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- Vulnerability/ Natural Hazards

1. After analyzing the Nathan World Map of Natural Hazards, I learned that my hometown of Scranton, PA can face natural disasters such as winter storms (zone 1), heavy rain, hail storms (zone 2), wildfires (zone 1), tornados (zone 2), and even tropical cyclones. I never realized that my area is subject to tropical cyclones, since I live no where near the tropics. I had difficulty determining the zones of the map, so I am not sure if I correctly determined them. The reason why I am not sure is because the scale of this map is too large. Also, the colors and the faintness of boundaries of the states and countries make it difficult to examine disasters of a specific region. Thus, I don’t think that this map is well suited to describe hazards of certain areas. I feel that this map is more suited to determining disasters of larger scaled regions as opposed to specific towns.

2. The event that I chose to look into from the RSOE and EDIS dealt with a wildfire in Palau. On March 27, 2016 at 3:30 AM, there was a huge forest fire on Mt. Apo (cause is unknown) that almost spread all the way to Lake Venado. As a result, many climbers were evacuated and officials prohibited campfires, fireworks, burning items, and cooking with wood, logs, and charcoal. Although the risk for wildfires in Scranton is low since the climate isn’t as dry as other places, there still could be a possible outbreak. Scranton and Northeastern PA contains many forests, and many people who live in these areas burn wood/other debris, have bonfires, use fireworks, etc. As for scale, the event impacted more than 100 hectares (about 250 acres). This is pretty small considering Scranton is 16,281.6 acres. Where the fire broke out in Davao del Sur, is about 2,160 acres; thus, in terms of scale, the impacts are much greater where it occurred. However, the impact of this fire would impact Scranton more since we are not used to dealing with wildfires; therefore, many houses would be burned and lives could be lost. Different people in Scranton would have different levels of vulnerability due to where they live. Those who live in wooded areas would be at a higher risk of being impacted than those who live in Downtown Scranton. Human factors that can fret vulnerability/ disproportionate the impact of such disaster would be carelessness when dealing with fire. For example, many people from Scranton love to have bonfires, and they carelessly throw items such as plastic into the fire. On the 4th of July, people here tend to blow off fire works by trees. I think the best way to reduce vulnerability of wildfires in Scranton is to educate people when it comes to any form of fire. Laws preventing wood burning, bonfires, and firecracker use in certain areas can also help.

3. When I searched for natural disasters in Scranton, PA, not many sources came up. According to USA.com, Scranton is at a very low risk for an earthquake (USA.com, 2010). Scranton is at 0 risk for volcanoes, and 77.46 risk for tornados (USA.com, 2010). This made me recall my mother telling me once about how there was actually a tornado near my area, not too long ago. Other extreme events in my area involve thunderstorms, floods, blizzards, cold, hail, winter storms/ heavy snow, drought, and strong winds (USA.com, 2010). From my experience, I recall last winter’s extremely cold weather that was 15 degrees below zero. Also, Elysburg (about an hour away from Scranton), has experienced a lot of floods due to the Susquehanna river overflowing damaging many homes and NEPA’s beloved Knoebel’s Amusemant Park.

Source:

  1.  “Scranton, PA Natural Disasters and Weather Extremes.” – USA.com™. Accessed March 31, 2016. http://www.usa.com/scranton-pa-natural-disasters-extremes.htm.

4. Based off of Module 8, I think that it is important that consider human factors, more specifically governance and education. I think that education is most important in prevention of anything. If people are educated about the causes of natural disasters and what to do if one occurs, then so many lives can be prevented since they know what step to take when it comes to comes to pre-event preparedness, emergency response, and post-event recovery and reconstruction. Large organizations such as FEMA give money to help prevent and aid disasters. However, I believe it is ultimately the public who must collectively act the most because there are more of us than there are of organizations, and we are the ones who live daily in vulnerable areas (such as Scranton). As for what I can do, I can make educate people on what disasters can occur in Scranton and what to do in those situations through social media, flyers, or simple conversations. By doing so, more and more people will be educated and will spread the knowledge throughout the population of Scranton.

Natural Hazards – T Smith

  1. My town is located in west central Pennsylvania. According to the Nathan Word map of Natural Hazards, my location is prone to the following natural hazards: Zone 0 for earthquakes, increase of heavy rain (climate impact), zone 4 for hailstorms, zone 1 for extratropical storms, zone 3 for tornadoes, zone 1 for wildfires, warmer weather during El NIÑO, a temperature increase of .3-.5 degrees Celsius per decade, and 0-15 percent increase of precipitation per decade. Overall, my area is at risk mostly for hailstorms, tornadoes, and temperature increases. While the Nathan map document does display useful information, it is hard to pinpoint specific locations due to the area covered on the maps. Some zoning changes occur close to the area I’m in, but one can also decipher that right at the median level of the two categories.
  2. I chose a bio-hazard in Wisconsin, the Elizabethkingia bacteria infecting and killing humans. My hometown can most certainly experience this disaster. We are a very rural town, when many in the community hunt and fish regularly. The bacteria is typically found in water/reservoirs, soil, plant life, and even fish and frogs – all areas where hunters and fishermen frequent. I would say we are definitely at a higher risk than urban areas. Now, most people infected have been older and carry another diagnosis. My town is becoming a population that is dominantly older. Scale wise, 17 have died and 44 are confirmed infected. Our town’s population is roughly 6,000. So it would be approximately 1% of our population that is infected. It doesn’t specify an exact location that this happening in, just statewide. The impact, if it happened locally, we would be greater as we are more vulnerable. There is a large older population here, as well as lesser amounts of technology. Our hospital is very small, with little staff and not many capabilities. We could build resilience before this disaster could strike. Being prepared with a plan of action may help to contain it. With the high potential for it occurring, pre-event preparedness would be beneficial. Hospitals could prep, or even make a plan of transferring patients to a facility that is better equipped for treatment.
  3. According to USA.com (n.d) there have been 39 tornadoes in my area since 1950, and also places PA at a higher risk for tornadoes. It may not seem like a high number but many are occurring within recent history. I have pictures of funnel clouds that passed over my farm for the last three consecutive years. While many of the funnel clouds don’t actually touch down, it is something that has become a common event. We plan for tornadoes now. The hail and wind has also been increasing with summer storms. Damage from hail and wind has also been on the rise. City-data.com (n.d.) shows the average rainfall amount is higher than the national average. This is the same finding as the Nathan map document. Flooding happens almost every year, from minor roadways to completely shutting down main arteries in and out of town.

Punxsutawney, PA Natural Disasters and Weather Extremes. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.usa.com/punxsutawney-pa-natural-disasters-extremes.htm

Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.city-data.com/city/Punxsutawney-Pennsylvania.html

  1. To reduce the vulnerability to natural hazards in my town, we can utilize pre-event preparedness. In regards to the tornadic activity, meteorologists are constantly improving their forecasts, and have even developed a TOR:CON index. The emergency response can also be improved. We rely on volunteer first responders. When the weather is forecast to be bad, it could be beneficial to have volunteers begin to plan who will respond to what are if calls are made. I can prepare by securing all outdoor items, or bring items into the basement. I already have a bag packed with necessities and first aid that is located in my go to spot for when a tornado warning is issued. While flooding can’t happen when my house is located, having a plan of backup routes should one of the main roads be closed.