Module 8, Hazards!

I live in Los Angeles, CA and according to the Nathan World Map, we face a few natural hazards. The most prominent hazard in the area is living in a Zone 4 Earthquake area. Earthquakes happen regularly in Southern California and I have experienced quite a few, although none have been seriously threatening or damaging, the experience can still be scary. The area is also a Zone ¾ wildfire areas. It is very dry in Southern California, especially with recent drought and in the dry season there are frequent wildfires. Fortunately in an El Nino year, like this year, we experience a wetter season and have seen fewer wildfires. I think the Nathan Map has a fair representation of Los Angeles area hazards.


On the RDOE and EDIS map, I chose an event in Puebla, Mexico near Mexico City. On March 31, 2016 there was a volcanic eruption. Mile high Plumes were went up into the air and environmentalists warned of falling ash. Mexico’s National Center for Disaster Prevention raised the environmental alert level to the second degree out of three, meaning nearby residents should be prepared to evacuate.


This phenomenon would not occur in the Los Angeles area because there are not any volcanic region nearby. The nearest active volcanic field is in Northern California so it would take a massive eruption to affect the Southern California area. Volcanic eruptions in Mexico have caused tremors though and there is a lot of earthquake activity. However, the tectonic plates in Southern California Slide past each other instead of the submersive variety seen at eruption sites, therefore there is no risk of magma eruption.


This volcanic region is very near Mexico City, Mexico, which is a large city and could compare to the large population of Los Angeles. The active volcano is one of the world’s most dangerous. A mass evacuation of a large city like that is a big deal and would affect the Los Angeles Metro area in a similar capacity. Luckily, there are more warning signs for volcanic explosions than there are for Massive Earthquakes, so maybe being near a volcanic region is a safer location than living on a slide past earthquake system. If evacuations in such a large metro area were necessary I think that a similar solution to Hurricane Katrina traffic could be considered, where both sides of the highway are used for outbound traffic and incoming traffic is prohibited. This would be the only feasible way of getting such a large metro area out of the danger zone.

Module 8

  • Being from South Bend, I have only experienced thunderstorms and winter storms. I have never experienced an earthquake but according to the Nathan World Map of Natural Hazards my city (South Bend, IN) has an earthquake zone of 0. It has a hailstorm intensity at zone 4, winter storms at zone 1, and a tornado frequency at zone 2, and a hazard of wildfires of zone 1. Thankfully, my city is not affected by El Nino or La Nina. I think that the Nathan World Map is fairly effective for the task of looking at hazards my city faces, except it was difficult to pinpoint exactly where my city was using the map. I think this map accurately shows the types of weather experienced in my area, especially when it comes to hailstorms and winter storms because my city is located on Lake Michigan, thus giving us lake effect snow/weather.
  • Currently, April 1st, in Jurm, Afghanistan there is an earthquake of 4.3 magnitude on the Richter scale and a 3 in the Mercalli scale. My hometown is not located on a fault line and has an earthquake zone of 0 so we do not experience earthquakes at all. A magnitude of 4.3 earthquakes are not very severe. It is felt but causes minor damage. However, if something like this happened in my area, I’m sure it would be very unexpected and cause a lot of talk. However, an earthquake of this magnitude is not very dangerous and would not affect people in my area since it would only slightly shake the ground. My town would be prepared for an earthquake of this size because it does not cause any terrible impact. If it were an earthquake of any other higher magnitude, my city’s structure would not be able to withstand the effects because we do not steel reinforce our buildings.
  • Living in South Bend my entire life, the biggest threat of natural disasters faced are blizzards. Due to the lake effect weather we receive, blizzards are often brutal in my area where we have to close off streets and close businesses early in order to prevent people from driving outside. These blizzards can be considered very harmful due to the risks it causes while driving. There have been instances of injury from car accidents and even death due to poor weather. This has affected many people in the area since it causes businesses to profit less and people to miss work due to the inability to get there.
  • To reduce natural hazards in my city, especially when it comes to winter storms causing blizzards, I believe that we could look forward to newer technology. Recently, I have learned about solar roadways, which melt snow as it falls, decreasing the need for plowing and road salt. The best people to create this would be engineers who could work on this technology so it could be implemented sooner. Though this is in the future, what I can do is spread awareness and have people support this technology, which in the long run saves costs and prevents disaster. Realistically, I could be a more careful driver during dangerous situations to prevent hurting others.

Module 8: Vulnerability Reduction

The Nathan World Map of Natural Hazards helped me identify the natural hazards that my town in northeastern Pennsylvania can face. According to the maps, my area is at risk from tropical cyclones, an increase in heavy rain, hailstorms (up to zone 3), extratropical storms (up to zone 0), tornados (up to zone 3), and wildfires (up to zone 1). The maps in the Nathan map document show a general risk for a specific area and a specific threat. In some of the maps it is hard to identify what category a specific area is in. I do agree with the metrics provided for my area. Living in this area, we can experience crazy weather sometimes. I was actually born during the blizzard of 1993, there was a tornado a few miles away that destroyed car shop a few years back, number of floods, strong storms with damaging winds and hail, and a few small brush fires that lasted a day or two.

The current disaster from the RSOE EDIS is a 90-foot wide sinkhole in Tarpon Springs, Florida. My hometown can experience this same type of disaster. The risk for this type of disaster is higher than other parts of the country. My area is vulnerable the acid in our groundwater being able to dissolve the porous rocks. My area is not as vulnerable as Florida, but they seem to be more common. The scale of this disaster relative to the size of my hometown would be the same. This happened in a mobile home park and displaced about twenty people. My town also has a mobile home park about the same size that is described. The sinkhole opened in an area where there is a higher density of people living and that is why the impact was higher. If it happened in front of my house, the impact would be far less. The severity of this type of disaster on the human population in my hometown depends on where it happens. The population is mixed with older and younger people. If this would happen near a senior living complex, the severity would be high because of the assistance need when trying to evacuate quickly. These type of disasters do not have advance warning and give little time to leave the affected area. Reducing my town’s vulnerability to such a disaster would begin with the inspection of areas looking at water runoff, underground pipes, the types of soil and rocks. Another way to reduce the vulnerability is to have a proper waste water disposal system.

I was able to find a site that compiled natural disasters and weather extremes from 1950 to 2010 and calculated the likelihood of an event. The data says that the chance of an earthquake in Lackawanna County is about the same as the Pennsylvania average and is far lower than the national average. The risk of tornado damage in Lackawanna County is lower than Pennsylvania average and is also lower than the national average. The site also has a chart that shows the number of events that happened. The top three were thunderstorm winds, floods, and hail. I would agree that these events occur the most often and sometimes they can be destructive. Flooding is usually the most impactful because I live in a valley, and effects a widespread of people.  

Lackawanna County Natural Disasters and Weather Extremes. Retrieved April 01, 2016, from

There are many actions that can be done to reduce vulnerability to natural hazards in my town. The first action would be make sure my town and its people are prepared for multiple different types of natural hazards. This can be done by practicing response times, rescue training, making sure people know where to go, and have emergency items before something happens. Emergency responders also need to know what to do when a natural hazard occurs and how to handle it. After the event the area impacted needs to have a concrete plan in place to recover and rebuild in the shortest time possible. I personally can stay alert and know what may happen and know where emergency supplies are. I can also help in a time in need by helping neighbors, family, and other people that may need assistance to safety.

Natural Hazards

This map is very good for identifying whole regions that may have natural hazards, however it is not extremely precise because it is dealing with the whole globe.  This means that it is hard to tell exactly if natural hazards will affect my specific hometown.  There are very few hazards that seem like they have potential to affect Waterford, PA. Wildfires, earthquakes, flooding, and hurricanes are all very unlikely.  We do have potential for severe winter storms and occasional tornadoes.  Also potentially we may have more heavy rain events with climate change.

I located a magnitude 5.7 earthquake in ocean west of Alaska.  My town is not in a location that is vulnerable to earthquakes.  This is because it does not sit anywhere near a fault line like the one near Alaska.  Also, it is not near water so tsunamis are not an issue.  This earthquake is rather remote, so there will not be people affected.  The scale is quite large, so if it happened in my town a whole region would be affected. There would be a large difference in vulnerability in my town depending on income.  There are many trailers and old houses that are in disrepair that would fall apart with a mild quake.  We could limit the damage by having a emergency plan that would keep people safe, but apart from building stronger houses or improving the local economy, not much could be done.

There are some severe snowstorms  and tornadoes that I have heard about from adults that grew up in my area.  These events are serious very rarely, but they have happened. The last big weather event that I have heard of was the tornado in Albion, PA very near Waterford in 1985 killing over 70 people and destroying 1309 homes ( No catastrophic snowstorms were recorded for my area, but close to Erie county, Buffalo had a record storm last year.  7 feet of snow dropped and many motorists were trapped on the roads for days and there were extended power outages ( Both of these events are very close to home and are definitely possible in my area.


There are a few steps that could be taken to protect from natural hazards in my town.  Because the only serious threats are severe snow storms and tornadoes, those are the one that should be prepared for.  First of all, an emergency system could be put in place, this would be a responsibility of local government to identify and notify residents about weather events.  Also, education could take place that will encourage people to have emergency supplies in place that would allow them to survive for a few days without outside help.  This would ensure that people are both aware of developing storms and ready to weather the storm until help can arrive.