Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hurricane Dean

OK, Brendan Loy is freaking me out. Actually, I had a feeling that last summer wouldn't be a big deal, storm-wise, and talking to a girlfriend this summer I said, "I don't know why, I just have a bad feeling about this summer. Like we're going to have a bunch of storms." She said the same thing and we both bought flood insurance even though neither of us live in a flood plain. We'll see if that was a wise choice or not. Brendan is concerned:

With regard to the official forecast track, and the age-old “line” vs. “cone” debate, Dr. Jeff Masters says that at least in the short term (i.e., the next 48 hours), we’re safe focusing more on the “line” and less on the “cone”:

The cone of uncertainty Friday morning, when Dean is expected to pass through the islands, covers a wide stretch of ocean from Grenada to Antigua. We can expect that this uncertainty cone is too wide, since the steering currents are relatively stable right now and Dean is well-formed. This puts the islands of Martinique, Dominica, and Guadaloupe in the bulls-eye.

As an aside, I’d love to see the NHC start tailoring its “track cones,” or “cones of uncertainty” — whatever you want to call them — to the actual level of uncertainty for each individual storm, instead of relying purely on historical error rates. There is no question that some forecasts can be relied upon with more confidence than others, depending on computer-model agreement, steering-pattern stability, and so forth. Yet judging from the NHC’s graphics, you’d think that all track projections are created equal. Moreover, sometimes the NHC will choose to place the official forecast track in the left or right portion of the “guidance envelope”; when they do this, shouldn’t the uncertainty cone be fatter on one side than on the other? Yet it never is. I’d love to see this change.

Sounds like it would be a helpful change. Also, I think I'm going to go look at generators again. And I'm going to post these recommendations from Glenn about disaster survival. He notes:

Most people along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts haven't made hurricane survival plans, despite pleas from emergency officials for residents to prepare before the season starts, according to a poll released Thursday. . . .

One forecaster said odds were high that a major hurricane would hit the U.S. this year.

Nevertheless, 53% of people surveyed in 18 Atlantic and Gulf Coast states say they don't feel that they are vulnerable to a hurricane, or to related tornadoes and flooding, according to the Mason-Dixon poll. Eighty-eight percent said they had not taken any steps to fortify their homes.
Of all his links, my favorite is Popular Mechanic's list (I have some work to do myself):
Basic Emergency Kit
Gather these into a portable, free-standing container such as a large plastic tub:
• Charged cellphone (and a 12-volt cellphone charger for your car).
• Three-day quantity of food, 1 gal. of water per person per day, disposable cups, plates and eating utensils, and a means to cook, such as a camp stove with sufficient fuel.
• Sanitary supplies for three days.
• Nonscented liquid chlorine bleach.
• Rain gear.
• Work gloves.
• Multitool.
• First-aid kit and first-aid manual.
• Battery-powered flashlight.
• Battery-powered radio.
• Spare batteries.
• Light sticks.
• Filtration mask (NIOSH-N95).
• Plastic sheeting.
• Duct tape.
• Whistle.
• Can opener.
• Garbage bags and ties.
• String or twine.
• Paper pad and pencil.
• Printout of key phone numbers.
• Five-day supply of prescription medications
And for your car:
Keep in Your Vehicle
Keep these in a plastic tub:
•Road flares, reflectors.
• 12-volt cellphone charger.
• 50 ft. of nylon cord.
• Heavy-duty plastic tarp.
• Jumper cables.
• One-day supply of food, such as energy bars, and water.
• Flashlight.
• Sand for traction in snow and on ice.
• Folding entrenching shovel.
• Emergency blanket in cold climates.
• 3 gal. of potable water in hot climates.
• Multitool.
• First-aid kit.
• Fire extinguisher.
• Tire inflator/sealant.
• Duct tape.
I bought the hand-crank radio, a chain saw, a first aid kit, a bowie knife, a multitool, rope and some other things. One thing to check: some of our food was so old. I found this out the hard way cooking with some evaporated milk. It does go bad, even in a can.

Finally, the really big concern for Houstonians is our wet ground from all the early summer rain. The current tropical storms passing through making everything wetter and then having a hurricane dump on the wet ground and pull up loose trees, etc. That would be bad, to say the least.


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