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.