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Archive for the ‘Hazardous Weather’ Category

Viewing Earl’s progress

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010

Check out to see a great map featuring Hurricane Earl, but with the ability to view other storms as well.  The maps are pulling in lots of data from many reputable sources (National Hurricane Center, NASA, NOAA, and others) to provide layered maps of weather patterns and major storms in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans as well as the contiguous 48 states (see top menu bar on the site to switch maps).  On the Atlantic map particularly, be sure to click the “ON” buttons for Forecast Models and Clouds in the box in the upper right of the map to enhance the view of Hurricane Earl with additional layers. 

Winter Comes to Charlottesville

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

Snow started falling here in Charlottesville, Virginia, Friday night around 6pm and it has been steadily coming down for the last 15 hours.  The Library is open and we will keep it open throughout the weekend, as the last exam is Monday morning. Below are a four pictures that I took just outside the Library.  (Click on the images to enlarge.)  My guess is that there is at least 15″ of snow on the ground.  I know 15″ of snow is no-big-deal for you folks above the 40th parallel, but it’s big news down here.  Most businesses are closed and shelters are opening up for stranded motorist.  So far, no major power outages.


And the next morning …


You may be asking the question, “Okay, so what does all this have to do with disaster planning?”  The answer is that I learned a number of things that will help us in an actual disaster situation.

1)  I discovered that we can forward our main phone to another library number that is an iPhone.   Therefore, we can answer a call to our main line (and other forwarded lines) from a remote site using the iPhone.

2) By Saturday evening, food was hard to come by. as vendors were unable to make deliveries.  In addition, I noticed that some vending machines weren’t working and others that were asked for correct change only.  Therefore, and this is a lesson that we should all take very seriously, have extra food on hand both at work and at home, and keep plenty of extra change.

3) Students can spread information to their peers a lot quicker than we can get information out.  On Saturday, a rumor was circulating that the Library was going to close early.  I assured a student who asked about the rumor that we would be open until midnight.  He quickly notified the students and the rumor was cut off.

4) Finally, everyone responds to situations differently.  Marty Thompson, director of the Health Sciences Library at the University of Oklahoma, always mentions this as being core knowledge to anyone organizing a response to an emergency.  Know who you can count on and ask them to participate.  Emergency response should be a team effort.

A Mirror Season

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Did you know that there is a “mirror season” for tornadoes in the U. S.?  Because of the temperature changes in the fall in the northern hemisphere, fall weather conditions mirror, to some extent, the conditions that exist in the spring and can spawn “swarms” of tornadoes.  This is an El Nino year, which will affect all of the U.S., but especially the southern and Gulf Coast regions of the U.S. (look out Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas!), bringing a wetter and somewhat cooler winter, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 

Click here to see the NOAA page with lots of enlightening info.  The positive aspects of an El Nino year include increased moisture for drought-stricken areas as well as a dampening effect on hurricane activity during summer and fall, but  an increased chance for “organized” tornado activity in the fall goes hand-in-hand.  See the maps below from the NOAA site mentioned above for their forecast of both temperature and precipitation for the U.S. this winter.  So, especially for those in the southeast tier of U.S. states, brush off those shelter-in-place plans for your institutions’ buildings and think about preparedness at home, just in case!

NOAA Map of El Nino Temps

NOAA Map El Nino Precip

NOAA’s Hurricane Tracker

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has provided those of us in the southeastern to northeastern U. S. with an excellent risk assessment tool for hurricanes.  See their “Historical Hurricane Tracks” page/search engine at; to query their data (from 1878 in the case of Virginia) and see a map showing where major storms have passed through your area.  You can query by several means, including zip code, which produces a very specific and detailed map of the location along with dates and degree of severity of the storms, as well as their names of the ones who were given them.