Monday, June 30, 2008

Maine's set the bar high for flood warning

Maine's set the bar high for flood warning

Emergency management officials in New Brunswick are considering adopting a method similar to the one used in Maine to better warn residents when a major flood is coming.

Dick Isabelle, the province's executive director of emergency services, said that he favours implementing a system where local authorities are actively engaged in alerting the public when flooding is imminent.

Faced with an ugly forecast for torrential rain and a river already near its crest, disaster officials in Aroostook County, Maine, went door to door on the night of April 29 to make sure people knew they were in danger.

Across the border in northwestern New Brunswick, however, many residents were caught off guard. Although the province issued a flood warning on April 29 for the entire length of the St. John River, it wasn't taken seriously enough by people in areas that are not prone to being submerged.

In northern Maine, to make sure nobody was unaware, police set up blockades and vans rode down streets issuing warnings over their public address systems.

"I think we have to evaluate the effectiveness of our entire system, and not be afraid to stand up and say, 'Let's see what we can do better. How can we give people the proper warning they deserve?' " Isabelle said. "My guess is that the type of system we will encourage is one where we work more closely with local authorities.

"I would say that this is an area we see as having to explore."

As of last week, nearly 500 flood victims had sought government aid in northern New Brunswick, and 1,358 people were seeking assistance overall. Approximately 130 people remained displaced and were in temporary housing.

Under fire from the Opposition in the legislature last week, Premier Shawn Graham described the province's emergency system as having worked well, but said a review would be undertaken.

The province takes out advertisements to warn residents of flooding and updates water and weather conditions on its River Watch website, and usually that is enough, the premier said.

"It is important to note that this was a severe flood; we had not seen a flood of this magnitude and severity for many generations,'' Graham said. "In fact, areas were flooded that had never flooded in the past.

"As I have always stated, a complete review of this initiative will be undertaken, and we will be looking to make improvements where we can. But the reality is that the system is working.

"The severity of the flood was not anticipated. We cannot control Mother Nature. This is an important notice for all New Brunswickers today: When emergency management issues flood warnings, precautions should be taken."

Opposition Leader Jeannot Volpé and Percy Mockler, the member of the Legislative Assembly for Restigouche-La-Vallee, argued that the warning system failed to adequately alert residents in northern communities. They also complained that communication was poor between relief agencies, and that people calling for help were transferred from one agency to another and another.

"We all know what is happening now,'' Volpé said. "It is a reaction. What I am asking is, what should be done so emergency management officials can advise people when a flood is coming? How is it that people can save some of their assets by knowing ahead of time? Not the next day, or three days after, because then it is too late.

"People have lost a lot of money and a lot of assets. They were not ready because nobody told them what was coming down."

Marty Klinkenberg is a contributing editor of the Telegraph-Journal. He can be reached at


Are you prepared for natural disaster


Montana doesn't encounter many natural disasters. Earthquakes are rare, and Great Falls is on the fringe of the fault zone, although Kalispell, Helena and other cities closer to the Rocky Mountains face more danger from a quake. Big Sky Country avoids hurricanes, monsoon rains and tsunamis.Far from Tornado Alley, Montana gets an occasional twister, but it usually just throws a bunch of dirt around in this sparsely populated state.

Great Falls is one of the country's windier cities, and so are other towns along the Rocky Mountain Front, and places like Livingston. The wind may rage, but it usually doesn't kill anyone.Montana gets cold at times, and below-zero blizzards put people in danger in winter.

The state also gets freak snowstorms, like the recent one that knocked out power to much of Great Falls and the surrounding area. About 100 rural homes lost power for days.

Losing power for several hours was not a major disaster for most people, but it showed how unprepared some people are for trouble, said Judy Powell, a national Red Cross reservist who has assisted at more than a dozen disasters across the continent.

During the recent power outage, some people did not even know how to open their garage door manually, Powell pointed out. She thinks it's better to be prepared.(By the way, your garage door opener usually has a red plastic handle attached to a rope. You pull on the handle to disconnect your garage door from the electric opener. Then you can open the garage door by hand.)

Anyway, one of Montana's few natural disasters, aside from fires, is flooding."It's that time of year for floods," said Karl Christian, conservation district specialist for the state Department of Natural Resources and Conservation in Helena. Parts of Iowa, Wisconsin and other states in the Midwest certainly have gotten nailed this month, as shown by horrifying videos of houses floating down swollen rivers.

Central Montana is wetter than usual. Great Falls has enjoyed 10 inches of moisture through mid-June, already two-thirds of the rain and snow we normally get for a whole year. Fifteen inches is average.

Melting mountain snow will add to the already high Missouri River through Great Falls. Temperatures in the 80s would hasten the melt. Then all it would take is some heavy rain to send water over the river banks. Complacency is the number one thing we can't do," Powell said Sunday.

Sure, our parched landscape has sucked up most of the generous moisture so far. And flood worries will soon fade away. But Powell argues it's better to be ready. She lives next to the Missouri River south of the city, and she has reserved her brother's four-horse trailer to move all of her belongings out during an emergency.

Once in Kentucky, Powell remembers visiting with a family whose treasured family photographs had been sitting in flood waters for two days. The photos could not be salvaged. "I came home and put all of my pictures in a plastic tote and keep them on a high closet shelf," Powell said.

Think about where your family photos are and where they would be safest in your house. A leaky roof can do the same thing as a flood. Flood events set for this week

Even if we escape bad floods in 2008, we can still reminisce about some horrendous floods that have befouled Great Falls and the surrounding area over the years. During the 20th century, 1908, 1953, 1964 and 1975 were soggy, especially for west Great Falls and outlying areas. Broken dams also didn't help in some of those years.

To commemorate the pluck and vigor of people who encountered deadly floods in Montana over the years, the Missouri River Conservation Districts Council will hold a Missouri River Flood Photo Round-Up in Fort Benton and Great Falls this week. A third event will be July 14 in Helena.

If you have any neat photos of past Missouri River flooding, come to the Ag Museum in Fort Benton on Thursday, or Friday to the Mountain West Bank, 12 3rd St. N.W., from 4 to 8 p.m. both days. The Helena event is July 14 at the USDA Building, 790 Colleen Street. Local conservation district representatives will be on hand, and refreshments will be served.

At these gatherings, someone will scan your photos for you, and hear what you have to say about the flood of 1964, or, if you're 110 years old, the flood of 1908. You may want to trade stories with other flood survivors. Call Christian at 406-444-3022 or Vicki Marquis at 406-231-5818 for more information.

State works to retain hurricane relief funds

By Ana Radelat
Gannett News Service

WASHINGTON — Gov. Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana congressional delegation are working to bridge a dispute between the House and Senate over billions in hurricane recovery money for Louisiana and Mississippi.

The House plans to vote today on a $184 billion emergency spending bill that would pay for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and provide $5.8 billion to repair New Orleans' levees.

But the House bill contains no money for other reconstruction efforts the Senate approved in a similar bill last month. That includes $70 million for housing vouchers for low-income Louisianians at risk of homelessness and $157 million to help the state's hospitals cover expenses related to Hurricane Katrina.

The Senate bill also would provide $50 million for upgrades in the state's criminal justice system and reduce — from $1.5 billion to $1.3 billion — the state's share of the cost of rebuilding levees. Many of the Katrina-related provisions were sponsored by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-New Orleans.

The House rejected those provisions — and about $10 billion in other local projects — to avoid a presidential veto or, failing that, win enough GOP support to override it.

President Bush had approved the money to rebuild the levees, but objected to much of the other domestic spending the Senate had included in the bill.

Complicating the chances of the state getting the extra money, the House agreed to provide billions of dollars in emergency floor relief for the Midwest.

Jindal was to meet Wednesday afternoon with retired Marine Maj. Gen. Doug O'Dell, Bush's recently appointed coordinator of Gulf Coast rebuilding, and other administration officials to lobby them on the hurricane recovery funding.

In addition, the Louisiana congressional delegation hopes to meet with House leaders early next week on the issue.

Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-Quitman, said it would be better to hand the president a final bill that includes some hurricane spending but limits other domestic spending and doesn't restrict how the war is conducted.

"We would like to see language that doesn't have poison pills," Alexander said.

The governor also said there may not be another bill moving in Congress this year that could include the hurricane recovery money, which he called "critical to Louisiana and time-sensitive."

Sen. David Vitter, R-Metairie, urged House leaders to accept the Senate's provisions because a final bill is unlikely to win White House approval.

"The president is going to veto it anyway," Vitter said.

If the House approves a pared-down bill Thursday, it will go to the Senate for consideration. But the Senate is likely to reject it in favor of the bill it approved last month, creating new delays in approving money to conduct the war.

"It looks, unfortunately, like this will pingpong down the way some more," Vitter said.

New book spells out secrets to surviving disaster

THE UNTHINKABLE: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why by Amanda Ripley, Crown, $24.95

"We all have ideas about what we might do in a [public] emergency," writes Amanda Ripley in "The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why." "But we are probably wrong."

Here's the likelihood. If you aren't immobilized by profound lethargy - many are - you'll first try to convince yourself that what is happening isn't. Even when it's blazingly obvious that you have to get out, you may feel a strong urge to stay put.

If you're very lucky, someone may break through that denial by shouting a directive, "We have to move!" What you do next will be really stupid. You'll look for your handbag or root for whatever in your desk drawer. If you aren't dead by the time you find it, carrying it will complicate your escape.

Chances are you will be fleeing with a crowd and someone has taken command. But even as you move to safety, if not before, your body will betray you. Your vision could narrow dramatically. You might go temporarily blind. You will forget how to do simple things. Unbuckling a seat belt, for instance, may seem so terribly complex.

Ripley, who reported on disasters and now covers homeland security for Time, became fascinated with all facets of human response to disaster, and "The Unthinkable" is the valuable product of her determined pursuit of answers.

Physiology (the amygdala, specifically) plays a role, as does evolution and genetics. Your intuitive response can help, but if it's your sole guide, it can lead you badly astray. It's a matter not only of knowing yourself but knowing your disaster - the one you're most vulnerable to. As an expert points out, "Disasters have personalities." Some strike more debilitating fear than others. Learning the facts can override that at a critical juncture.

Training is the most essential tool of all. Ripley's pressing point is that all our sophisticated warning systems and emergency procedures are designed to meet the needs of professionals. Civilians are considered a grade below, not to be trusted, though in many, if not most disasters, waiting to be saved can be deadly.

"We were the first responders," says a 9/11 survivor who escaped the World Trade Center.

We are a country built on self-sufficiency, Ripley writes, but we refuse to give ordinary people the information that, when delivered in factual and nonthreatening terms, can save their lives. Perhaps it's time for the rest of us, the potential victims, to signal a Code Red. We need to know. Now.

Our disaster personalities are quite different from our everyday selves.

Milling about gathering information can be useful in some disasters. Just don't prolong it.

Do not, repeat do not, give in to the impulse to gather luggage, handbags or anything. Just get out.

Disaster induces a paralytic lethargy in many people. Sometimes this works to save you. Usually not. Fight it.

Of all passengers involved in serious airplane accidents between 1983 and 2000, 56% survived. But you have seconds, sometimes 90, sometimes less, to get out.

Read the safety diagram on airplanes. Wherever you are, know your exits. Count the rows on a plane. In a fire, always stop, drop and roll.

Fire kills more Americans annually than all other disasters combined. In a hotel, take the stairway down to the ground once to become familiar with the crossovers and other surprises.

Worry about probability. What kind of disaster is most likely to strike your area. Hurricane? Flood? Terrorist attack? Learn what to do in that situation. Train yourself. Then you will be response ready.

Don't be silly about sharks. Worldwide, six humans are fatally attacked annually, while human beings kill between 26 million and 73 million sharks. We're way ahead on this one, folks.


More problems for Riverdance

weather conditions and shortening summer tides are hampering workmen's efforts to dismantle the wrecked Riverdance ferry.

Bosses at the ship, which is being dismantled on the Anchorsholme coastline, say conditions were so poor last weekend when gushing winds battered the Fylde coast that work on the vessel had to be abandoned on Sunday.

Officers have also warned progress has been slowed by the fact time to work between the tides has been halved as the demolition job heads into the summer.

Donald McDonald, who is overseeing the operation for the Maritime and Coastguard agency, said: "With the high winds on Sunday it would have been dangerous to put people in the situation.

"We don't normally have this kind of weather at this time of year."

GAO Issues Report on Loss of Coast Guard Patrol Boats

U.S. Government Accountability Office's just-issued report; COAST GUARD: Strategies for Mitigating the Loss of Patrol Boats Are Achieving Results in the Near Term, But They Come at a Cost and Longer Term Sustainability Is Unknown (GAO-08-660).

The GAO accomplished this report for the Senate Commerce Committee, Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard. The report provides some background on the Coast Guard's "bridging strategy" to upgrade aging patrol boats from 110 feet to 123 feet (to include a number of upgrades and stern-launch boat ramp) as part of its Deepwater program. After the Coast Guard upgraded 8 of these boats, the hulls developed hull deformities and other problems and these 123 foot boats were pulled from service.

Most of the report discusses the Coast Guard's strategies for dealing with the loss of these boats and its impact on District 7 (waters off Florida, and some adjoining states) where all of them were based. One of the main Coast Guard homeland security missions in this district is the interdiction of migrants. The Coast Guard strategies to replace operational hours in District 7 included: double-crewing existing patrol boats, deploying patrol boats to District 7 from adjacent districts, using Navy patrol boats, increasing operational hours of other patrol boats, and revising boat maintenance programs. While these strategies have been successful in raising patrol boat operational hours in District 7, they have also raised certain costs and diverted some missions in adjacent districts. For example, adjacent districts are doing less enforcement of marine fisheries and less maintenance of aids-to-navigation. This fits into a broader theme of GAO work that demonstrates that the Coast Guard is having difficulty meeting all of its mission requirements (particularly non-homeland security missions) within the current level of resources. The Coast Guard will have to maintain these increased costs (both in dollar expenses and mission opportunity costs) as it awaits the deployment of new smaller less capable 87 foot patrol boats, and a new generation of boats known as Fast Response Cutters.

This briefing comes courtesy of Stephen L. Caldwell / Director, Maritime Security Issues / Homeland Security and Justice Team / U.S. Government Accountability Office / (202) 512-9610. Click HERE to read the full report.

Waterspouts seen over Lake Erie

Published: June 19. 2008 11:53AM

Shipping firm to sue Philippine weather agency for mishap

Manila, June 27 (Xinhua) The owner of a Philippine ferry that sank in the devastating Typhoon Fengshen with more than 800 people on board said Friday he would sue the country’s weather agency for not giving timely information about the typhoon. According to Philippine TV network GMA News, shipping company Sulpicio Lines, which owned the sunken ship MV Princess of the Stars, said it would charge the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) next week for failing to update the ship’s crew about the movement of Typhoon Fengshen.

At least 70 passengers were confirmed killed when the MV Princess of the Stars sank off Sibuyan Island, 300 km south of Manila. More than 740 people are still missing and feared dead, while 48 have survived the accident - the worst in the past two decades.

Sulpicio Lines’ lawyer Arthur Lim said the shipping company will charge Pagasa with gross incompetence and negligence, saying that the ferry could have averted the tragedy had Pagasa issued an additional warning on the typhoon’s movement.

Lim said the ship’s route from Manila to Cebu was not completely reflected in the Pagasa bulletin they received before sailing.

At the Board of Marine Inquiry investigation earlier Friday, Nestor Ponteres, Sulpicio’s port captain in Cebu, claimed that the company was informed six hours late by Pagasa regarding typhoon Fengshen’s changing course.

Ponteres also claimed he was in constant communication with the ferry’s captain, Florencio Marimon Sr, before the ship sank. Marimon is still missing.

Ponteres added that there were alternate routes that the ship could have taken had the warning been relayed earlier.

But Pagasa director Prisco Nilo said that they always make sure to release weather updates to the public even though predicting the behavior of a typhoon cannot always be precise.

“Anywhere you go, the warnings and the bulletins are updated a number of times in a day, usually four times a day taking into consideration that (weather) forecasting is not an exact science,” Nilo said, adding that shipping companies also have the responsibility to closely monitor the weather condition to ensure its vessels’ safety.

Sulpicio Lines had earlier blamed the Philippine Coast Guard for the tragedy, saying Wednesday that it was the Coast Guard’s task to plot routes for vessels during inclement weather.

The Board of Marine Inquiry, however, said the 1998 memorandum circular on which Sulpicio Lines based its arguments had been replaced with an updated June 2007 memorandum circular that places responsibility on the ship’s owner and captain.


Friday, June 27, 2008

The Exploits of Roz Savage

I was not going to blog about Roz Savage again.

My opinions of her venture are well known to her, her main sponsor, the United States Coast Guard and the NOAA SAR-SAT Office.

However, after having her latest blog called to my attention, noting the PS by Rita Savage (her mother), I once again will weigh in.

While I (and most other marine professionals) understand the need to challenge the sea for whatever cause one wishes to undertake, the one thing that all professional mariners have.. is a great understanding of, and the utmost respect for, the power of Mother Nature, the Sea and their own limitations -- things that, apparently, Ms Savage either plainly disregards, doesn't respect, or simply doesn't understand.

Ignorance.. and ego.. are not bliss at sea.

All blue water mariners have seen both the beauty of the sea, as well as its awesome power when the sea turns ugly. All blue water mariners prepare both mentally and physically for their voyages and safety is always their utmost priority.

When people like Roz Savage decide to take on a challenge, team work, common sense and safety, all need to be prime directives. This is true especially when one is rowing a 22 foot row boat across an ocean or two. Unfortunately, none of these things are happening with Ms Savage's Pacific voyage.

There is no doubt that anyone who rows across the Atlantic or Pacific can be a inspiration to us all. However in Ms Savage's case, the book to be written should more appropriately reflect on how not to row across the Pacific. Should you take the time to read through her blog, you might also see that she's undermined her own voyage with her haste. Leaving unprepared is not inspiration -- not when her voyage could turn into desperation.

Roz Savage is well known to the United States Coast Guard. So well known that they now have a very special track on her, since they already rescued her last year. The distress call at that time was not made by her.. would probably never have been made by her, as she refused to even acknowledge the fact that she was in trouble. Instead, it was made by someone who read her blog and understood the problems she was having.

Now... in her latest blog , Day 32: Welcome To My World Part 4 - Food. There is a PS by Rita Savage her mom --

"PS from Rita. I have had quite a number of people keen to help Roz in her present situation without a working water maker. Enquiries are being made to yachtsmen to see if anyone would be willing to take her some water about two weeks from now. I do hope that we get a response. However, we need to stress that the situation is not so critical that it needs intervention. Roz does have a professional support team who are constantly in touch with her and each other. Please do not be tempted to take any unilateral action as you would create further problems for Roz and restrict the support team's options. Roz also asks that no large ships should be asked to respond to her inquiry about a re-supply of water. Please use the contact details on this website if you have any suggestions that might be helpful. Thank you for your interest in Roz's venture."

This is a sad commentary. As I noted once before there is no professional support team guiding Ms. Savage. It is more a very loose participation from some of her sponsors who have donated equipment and services to her. There is no chase boat ready to go at moments' notice to render assistance. There is no medical team in place to watch Ms. Savage as she rows. Savage's blog is full of entries that any medical professional could/would/should be concerned with.

The problems that Ms. Savage is now experiencing are not new and instead of being worked out, or replacements sent to her, these problems have gotten worse. No professional support team would ever have allowed these problems to escalate to the stage they have. That is especially true now, as there is a request for a yacht in a couple of weeks to render assistance for fresh water. Yet, Savage does not want a ship to stop.

A few weeks ago Savage reached out to another professional mariner for the same assistance when she was stranded 160nm off the coast of Point Conception, California and her water-maker was first having problems. One has to ask, where was this professional team of hers that is in constant communications with her, back then? Why allow the water filtration unit to come to a screeching halt now, when it could easily have been replaced back then, when she was close to the California coast?

The fact that she has no professional support is obvious. So, again, there is a request for assistance -- in a couple of weeks from now. Well, looks like Savage just might be looking at a potential developing Tropical Depression in the next week or so. If one of these systems develop and intercepts her course, Ms. Savage will have all the water she can handle.

East Pacific Graphical Tropical Weather Outlook

Click for AtlanticClick for Central Pacific Place your mouse cursor over areas of interest for more information

The fact is that Savage is not keeping safety as her prime directive and I believe that this loose nit team of hers is not being kept abreast of all the details. Savage has a history of not being honest. For example.... Not wanting the United States Coast Guard to have the 15 digit hexadecminal code to her EPIRB. Which to the best of my knowledge is not properly deployed in case of an emergency.

This EPIRB was also outdated as far as contact information. It was another professional mariner who was able to obtain the hexcode, after being told not to give it to the United States Coast Guard by one of Ms. Savages so-called professional support team members, that the contact data was updated. This so0called team member also agreed with Savage not to cut loose her tangled sea anchor in sea states of 8 and 9, because it would be the equivalent to polluting the sea and having a chase boat would also present "political Green problems" for Ms. Savage.

If this is the sign of a professional support team member and/or her team as a whole then stupidity reins free. The warning by Rita Savage, "Please do not be tempted to take any unilateral action as you would create further problems for Roz and restrict the support team's options". Is nothing more than bull-sheet-rock. "Would create further problems for Roz and restrict the support team's options"? Really? You mean like launch a rescue operations ending her daughters voyage? Like the last time? Restrict the support team options? What physcobabble is that? If statements like these do not raise red flags then someone is color blind.

No Rita this unilateral action was done before and your daughter was rescued, even though she refused to see the danger herself and it appears that Roz took offense to those who know better and have concerns for her safety. So if your daughter does not care for her own safety nor the safety of her potential rescuers and wants to row into the after life, its on your request.....

I am now totally convinced that this venture by Savage has very little to do with saving the ocean's or the enviroment and has more to do with her personal fame and fortune at the expense of the environment she claims to want to save........

Fair Winds Roz Savage.... the other type of winds will not be any fun....... by the way, don't whistle while you row.......


Launch of the Ocean Surface Topography Mission/Jason 2 satellite

The NASA-French space agency Ocean Surface Topography Mission/Jason 2 satellite launched aboard a Delta II rocket from Space Launch Complex 2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., at 12:46 a.m. PDT. Photo credit: United Launch Alliance Full image and caption

PASADENA, Calif. -- A new NASA-French space agency oceanography satellite launched today from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., on a globe-circling voyage to continue charting sea level, a vital indicator of global climate change. The mission will return a vast amount of new data that will improve weather, climate and ocean forecasts.

With a thunderous roar and fiery glow, the Ocean Surface Topography Mission/Jason 2 satellite arced through the blackness of an early central coastal California morning at 12:46 a.m. PDT, climbing into space atop a Delta II rocket. Fifty-five minutes later, OSTM/Jason 2 separated from the rocket's second stage, and then unfurled its twin sets of solar arrays. Ground controllers successfully acquired the spacecraft's signals. Initial telemetry reports show it to be in excellent health.

"Sea-level measurements from space have come of age," said Michael Freilich, director of the Earth Science Division in NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. "Precision measurements from this mission will improve our knowledge of global and regional sea-level changes and enable more accurate weather, ocean and climate forecasts."

Measurements of sea-surface height, or ocean surface topography, reveal the speed and direction of ocean currents and tell scientists how much of the sun's energy is stored by the ocean. Combining ocean current and heat storage data is key to understanding global climate variations. OSTM/Jason 2's expected lifetime of at least three years will extend into the next decade the continuous record of these data started in 1992 by NASA and the French space agency Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, or CNES, with the TOPEX/Poseidon mission. The data collection was continued by the two agencies on Jason 1 in 2001.

separation of spacecraft from launch vehicle

The OSTM/Jason-2 spacecraft separates from the Delta II rocket's second stage, as seen on NASA TV.

Larger view
The mission culminates more than three decades of research by NASA and CNES in this field. This expertise will be passed on to the world's weather and environmental forecasting agencies, which will be responsible for collecting the data. The involvement of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT) as mission partners on OSTM/Jason 2 helps establish this proven research capability as a valuable tool for use in everyday applications.

OSTM/Jason 2's five primary instruments are improved versions of those flying on Jason 1. These technological advances will allow scientists to monitor conditions in ocean coastal regions -- home to about half of Earth's population. Compared with Jason 1 measurements, OSTM/Jason 2 will have substantially increased accuracy and provide data to within 25 kilometers (15 miles) of coastlines, nearly 50 percent closer to shore than in the past. Such improvements will be welcome news for all those making their living on the sea, from sailors and fishermen to workers in offshore industries. NOAA will use the improved data to better predict hurricane intensity, which is directly affected by the amount of heat stored in the upper ocean.

OSTM/Jason 2 entered orbit about 10 to 15 kilometers (6 to 9 miles) below Jason 1. The new spacecraft will gradually use its thrusters to raise itself into the same 1,336-kilometer (830-mile) orbital altitude as Jason 1 and position itself to follow Jason 1's ground track, orbiting about 60 seconds behind Jason 1. The two spacecraft will fly in formation, making nearly simultaneous measurements for about six months to allow scientists to precisely calibrate OSTM/Jason 2's instruments.

Once cross-calibration is complete, Jason 1 will alter course, adjusting its orbit so that its ground tracks fall midway between those of OSTM/Jason 2. Together, the two spacecraft will double global data coverage. This tandem mission will improve our knowledge of tides in coastal and shallow seas and internal tides in the open ocean, while improving our understanding of ocean currents and eddies.

CNES is providing the OSTM/Jason 2 spacecraft. NASA and CNES jointly are providing the primary payload instruments. NASA's Launch Services Program at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida was responsible for launch management and countdown operations for the Delta II. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington.

To learn more about OSTM/Jason 2, visit: .

FEMA chief to resign after hurricane season
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Thursday, April 03, 2008

ORLANDO — This will be R. David Paulison's last hurricane season as head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, he told reporters Wednesday.

But Paulison isn't leaving anytime soon, he said during the National Hurricane Conference in Orlando. He said he plans to stick around at least until the season ends Nov. 30, and if possible will remain until President Bush departs the White House on Jan. 20.

"The only two people who can make me leave are my wife and the president," said Paulison, a former Miami-Dade County fire chief who took FEMA's helm following the agency's disastrously slow response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. "Right now, I have no intention to leave."

Paulison and his team may be best remembered for beginning to rescue FEMA's reputation from the air of incompetence that surrounded it after Katrina, Florida emergency management chief Craig Fugate said.

"They took something that this country had absolutely no confidence in, the public had no confidence in, and they started bringing it back," Fugate said. "Dave leaves FEMA obviously better than he found it, when he chooses to leave."

Paulison had held various federal emergency-response posts for four years when he was tapped to replace then-FEMA Administrator Michael Brown, whose handling of Katrina had earned him the much-mocked presidential compliment "heck of a job."

Paulison has a lifetime's experience managing crises, and he recruited other state and local emergency responders to prominent posts in FEMA, Fugate said. In contrast, Brown was a former commissioner of the International Arabian Horse Association and had little experience handling emergencies before coming to FEMA.

Manhattan, Illinois Tornado

Waterspout spotted on the North Carolina Outer Banks

There were two waterspout sightings this afternoon on the Outer Banks, according to the National Weather Service.

The reports – one near the Wright Memorial Bridge and another near milepost 5 in Kitty Hawk – were likely the same spout, according to meteorologist Hal Austin, who works out of the service’s Morehead City office.

“They could capsize a boat,” Austin said of the danger posed by waterspouts, which appear as tornadoes over the water.

Austin said weather conditions in northeastern North Carolina are expected to be nicer after this evening, becoming hot and dry for the remainder of the week.


New distress beacons mandatory
Minister's Office
25 Jun. 2008

Elite new distress beacons will be made mandatory to help search and rescue operations save lives on the seas, Ports and Waterways Minister Joe Tripodi said today.

Mr Tripodi said new laws come into effect on July 1 that require all vessels eight metres or longer to be fitted with a new 406MHz digital distress beacon, also known as an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB).

“With the new digital beacons, rescue services can be alerted within seconds of your location, your vessel details and emergency contacts,” Mr Tripodi said.

“The old analogue system takes up to 90 minutes just to transmit a signal and in some cases it was 5 hours before rescue services were alerted.

“The new system can determine the location of a vessel in distress within a 5km radius compared to a 20km radius under the analogue system.

“Accuracy is increased to within 120metres if the beacon is fitted with a GPS.

“406 beacons are the direction of the future. They will help keep boaters safe on our waterways.”

From February 1, 2009, the analogue 121.5MHz signal will no longer be picked up by the international satellite system.

To comply with the new requirement, 406 MHz beacons must also be registered with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and carry a registration sticker.

“Each 406 MHz beacon – registered to an individual person and their craft - carries a unique identification code, transmitted when the beacon is activated,” Mr Tripodi said.

“The unique code provides vital information about the registered boat and its owner – ensuring a faster and more effective search and rescue response appropriate to the vessel size. The analogue beacon provided only a position to rescuers.

One hundred and forty one distress beacons were activated between January and March this year.

One hundred and eight of those signals were inadvertent, malicious or the source could not be located, which wastes precious rescue resources.

In the 1998 Sydney Hobart Yacht Race, six sailors died, 55 people were rescued, five vessels sank and 66 boats retired from the race when multiple storms merged and hurricane force winds and waves descended on the fleet.

“Most the yachts were fitted with 121 beacons. If this new technology was available it could have helped with the rescue response,” Mr Tripodi said.

“The advances in technology are outstanding and boaters should take advantage of this,” Mr Tripodi said, “While the changes become law for larger vessels, recreational boaters should also consider making the switch.”

Operators of commercial vessels (Class A, B or C) working in offshore waters must also make the switch to 406 MHz distress beacons under these new rules.

“Boaters must switch to using 406 MHz distress beacons ahead of February next year for safety’s sake.”

Skippers of vessels 8m or larger are required by law to carry a distress beacon – as well as other safety equipment such as a combination of distress flares - when operating two nautical miles or more from the coast.

It is also recommended skippers of smaller vessels heading offshore also carry a distress beacon.

“As an additional safety measure, any skipper going offshore should use their marine radio to alert the volunteer marine radio network with details of the expected journey, and then log off on return,” Mr Tripodi said.

New beacon requirements are the result of an amendment to the Boating (Safety Equipment) Regulation – NSW, under the Maritime Services Act.

Mr Tripodi said NSW Maritime Boating Officers randomly check safety equipment, including distress beacons on vessels. Last year, more than 41,000 checks were conducted on NSW waters.

(Robin's Note: The Aussies are having their problems with the change over to the 406. Aussie law states that any boat sailing over 3 miles offshore, and all boats nornally travel futher than that just to get past the Great Barrier Reef, must have a EPIRB on board. While the Aussies seem to have this under control. There is also a requirement that anyone traveling in the Outback must also have a PLB. Now that change over to the 406 seems to be slow in coming and what I am told stalled due to Aussie politics....)

Phillippine Shipping is a Martiime Disaster

ONE BRIGHT clear afternoon in 1986, the ship M.V. Doña Josefina sailed from Isabel, Leyte carrying more than 200 passengers. Fifteen minutes later, the ship inexplicably started to list, and, to the horror of the passengers, sink.

The cause of the tragedy: the ship's cargo officer stored too much cargo in the ship's stern, or rear. The fatal imbalance led to the death of 150 people.

One December evening in 1987, a tanker filled with gasoline, oil and other combustible products floated perilously near a ship overloaded with 4,000 passengers. The lookout was missing from the tanker's deck. Minutes later, a collision occurred, and then explosions. The result was the Doña Paz tragedy.

Culled from reports of the Philippine Coast Guard, these major maritime disasters underscore how dangerously ill-trained many of the country's seamen are in steering through major waterways.

The lack of competent seamen, the dilapidated state of many vessels, and the absence of minimal safety navigational aids are the main causes of tragedies in Philippine seas.

These problems continue year after year because of a regulatory environment that keeps passenger and cargo rates artificially low and gives little concern to safety standards.

As government moves to free rates and routes, the shipping industry expects safety standards to improve. But still, many are stressing the need for a vigilant regulator that will ensure minimum standards are met. Many fear that greedy ship owners may take the opportunity to charge more without improving service or safety.

The shipping industry is the most frequently used inter-island transportation of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos. Third class passage on a domestic liner costs less than a quarter of the cheapest airfare, making ships the only affordable means of transport for many.

More than 80 percent of maritime accidents are due to human error committed by ship officers, according to PCG Commodore Carlos Agustin.

Whether by misreading the ship's radar or failing to issue evacuation orders, ship's officers have caused accidents and the loss of lives.

Poorly trained seamen seep through the system because of a testing and registration system that is rife with corruption.

For years, the shipping industry expressed skepticism over the large percentage of students-80 to 90 percent-who passed marine engineer and seamen exams administered by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

Last year, their suspicions were indirectly confirmed. After the PRC computerized the testing process in July 1992, the number of examinees who passed plunged to barely 20 percent. "This is probably the best thing that happened to the shipping industry," according to Capt. Victor Basco, former Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) administrator and today, a shipping company official.

The low rate of passing reflects on the country's shipping schools. A Norwegian study noted many schools are substandard and lack crucial equipment. And if there are good schools, such as the Philippine Merchant Marine School, almost 100 percent of its graduates choose to work abroad.

The reason: Overseas ships pay their crew as much as 500 percent more than domestic vessels, according to Capt. Herby Escutin of the Maritime Safety Office.

Industry sources estimate that the highest captain's pay in the domestic liner industry is about P20,000 a month. For smaller liners, it can be as low as P6,000. The crew's salary is much lower. Given such pay scales, only few of the competent mariners are enticed to work locally.

But when companies pay their crews well, safety records invariably look up. Basco cites the record of a company that hauls oil products for Shell Philippines. It pays its captain an unheard of sum P35,000 monthly, and charges its clients accordingly. He says the company, so far, has had a sterling safety record.

Hiring competent crew and paying well is just one part of the story. Ship owners also need to enforce more bridge discipline among its crew officers to avoid accidents.

"They shouldn't be singing, entertaining women and playing the guitar while on bridge watch," says Agustin. "The shipping companies are very, very remiss in bridge discipline and organization."

The seaworthiness of vessels is another issue that affects safety at sea. The average age of vessels in this country is between 20 and 27 years old.

Local shipping companies are unable to buy new ships because of the costs involved. One of the most recent acquisitions of William Lines this year was a second hand, 20-year-old vessel from Japan. The cost: $13.8 million or about P300 million.

In itself, age does not necessarily mean that a ship is unsafe for as long as it complies with certain maintenance standards, says Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) administrator Paciencio Balbon, Jr. But few vessels in the country can afford to do so.

Filipino safety experts dream of requiring all vessels to be classed by reputable international and local classification societies to ensure seaworthiness, but government officials doubt whether this is feasible.

"We would if we could," says Balbon. "But if we did that, probably two-thirds of the ships would not sail."

Similarly, Agustin asks: "Can we really afford to impose strict safety rules? I don't think we can. If we do that, we will stop the operation of almost all ships. If we stop their operations, the industry will be filled with colorum (illegal) vessels."

Balbon says, "The real culprit here is economics." He explains that little investments have been made by ship owners in hiring the best crew and buying the best ships and maintaining them because passenger and cargo rates have remained so low.

"Even if you give them brand new ships, if they don't earn enough money to maintain them, these ships will deteriorate in five years," he says.

Unattractive returns also appears to be behind the perennial problem of overloading and poor service in the industry.

Overloading is a major safety issue mainly because ships are required to have a number of life rafts and life jackets that correspond exactly to the official passenger and crew capacity of the ship.

But a U.S. Agency for International Development study noted that shipping companies try to compensate for the low rates set by government by overloading with more passengers than allowed.

Third class passage from Manila to Cebu costs about P403 per person. This includes meals, which passengers say consists of scraps of tasteless viands and rice shoveled from large vats.

To make more money, some shipping companies have been known to hold back the sale of tickets during peak season, leading passengers to resort to scalpers, Marina officials say.

But passengers too have been known to be impervious to dangers of overloading. "It is very hard to regulate where there are many violators," says Agustin. In many cases, he says, the Coast Guard inspectors are insulted by angry passengers and threatened by police chiefs and town mayors when they try to prevent an overloaded ship from sailing.

Balbon says that government's moves to deregulate rates, seek cheap financing for shipping companies and help the industry obtain tax incentives from Congress can improve the safety outlook in the industry over the long term.

Many stress, however, the necessity of ensuring strict monitoring of safety standards in the face of deregulation.

Beyond the problem of economics, a culture of neglect and indifference to safety appears to be present in many areas of the industry. Shipping executives say some companies skimp on steel during vessel overhaul, replace parts only when they break down, and leave problems uncorrected if they can get away with it.

The USAID briefly considered the idea of recommending that third class passenger rates be raised during the peak season to allow companies to earn more. But the idea was shelved because the consultants thought the ship owners would merely use it as an excuse to increase fares without improving service or safety.

Punitive damages may not exceed compensatory damages

The US Supreme Court reduced the punitive damages that had been assessed against Exxon Shipping Company as a result of the 1989 EXXON VALDEZ oil spill from $2.5 billion to about $500 million. The opinion is lengthy (61 pages) and complex, with one concurring opinion and three opinions concurring in part and dissenting in part. One Justice (Alito) did not participate because he holds Exxon stock. The Court was equally divided on whether maritime law provides for corporate liability for punitive damages based on the acts of managerial agents (in this case, Captain Hazelwood, the master). Thus, the opinion of the Ninth Circuit allowing for such liability is undisturbed. The Court determined that federal law, including the Federal Water Pollution Control Act (FWPCA), as it existed in 1989 did not preempt punitive damage awards in marine pollution cases. This portion of the opinion may well have been decided differently if the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA 90) had been applicable to EXXON VALDEZ spill.

Finally, the Court examined in detail the issue of whether the punitive damage award against Exxon (originally $5 billion) was excessive as a matter of maritime common law. Because there have been so few examples of such awards under maritime law, the Court also looked to land-based law for guidance. While it recognized that punitive damages are aimed at retribution and deterring harmful conduct, it found that the unpredictability of high punitive damage awards is in tension with their function because of the implication of unfairness that an eccentrically high punitive verdict carries.

The Court ruled that a penalty should be reasonably predictable in its severity and should threaten defendants with a fair probability of suffering in like degree for like damage. The Court then examined various methodologies for determining an appropriate level of punitive damages. After discarding several methods as unworkable, the Court ruled that a 1:1 ratio between compensatory damages and the upper limit of punitive damages was appropriate. Since the lower courts had set the compensatory damages in this case at $507.5 million, the Supreme Court ruled that the same amount should be maximum punitive damages award in this case. The case was remanded to the Ninth Circuit for appropriate action consistent with the opinion. Note: In the amicus curiae brief filed by Chet Hooper of this firm on behalf of the International Chamber of Shipping, the Baltic and International Maritime Council, the Chamber of Shipping of America, Teekay Corporation, and the Bahamas Shipowners Association, he contended that general maritime law does not support the award of punitive damages for vicarious liability (an issue on which this Court was unable to reach consensus) and stated that the Court should (as they have done here) establish clear standards for the award of punitive damages in areas of general maritime law not governed by treaties or statutes.

Justice Scalia, joined by Justice Thomas, concurred, but noted that, in his opinion, the Due Process Clause provides no substantive protection against “excessive” or “unreasonable” awards of punitive damages. Justice Stevens concurred with the initial parts of the Court’s opinion, but felt that any limits on punitive damage awards should be left for Congress to decide. Justice Ginsberg filed a separate opinion, concurring with Justice Stevens. Justice Breyer filed a separate opinion largely concurring with the ruling of the Court, but taking the position that an exception to the 1:1 ratio should be allowed in exception circumstances. He did state, though, that the 1:1 ratio was warranted in the Exxon case. The Court has put off until another day any ruling on whether maritime law allows for vicarious liability. Unfortunately, this leaves the federal court courts divided on this important issue. Overall, though, the broad uncertainty that previously existed with regard to punitive damage awards has been clarified. Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, No. 07-219 (June 25, 2008).Marine Safety Investigation Report - FinalIndependent investigation into the cargo hold fire on board the Chinese registered bulk carrier Jin Hui on 25 January 2008.

Marine Safety Investigation Report - Final

Independent investigation into the cargo hold fire on board the Chinese registered bulk carrier Jin Hui on 25 January 2008

At 1230 on 9 February 2008, the Chinese registered bulk carrier Jin Hui berthed in Geelong, Australia. The ship's master had previously informed Australian authorities that there had been a fire in the ship's number three cargo hold. As a result, the emergency services were on standby when the ship arrived in Geelong.

When the number three cargo hold was opened, it was apparent that only two small areas of the cargo (palm kernel expeller) had been affected. These small areas of cargo were still smouldering so they were sprayed with water and then discharged onto the wharf.

At 1530, the local fire authority declared the fire extinguished. The ship's normal cargo discharge was then allowed to begin.

Download complete report [PDF 348 KB]

Messing About In Ships Podcast

Have a wonderful and safe weekend!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Buoy weighing 1,500 pounds is deployed to study rivers, ocean

Buoy weighing 1,500 pounds is deployed to study rivers, ocean

Scientists want to study impact on and of St. Johns and Nassau rivers.

By DREW DIXON, Shorelines

The 1,500-pound buoy, with its cache of instrumentation, is part of a new initiative to measure how the rivers impact water just off North Florida's coast and how the ocean impacts the health of the waterways. The initiative is led by the University of North Florida and the Florida Coastal Ocean Observing System Consortium.

The project is entering new scientific territory, said Pat Welsh, executive director of UNF's Advanced Weather Information Systems Lab and local manager of the project.

"We don't know much about how the rivers impact the ocean," Welsh said. "We have very little data on that historically."

The buoy's instrumentation will track currents, winds and other influences. It doesn't have gear to measure pollutants, but Welsh said he hopes to add that. Eventually the data will be available on an Internet site.

The $200,000 buoy, funded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, was deployed between the Nassau and St. Johns rivers.

The U.S. Coast Guard cutter Maria Bray took the buoy out to a 60-foot depth. The vessel is used to deploy and maintain navigational and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration buoys, said Chief Warrant Officer Richard Hutchinson. But this one is lighter and different.

"It is an unusual buoy because many buoys are bigger than that," Hutchinson said, noting the Maria Bray has carried a 12,000-pound navigational buoy on its deck.

Most buoys are usually moored to a huge block of concrete. UNF's buoy anchor is made of a set of three railroad car wheels.

The buoy deployed Friday is not part of the NOAA buoy network that measures wave data and weather influences, such as one 20 miles off St. Augustine's shore. But some of the data may eventually be linked to the NOAA system, Welsh said.

The UNF project is part of a larger network of buoys that the consortium, which is made up of 18 universities, private nautical companies and other organizations, has and will continue to deploy off Florida's coast. About 40 buoys are being deployed off Florida, said Jyotika Virmani, executive director of the consortium in St. Petersburg. Some have already been moored off Florida's west coast and in the Keys.

The new buoy off Mayport is only funded through the fall. Coordinators may have to retrieve it if there isn't additional funding, Welsh said.

But scientists expect it will be critical to the consortium's buoy network, Virmani said.

"It's the first in that area of Florida, so any information that comes out from that is going to be new information. It's very exciting," she said. "In the Nassau and St. Johns rivers area the river flows out and pushes in some nutrients which helps a red tide situation, which you had in your area last fall. Even if you can understand what the currents are doing, that will help even if it comes back into shore."

It's not clear what information the new buoy project will produce.

"It may take three or four years, but it may be used to predict those types of events, for example, where the nutrients are coming from to cause a bloom," Virmani said. "This is the beginning, so it's hard to see where that's going to end.

Drew Dixon can also be reached at (904) 249-4947, ext. 6313


Tornadoes, Floods, Wildfires and a New Hurricane Season!

After the March tornadoes, I posted a Top Ten List of extremely important things to do after your property is damaged in a disaster. In the next ten postings, I'm going to expand on each of the strategies in the Top Ten List.

Back in March, we here in the metro Atlanta area had an F4 tornado strike the downtown area of Atlanta. That tornado did about $300 million in damages. About a month later, another group of twisters hit between Atlanta and Macon, doing about the same amount of damage.

Now, we're seeing tornadoes all over the middle of the USA, and massive flooding has struck four or five states, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. And don't forget the wildfires charring Southern California.

But...cheer up! We have a long Hurricane Season that began June 1, and goes until the end of November!!

The following is an excerpt from my book, "Insurance Claim Secrets REVEALED!"

The first strategy in the Top Ten List is....SLOW DOWN.

How many times have you heard an insurance company’s radio or television commercial say how fast they settle claims? That really sounds good, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want their claim settled quickly?

But my long experience as an adjuster has been that hastily settled claims are settled far below what they are worth. It’s almost as if the policyholder or claimant becomes willing to give the insurance companies a big discount in return for the speed of getting a settlement check.

Don’t be one of those people who are motivated by a quick settlement check.

I’m not suggesting that you should drag your feet and be uncooperative in the process. You should be very cooperative...but on your own terms, not the insurance company’s terms. I’m saying that if you are in control of the claims process like you should be, it will not usually be speedy.

The process will move along in a businesslike manner, but you must not allow yourself to be rushed into a settlement. Even if the insurance company sends you a check before you’re ready to settle, you’re not required to cash it.

Let’s look at the first 24-48 hours after you have a loss. It really does not matter if your loss is small or large or a jumbo catastrophic disaster. It does not matter if your loss is a property loss…like a hurricane or flood or tornado or fire, or a casualty loss, like an automobile accident. There are some things that you must do to protect yourself, your family and your property. MORE >


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Some of the deadliest civilian maritime disasters in the Philippines:

_Dec. 20, 1987: In the world's worst peacetime shipping disaster, 4,340 people drown when the ferry Dona Paz collides with the tanker MT Victor in the Philippines.

_Oct. 1988: The Dona Marilyn ferry sinks in the central Philippines during a typhoon, killing 250.

_Dec. 1994: A freighter slams the ferry Cebu City in Manila Bay, drowning at least 34 and leaving more than 100 of about 600 passengers missing. Rescuers pluck about 450 people from the sea, many coated in the diesel oil disgorged as the ferry sank.

Dec. 1995: Dozens are killed when the overloaded MV Kimelody Cristy catches fire off Fortune Island, southwest of Manila.

_Feb. 1996: An overcrowded wooden ferry, ML Gretchen, capsizes close to shore of central Negros island, killing 54, including 31 children, and leaving 12 missing.

_Aug. 15, 1997: The King Rogers, a sightseeing boat, sinks after being battered by strong winds and big waves, killing four Hong Kong tourists and 12 Filipinos. About 75 others are reporting missing.

_Sept. 1998: The Princess of the Orient ferry tilts in storm-whipped waters near Batangas province south of Manila, leaving 70 dead and 80 others missing.

_Dec. 1999: An overloaded MV Asia South Korea ferry sinks in the central Philippines, killing at least 51 people, including several Nepalese students. More than 700 others are rescued.

_April 2000: The wooden-hulled Annahada ferry capsizes shortly after leaving southern Jolo Island, killing at least 87 people. Dozens of others are reported missing.

_April 2002: Wind-swept flames engulf a packed inter-island ferry in the central Philippines, killing at least 23 and sparking panic among its 290 passengers and crew, some still waking up at the end of a 12-hour overnight trip. More than 90 are injured and 13 reported missing.

_Feb. 2004: A bomb believed to have been planted by al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf extremists explode aboard the Superferry 14 near Manila Bay, igniting an inferno that kills 116 people in Southeast Asia's second-worst terrorist attack.

_June 21, 2008: The MV Princess of the Stars, a 23,824-ton ferry, capsizes off central Sibuyan Island in a typhoon. Villagers find six bodies, while only four survivors are found in the initial hours of search efforts.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!Lightning Safety Week: June 22-28, 2008

Summer is the peak season for one of the nation's deadliest weather phenomena— lightning. But don't be fooled, lightning strikes year round.

The goal of this Website is to safeguard U.S. residents from lightning.

In the United States, an average of 62 people are killed each year by lightning.

Already in 2008, 8 people have died due to lightning strikes. In 2007, 45 people were struck and killed by lighting in the U.S.; hundreds of others were injured. Of the victims who were killed by lightning:

  • 98% were outside
  • 89% were male
  • 30% were males between the ages of 20-25
  • 25% were standing under a tree
  • 25% occurred on or near the water

The reported number of injuries is likely far lower than the actual total number because many people do not seek help or doctors do not record it as a lightning injury. People struck by lightning suffer from a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms, including memory loss, attention deficits, sleep disorders, numbness, dizziness, stiffness in joints, irritability, fatigue, weakness, muscle spasms, depression, and an inability to sit for long.

Lightning is a serious danger. Through this site we hope you'll learn more about lightning risks and how to protect yourself, your loved ones and your belongings. As a start, get an overview of Lightning Safety or stop by our comprehensive page of handouts, brochures, links and more.

USPLN Lightning Data for the Continuental United States. Data is delayed 30 minutes and represents 2 hour period.

Lightning Strike Map USPLN Lightning Data for CONUS, image, copyright 2008 WDT; data, copyright 2008 WSI Corporation. Used by permission from WSI Corporation. All rights reserved.


Menendez panel will look at U.S. role in global disasters

by The Associated Press
Tuesday June 17, 2008, 5:37 AM

A congressional subcommittee chaired by a New Jersey senator is taking up the politically sensitive question of how the United States can aid disaster victims if their governments reject foreign involvement.

The panel headed by Sen. Robert Menendez, (D-N.J.) will hear from foreign relations experts Tuesday as it weighs issues raised after last month's cyclone in Myanmar, the recent earthquake in China and other disasters.

Myanmar's ruling military junta severely restricted humanitarian aid after the storm there left tens of thousands dead and missing.

National Weather Service Finds Department is TsunamiReady™

June 17, 2008

The Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday recognized the Department's Emergency Management Bureau, along with emergency managers from coastal cities in Orange County, for the achievement of completing the Natonal Weather Service StormReady and TsunamiReady programs. Orange County has become the nation's most populous county to earn the Weather Service honor.

To read the Board of Supervisors staff report on the issue click here.

To see the National Weather Service press release on the county's achievement click

801-524-5692 June 17, 2008

NOAA Recognizes Orange County, Calif., as TsunamiReady™ and StormReady®

Orange County, Calif., has completed NOAA’s National Weather Service StormReady® and TsunamiReady™ programs, better equipping the county to handle severe weather and tsunamis. The Orange County emergency management team fulfilled a rigorous set of warning and evacuation criteria, including the development of a formal hazardous weather plan.

“Orange County is vulnerable to tsunamis and severe weather due to its location on the coast,” said Jim Purpura, meteorologist-in-charge of the weather forecast office in San Diego. “As the second most populous county in the state of California, and the fifth most populous in the United States, the likelihood of the public encountering a tsunami or severe weather is greatly increased. Public awareness and preparedness are essential.”

Orange County now becomes not only the most populous county in the U.S. to achieve TsunamiReady recognition, but also the only county to have every coastal community both StormReady and TsunamiReady. Orange County cities that completed the TsunamiReady program are Dana Point, Huntington Beach, San Clemente, Newport Beach, Seal Beach, and Laguna Beach.

“Orange County was able to achieve this recognition because of the planning partnerships we have within our county along with state and federal agencies like the National Weather Service,” said Orange County emergency manager Donna Boston.

At a ceremony in Orange County today, Purpura will present a recognition letter and TsunamiReady™ and StormReady® road signs to county officials.

To be recognized as TsunamiReady™ and StormReady®, a community must:

• Establish a 24-hour warning point and emergency operations center;
• Have more than one way to receive tsunami and severe weather warnings and forecasts to alert the public;
• Create a system that monitors local weather conditions;
• Promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars; and
• Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises.

Resilience to disasters is everyone's responsibility. Educating yourself and your family on environmental hazards, maintaining a disaster supply kit, and having an emergency plan in place, are all proactive ways you can be better prepared.

The TsunamiReady™ and StormReady® programs are part of NOAA National Weather Service's working partnership with the International Association of Emergency Managers, the National Emergency Management Association, and the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program. The TsunamiReady™ and StormReady® recognitions expire in three years, after which the county will go through a renewal process.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

On the Web:
TsunamiReady™ program:
StormReady® program:

StormReady® and TsunamiReady™ are registered trademarks of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Sent from our friend Sam! Thanks Sam!

Weeks Best

Week's Best: Twister Strikes, More
A huge tornado funnel cloud touches down in Orchard, Iowa, Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 9:04 p.m. The Globe Gazette and Mitchell County Press News reported that Lori Mehmen of Orchard, took the photo from outside her front door. Mehmen said the funnel cloud came near the ground and then went back up into the clouds. The incident caused tree and crop damage, but no human injuries were reported.
(Lori Mehmen/AP Photo)

Here is more video from Iowa storm chasers as they tracked the tornado that hit Parkersburg.


From the Masters Quarters at
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