cyclone that smashed into the country, likely killing wildlife. “The winds have twisted the mangrove by flattening thousands of trees."

The strong tidal surge could have killed wildlife. “I am concerned that thousands of deers and some tigers would have been washed into the rivers by the surge and might have died.”


SAN FRANCISCO - The most recent information about the clean up is as follows:

Total personnel employed: 1,069
Total gallons discharged: 58,000
Total gallons of oil recovered to date: approximately 16,419
Total gallons evaporated: approximately 4,060
Total birds captured: 1,023
Total dead birds: 1,255
Shoreline cleanup teams: 17
Shoreline assessment teams: 6
Feet of boom laid out: 18,250
Number of contracted aircraft: 1


Friday, November 16, 2007

Combat Weathermen

Combat Weathermen

From Air Force News Service

by Chief Master Sgt. Gary Emery

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Slashing through Burmese jungles with Maj. Gen. Orde Wingate’s Chindits; hunkering down far above the DMZ in North Vietnam; infiltrating into Northern Iraq to ensure the success of a thousand-man airborne jump -- not the average day at the office for most weather forecasters.

But those missions and many more have been business as usual since 1942 for the Air Force special operations weather teams assigned of the 10th Combat Weather Squadron here.

The battle-trained meteorologists of special operations weather have been at the tip of the spear for more than 60 years. They have deploying with other special operators from every branch of the armed forces. They provide combatant commanders with the weather data and analysis they need to plan and execute missions at the tactical, operational and strategic levels of war.

Elite members of the Air Force Battlefield Airman program, special operations weathermen receive specialized training far beyond that of other meteorologists, squadron director of operations Maj. Don Shannon said.

“Our guys have first gone through the normal weather training and served in an operational weather squadron before they can volunteer for SOWT,” he said.

Major Shannon said, “We typically work with special operations forces from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, but because of the unique capability we provide, we also work with special operations teams from the other services. Because of the types of individuals we team with, we undergo much of the specialized training they do so we can keep up with them in the field.”

Weather team members are jump-qualified and may hold ratings as military freefall parachutists, air assault specialists, Rangers, combat diver qualifications and more, the major said.

Some team members have received specialized training in military snow skiing, snowshoeing and avalanche forecasting to better align with their SOF counterparts’ mission, he said.

“We know that when we put out a forecast, someone is going to use it downrange,” said Capt. Don Garrett, the squadron’s assistant director of operations. “We provide the real-time, eyes-on, ground truth about conditions that can critically impact the mission.

“That’s why this is a total volunteer outfit,” he said. “We’re all willing to give it one hundred percent every day.”

Major Shannon agrees the people are what make the weather teams unique.

“These people have great attitudes. They’re tough guys who get it done no matter how rough it gets,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of us, so we all know each other and know how to work as a team.”

In fact, there are very few SOWT operators in the Department of Defense. They are currently listed on the Global Military Force Policy low-density, high-demand asset list.

There are roughly 100 SOWT operators in the Air Force, including 20 to 25 officers, Major Shannon said. Most are with the Hurlburt squadron. But others serve with AFSOC special tactics units in the United States and overseas, he said.

A “typical” SOWT mission was like that performed by Staff Sgt. Dave Mack. He infiltrated into Iraq with an Army special forces operational detachment alpha team during the early stages of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Tasked with collecting weather data, the team endured sandstorms that buried them in their sleeping bags.

They survived 12 missile attacks, one which destroyed their humvee, and endured almost continuous small-arms attack. At one point, Sergeant Mack provided 36 continuous hours of weather observations so aircraft could evacuate seriously wounded Soldiers from Baghdad. He also performed security and weapons details with the other team members.

“You get so much satisfaction from this mission,” Major Shannon said. “Everyone works together and you affect the mission at every stage, from planning to execution to redeployment.”

Staff Sgt. Jody Ball, a four-year veteran of special operations weather, agrees.

“The combination of the people and the mission is what makes this job so great,” he said. “I work with Rangers, (Army) special forces, (pararescue jumpers), combat controllers -- it’s an elite group.

“It’s much more than you can get working in a regular weather station,” he said. “It’s not your standard workday.”

Update on the Cosco Busan Incident
From Holland & Knight

San Francisco – oil spill update

The US Coast Guard issued a press release updating the status of the response effort for the recent oil spill in San Francisco Bay. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a press release stating that they have sent a team to San Francisco to investigate the accident. Meanwhile, Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) issued a press release stating that the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has scheduled a hearing on November 19 to examine the causes of and response to the oil spill. (11/13/07).


San Francisco – update re oil spill response

The US Coast Guard issued a press release providing an update on the response to the recent oil spill. A second press release states that a new USCG representative to the Unified Command has been appointed so that the Commander of USCG Sector San Francisco can return to his regular duties. The local press is reporting that the crew of the ship involved in the accident is refusing to talk with NTSB investigators. This is not surprising in that the US Attorney has opened a criminal investigation. (11/14/07).

Update on PEMEX Rig Collision

Pemex Says Leaking Oil Well Catches Fire
by Anthony Harrup
Dow Jones Newswires 11/14/2007

Mexican state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, said Tuesday that fire broke out at an offshore well where workers are attempting to plug a leak caused last month by a rig colliding with another platform.

In a press release, Pemex said the fire at the KAB-101 well was caused by a spark as workers were attempting to stop the leak by injecting mud into the well.

Pemex said no injuries were caused by the incident, and that four firefighting vessels were working to control the blaze.

On Oct. 23, an oil rig crashed into an offshore platform in the oil-rich Campeche Sound amid stormy weather. The accident killed 21 workers and ruptured the well.