2. SUNDAY SUN SPECIAL. SEPTEMBER 19, 2010
Stories by DAVID ALLEYNE NO ONE in his or her right mind should wish to experience the devastation which a hurricane can bring, unfortunately these highly dangerous weather systems are a way of life for millions of people in the Caribbean Basin. In this region, hurricanes cause more damage and disturb the lives of more people than any other natural hazard. Such is their destructive potential that in Mexico and Central America, they are second only to earthquakes. Available data suggests that between 1960 to 1989 hurricanes killed 28 000 people, disrupted the lives of six million, and destroyed property worth US$16 billion in the Greater Caribbean Basin. This data does not include details of losses in the United States and US territories. Even though Barbados has had an incredible run of luck, small countries like ours are particularly vulnerable to hurricanes, since they can be affected over their entire land mass and major infrastructure and economic activities may be brought to a crippling halt by a single event. More significant, however, is the record of our efforts at reducing these impacts. Hurricane intensity has not abated, indeed the experts have been warning that we should expect more intensive activity as time goes by. Thus, with population density increasing, the number of deaths would be expected to increase over time. In reality, the casualty rate has decreased. In 1930 three people were affected by hurricanes for each person killed. By 1989 that ratio had shifted to 100 000 to one. The ratio of dollar value of damage to people killed rose from US $5 000 to US $20 000 000 during the same period. The reduced death rates are due largely to improved warning systems and preparation. Some progress has been made toward reducing damage, but that is a more difficult issue. Storm surges of 7.5 metres above By definition a hurricane is a large non- mean sea level are not unknown and a frontal tropical depression or cyclone with surge of over three metres would not be wind speeds in excess of 119 kilometres uncommon for a large hurricane. per hour (kph) â€“ by contrast a tropical Storm surges present the greatest storm has wind speeds of 63 to 119 kph. threat to coastal communities and 90 per The hurricane season of the Greater cent of hurricane fatalities could be due to Caribbean Basin runs from June 1 through drowning caused by the inability of people November 30, and an estimated 84 per to escape these storm surges. cent of activity can occur between August If heavy rain accompanies one of these and September. events and hurricane landfall occurs at a Hurricanes cause damage due to their peak high tide, the consequences can be high winds, heavy rainfall, and storm catastrophic. surge. Winds up to about 162 kilometres The excess water inland could create per hour can cause moderate damage fluvial flooding, and the simultaneous such as blowing out windows. Above that increase in sea level blocks the seaward velocity, winds can cause structural flow of rivers, leaving nowhere for the damage. water to go. Heavy rainfall can cause flooding while putting at risk all structures and Positive advances transportation facilities in valleys, while In the past three decades the ability to triggering landslides. forecast and monitor these storms has Storm surge is a risk factor which increased greatly, something which has persons living or working in coastal areas had a dramatic impact on the saving of need to be cognisant of. lives. By definition it is a rise in sea level due So far has technology advanced that to the impact of on-shore winds and low the time and location of landfall and the barometric pressure. resulting damage can be estimated.
REDUCED DEATH rates have been due largely to improved warning systems and preparation. (RC)
Progress on reducing vulnerability
Among the important structural strategies would be codes to regulate the design and construction of buildings. In public works, the influence would extend to construction of breakwaters, diversion canals, and storm surge gates as well as the planting of trees to serve as windbreaks. All these approaches could be effective in large urban settings where communications are good and institutional arrangements are firmly in place. National emergency preparedness offices usually do not have the resources to function effectively in areas of low population density when faced with widespread catastrophes such as hurricanes.
The United States National Hurricane Centre (NHC) uses this information to issue track prediction and intensity forecasts every six hours for tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic/Caribbean region. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has developed the model â€“ Sea Lake Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) which simulates the effects of a hurricane as it approaches land. This technology helps to determine which areas should be abandoned and plan evacuation routes. At the national level non-structural mitigation strategies could include campaigns to create public awareness of warning services and protective measures, since informed citizens would be more likely to check the condition of their roofs and other structures at risk. Good examples of such campaigns may be found in The Bahamas, Barbados, and Jamaica. Insurance can also be structured to encourage sound land use and structural mitigation actions.
An alternative would be to prepare small areas to respond to emergencies by relying on their own means. The approach followed by the Organisation of American States (OAS) in collaboration with the Pan Caribbean Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Project (PCDPPP) in several Eastern Caribbean countries, involves training local disaster managers and community leaders in urban and rural settlements to organise disaster risk assessment and mitigation initiatives in their communities. A training manual and accompanying video was produced for this purpose and should be available. The focus is on lifeline networks (transportation, communications, water, electricity, and sanitation) and critical facilities (health and education facilities, police and fire stations, community facilities, and emergency shelters). Combining the disaster preparedness efforts of the PCDPPP programme with disaster prevention through the integrated development planning of the OAS clearly illustrates that the interface of disasters and development is possible.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2010. SUNDAY SUN SPECIAL. 3
Technology takes away element of surprise GIVEN the technology which exists today it would be impossible for Barbadians to be caught off guard by the arrival of a hurricane. There is cable and satellite television around the clock, you can access local radio stations at any hour and, of course, there is the Internet. With so many options any of us can check the progress of a tropical system whenever we feel inclined, Contrast our position with the communications situation in this country approximately 55 years ago. Save for the wired network of Barbados Rediffusion Service Ltd – which not every household could afford – there were no locally operated radio stations in this country. Hence any warnings given ahead of Janet would have been limited. Barbadians who experienced the ravages of Hurricane Janet would recall that the system struck the island early in the morning as people were preparing to go about their daily routine. Our housing stock was nothing like what we have today and 20 000 persons were left homeless with a death toll of approximately 38. Stories still live on among Barbadians in the sixties age group and older about the traumatic experiences of running through the winds and rains in search of shelter. Tales of people running crouched over especially when whistling noises filled the air as loose galvanise sheets sailed through the air above their heads were common place in the aftermath. Some Barbadians tried valiantly to save the roofs of their modest wooden homes by tying the rafters down with ropes. Needless to say that strategy did not work for everyone.
With precious little street lighting it would have been traumatic indeed. Now compare that situation to modern Barbados where state-of-the-art communication links including a new Doppler radar installation abound. No one should be caught off guard by the approach of a hurricane today, not when it is possible to go to the web site of an agency like the Florida-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC). We may suffer from other issues like poor drainage in several areas or the quality of some of our existing housing stock, but the lack of adequate warning should be the least of our worries. As we enter the second and traditionally more active half of the annual Atlantic Storm Season all of us should be aware. Every Barbadian household should be prepared for anything. Property insurance coverage should be active and adequate and all necessary repairs to homes should be completed. Stocks of key supplies including nonperishable food, flashlights, portable radios and additional batteries, protective gloves and footwear, containers for drinking water and additional supplies of medication, should be at hand. The approach of emergency response agencies has changed in recent years. No longer do they preach state organised relief but rather self-reliance. Depending on what the hurricane leaves in its wake, it could take from several hours to a couple of days for relief efforts to reach certain areas. Self reliance means that groups of able bodied individuals should have come together by now to indentify their neighbours who would be most vulnerable. There should be an inventory of the
TRACKING a hurricane today is hardly a problem. There are many options available: cable and satellite television around the clock, local radio stations and, of course, the Internet. (FP) number of four by four vehicles which would be the best option of getting around in the aftermath. Residents should have an idea of how many generators and power saws would be available after the storm’s passage as well as who would be expected to come and lend a hand with the clean up. Granted that the State would play its part but depending on the severity of the impact, the response time could be drawn out. Individual expectations during a post hurricane response should be reasonable. If your roof is blown off, the most that relief officials would do in the short-term would be to provide plastic sheeting to protect the contents from further damage. It would be asking too much to see a truck loaded with roof sheets and wood turn up to put a roof back on. Unlike several of our Caribbean neighbours Barbados has not been subject to a direct by a hurricane in almost 55 years. Based on the laws of probability our luck cannot hold out forever.
One of these days a system is going to score a direct hit and unless we drag ourselves out of what has evolved into a sense of significant complacency, the cost of the devastation is bound to be significant. For years, local engineers have been warning that a significant percentage of our housing stock would be vulnerable to the ravages of a severe storm. They have declared that poor construction techniques have been adopted and this is where the much talked about Barbados Building Code would put the brakes on future construction which does not meet required standards. When the roof of a house or other buildings fails during a hurricane or severe tropical storm, the entire structure and contents would be compromised. When roofing systems fail, they usually do so at areas most susceptible to uplift: the perimeter, corners, along seams, and around the location of rooftop
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4. SUNDAY SUN SPECIAL. SEPTEMBER 19, 2010
Strong structures key to survival How well a roof survives an episode could also be influenced by the type of roof cover chosen. accessories, such as vents, satellite Modern options include galvanise dishes, or air conditioning chill water units. sheets, clay tiles and asphalt shingles. Members of the engineering community The key to their performance is linked would no doubt argue that damage by to how securely they are put on in the first wind could be avoided as long as care place. and diligence are applied both during the Remember when porches were an design and placement phases. integral feature of Caribbean house Indeed, most roofing systems if design? properly designed, should withstand highIf you wish to add one to your house, wind events and even hurricane-force bear in mind that porch roofs and situations. overhangs are often subject to high uplift Because home construction is the forces during storms and hurricanes. single largest expense that most It is recommended that they be individuals will undertake in their lifetimes, structurally disconnected from the main availability of funding often dictates what structure, especially at roof level because we do, how we approach the project. a collapse of these elements could trigger Human nature being what it is, some a wider roof failure. people would be inclined to cut corners Keep roof overhangs as short as when the time to put on the roof comes. possible too. When a storm comes, many owners A significant percentage of the houses graphically see where they went wrong. in Barbados are of masonry construction Wind tunnel testing has shown that a because it is generally accepted that these roof with multiple slopes, such as a four are more resilient to wind damage. slope hip roof performs better under wind Attention should always be paid to roof forces compared to the gable roof with construction and how it is attached to the two slopes. main frame. Gable roofs are, however, more A well-constructed masonry structure common because they are cheaper to with firm foundations should normally build. survive floods better than lighter weight An optimal roof slope should be around wood buildings. 30 degrees. To get the most out of your investment, A single slope roof is not masonry walls should be reinforced and recommended because uplift forces exterior walls connected to provide generated during a storm can tear these continuity. off quite easily. Compared to wood, exterior walls in On houses with a double-span roof it is masonry structures are more resistant to important to structurally disconnect the windborne debris and require less two roofs. If not, the collapse of one roof maintenance. might trigger a failure of the other. They are, however, more affected by A hip-roofed home of a cubical form is ground movement – for example considered one of the best configurations subsidence – which can lead to cracks in to use in high wind or hurricane prone the walls. areas. Masonry walls also require a more To reduce wind uplift forces on a roof, significant foundation system due to their an opening in a zone of negative wind greater weight and tend to become more pressure would be helpful in alleviating vulnerable with time due to deterioration wind pressures and creating a balance caused by weather or groundwater. between indoor and outdoor pressures. Good materials make a building Consider roof openings that would stronger against wind loads and flooding. promote natural ventilation under regular Walls can suffer damage during warm conditions while reducing wind windstorms from direct pressure or from pressures on the roof during hurricanes. suction forces. The best locations for such openings The quality of mortar is important since would be close to the ridge, the area of it binds the blocks and prevents them largest depression on the roof. from moving. It is equally important to use Note that some means of protecting the strong masonry units. The use of strong interior from possible rains should be mortar with weak masonry units could adopted in these cases. make the wall more prone to cracking.
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Connections between walls should be strong. In masonry walls, this could be achieved by using beams with horizontal reinforcement at the top of the walls and at floor level to tie the walls together and increase their lateral resistance. Corners should be made stronger by adding reinforcing bars to horizontal mortar joints. The strength of a masonry building can be greatly improved by tying the wall tops together by a continuous ring beam.
This ring must be well connected to the walls, and to the adjacent roof or floor. In tall walls, another beam is recommended at the lintel level. When hollow masonry blocks are used, a beam generally consists of U-shaped concrete blocks with the concrete cast in them. Reinforcing bars in the concrete should have an adequate cover and should provide continuity at the corners. Floor joists and roof trusses should be bolted to the beam as well.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2010. SUNDAY SUN SPECIAL. 5
PUBLIC drinking water supplies are put at risk by storm surge and flooding that often accompany hurricanes or storms. (FP)
Handling aftermath a matter of preparation DEPENDING on how hard your neighbourhood or your entire country is impacted, the return to normal following the passage of a severe storm can take quite sometime. How well you survive this initial post-impact period would be influenced by your level of preparedness at the outset. The stresses and strains of an approaching hurricane or major storm can take a toll on family, friends, and neighbours. There would be worries about the psychological stress on the thousands who would have fled storm-damaged homes to stay with friends and family or seek refuge in crowded shelters. The stresses and strains created by displacement can promote domestic violence, substance abuse, depression,
and even suicide. The days and weeks immediately after a hurricane are likely to be rough. In addition to your physical health, you need to take some time to consider your mental health as well. Some sleeplessness, anxiety, anger, hyperactivity, mild depression, or lethargy would be normal, and could go away with time. Should you feel any of these symptoms acutely, seek counseling. Individual responses to a threatening or potentiallytraumatic event may vary. Emotional reactions may include feelings of fear, grief and depression. Physical and behavioural responses might include nausea,
dizziness and changes in appetite, sleep pattern, as well as withdrawal from daily activities. Responses to trauma can last for weeks to months before people start to feel normal again. Seek medical care if you become injured, feel sick, or experience stress and anxiety. There are many things you can do to cope with such a traumatic episode. Incorporate as many elements of your normal routine into your disaster plans as possible, including activities to allay the children’s fears. Be aware that you would have fewer resources to attend to your day-to-day conflicts, so resolve what you can ahead of time. Turn to family, friends, and important social or religious contacts to set-up support
networks to help deal with the potential stressors. Let your children know that it is okay to feel upset when something bad or scary happens. Even though your normal routine would be interrupted, certain aspects of life must go on. You must do all that you can to secure a supply of food. Immediately after the all-clear is given, go check the supplies of perishable food in your home and determine how much of it is still fit for human consumption. A refrigerator will keep foods cool for about four hours without power if it remains unopened. If the period without electricity is likely to exceed four hours, add block or dry ice to your refrigerator to help preserve your food for a longer period.
Thawed food can usually be eaten if it is still ‘refrigerator cold’, or re-frozen while it still contains ice crystals. Discard any food which has been at temperatures greater than 40 degrees Fahrenheit or four degrees Celsius for two hours or more, or any food that has an unusual odour, colour, or texture. As long as the power is out, keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep food cold for as long as possible. Public drinking water supplies could be at risk if the hurricane or storm is accompanied by storm surge and flooding. Drinking contaminated water may cause illness and you should
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6. SUNDAY SUN SPECIAL. SEPTEMBER 19, 2010
Playing it safe the way to go waters potentially contaminated with human, animal, or toxic wastes. not assume that water in a Should you be injured during hurricane-affected area is safe. clean-up operations, immediately Play it safe and use bottled clean all open wounds and cuts water for eating or drinking. with disinfectant and clean water. If you do not have bottled Apply an antibiotic ointment to water, and you are not sure if your tap water is safe boil all that discourage infection. Should a wound develop you intend to use for domestic redness or swelling, seek purposes, especially drinking. If boiling is not an option, add immediate medical attention given that a tetanus shot might six drops of unscented liquid be required. household bleach per gallon of When the wind and waters water, stir it well, and then let the water stand for 30 minutes before recede, people in areas impacted by a hurricane will continue to you use it. face a number of hazards If you have them, waterpurifying tablets will do the job as associated with clean-up activities. well. Play it safe and wear There is always the possibility protective gear while working. that water may contain fecal material from overflowing sewage systems and agricultural and industrial waste. Although skin contact with floodwater does not, by itself, pose a serious health risk, there is risk of disease from eating or drinking anything contaminated with floodwater. Do not allow children to play in floodwaters and wash their hands frequently especially before meals. Never allow your charges to play with floodwatercontaminated toys that have not been disinfected. The bottom line – always play it safe in post-hurricane conditions because the potential for illness and injury could be extremely high. First aid is extremely JAMAICAN YOUTHS wading in important when exposure to
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of Hurricane Ivan.
Hard hats, goggles, heavy work gloves, and watertight boots with steel toes are recommended. Always wear earplugs or other protective equipment to reduce noise risk from chain saws, backhoes, and other heavy equipment. Prolonged exposure may cause ringing in the ears and subsequent hearing damage. Water and downed or exposed electrical cables can be a bad mix during post hurricane conditions. If water is present anywhere near electrical circuits and electrical equipment, turn off the power at the main breaker on the service panel. For your own safety, do not
floodwaters left in the wake
WATER and downed or exposed electrical cables can be a bad mix during post hurricane conditions. (FP) turn the power back on until the equipment has been inspected by a qualified electrician. Never enter flooded areas nor touch electrical equipment if the ground is wet, unless you are 110 per cent certain that the power is off. If clearing or other work must be performed near a downed power line, contact the utility company first. Extreme caution should be exercised when moving ladders and other equipment near overhead power lines to avoid inadvertent contact. When using gasoline and diesel generators to supply power to a building, switch the main breaker or fuse on the service panel to the ‘off’ position prior to starting the generator. Remember the dangers which can be posed by carbon dioxide as you use generators to deliver power. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colourless gas which can prove fatal if inhaled in sufficient quantity. During the clean-up, operate all gasoline or diesel-powered devices such as pumps, generators, and pressure washers outdoors where ventilation is adequate to ensure
your safety from carbon monoxide poisoning. If heavy lifting is required, precautions should be taken to avoid back injuries associated with manual lifting and handling of bulky debris and building materials. To help prevent injury: Use teams of two or more to move bulky objects. Avoid lifting any material that weighs more than 50 pounds (per person) and use proper automated-assist lifting devices whenever possible. Whatever you do, keep safety foremost in your mind. A study of 2 090 hurricanerelated emergency visits during and after Hurricane Hugo in 1989, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and the North Carolina Department of Environment, Health and Natural Resources, found that 88 per cent of the patients were treated for injuries. Insect stings and wounds accounted for nearly half of the total cases. Nearly one-third of the wounds were caused by chain saws. Motor vehicle accidents and falls were also major causes of hurricane-related injuries.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2010. SUNDAY SUN SPECIAL. 7
Response teams ever ready to act WHEN HURRICANES, floods, mass casualties or earthquakes threaten Barbados, much of the response effort revolves around the efforts of groups of volunteers who readily brave the situation to be part of a coordinated response. By definition volunteers are not paid for their work, but there are times when we owe them more than a mere thank you for their efforts to assist persons in need or supplying information to make for a more coordinated response. Among those selfless heroes are the men and women of the various District Emergency Organisations (DEO) across Barbados. According to the chairman of the St John DEO, John Haynes, its all about commitment. Noting that “we are into the peak of the hurricane season” he said every DEO across Barbados must be ready to respond at a moment’s notice should there be a storm system heading our way. “The volunteer situation as it is now is one which does not wait until the hurricane season is upon us. We do a year round preparation so that by the time the hurricane season gets here we would be able to respond in case of any eventuality.” Truth be told, Haynes said “volunteerism is not an easy task”. Stressing that this was not a phenomenon unique to Barbados, the St John DEO chairman said even service organisations encounter problems finding volunteers. “Anybody who comes to the table to volunteer always asks what is in it for me, as opposed to what can they give to the organisation.” He said people often approach because “they are looking for a piece of change”. Outside of the hurricane season, DEO chairmen try to keep their members sharp and, said Haynes: “We are now looking at comprehensive disaster management – how we manage disasters as opposed to merely responding to them.” He noted that the initiative calls for year round training and the sensitisation of communities. Asked about the level of personnel which would be required to make sure that
a DEO functions effectively, Haynes said: “A complement is based on the population of the area for which you have responsibility.” He noted that the St John DEO has a population of approximately 7 800 persons under its mandate “and therefore what we do is to set up persons within districts of the parish – what could be termed cell groups – and the numbers are determined by how large an area you are looking at”. Haynes also spoke of a recently concluded study of the Martin’s Bay area, which he termed “one of the most vulnerable areas in our parish”. According to him, Martin’s Bay is home to 181 males and 180 females “and in that area we have a chap named William who leads a team of nine other persons, and that complement would be able to look at anything which happens in that area”. He also noted that each member of the team was trained in first aid, five in search and rescue techniques and all have communications training. Haynes said the need for communications during times of crisis means that an alliance exists between the various DEOs and the Barbados Citizens Band Radio Association based at Nursery Drive, St Michael. On the issue of resources to carry out the mandate of a DEO, the St John chairman noted that it was hard to quantify adequate because one would never know beforehand, the scale of any tragedy which might impact an area. Even so, “We always prepare for the overwhelming situation.” According to Haynes, St John was in possession of four chain saws, six hand held radios to supplement what the DEO had before and “there’s a base station too”. The organisation also has first aid kits, rope and other items which would come in handy should a storm strike Barbados. He also disclosed that should an episode occur, the St John DEO could count on the assistance of the agriculture plantations – few that they were, across the parish. “At the moment, our resources include an emergency operations centre equipped with cots, stretchers, computer capability
AT LEFT: Some of the members of Barbados’ roving response teams who are trained to respond at a moment’s notice should a crisis arise. Inset is Randy Chandler of the Barbados Citizens’ Band Association. Below: The volunteers need to be well equipped to do the job. Here are some of the tools of the trade. (Pictures by Rawle Culbard)
and a generator ... so we are pretty much prepared in case anything happens.” Asked how a DEO recruits its membership, Haynes said it was not necessary for one to reside in the particular area or constituency. “To become a member is an easy thing,
once you are in helping others, interested in being a volunteer and in being trained to respond. And you do not have to attend meetings every time we have one. As long as you have training and if something happens, we can call on you – that is the important thing.”
8. SUNDAY SUN SPECIAL. SEPTEMBER 19, 2010
Lest we forget ... Janet
PART of a tree in Belleville, St Michael, uprooted by the raging winds of Hurricane Janet. (FP)
WILL we make it to November 30 without any major alarms? This is the question which we in Barbados should be pondering now that the second and traditionally more active part of the 2010 hurricane season has begun. While it is true that Barbados has enjoyed an incredible run of luck since the passage of Hurricane Janet on September 22, 1955, we should not expect that our luck will hold forever. Even then we were lucky because at its strongest Hurricane Janet was a devastating Category Five system which left significant death and destruction in its wake. It emerged out of what forecasters termed a weak tropical wave moving across the Atlantic in mid-September. By Saturday, September 21, Tropical Storm Janet was positioned east of the Lesser Antilles. Approximately 24 hours later the
VILLAGERS hurry by a house that was tossed onto another one as Janet unleashed her fury on Barbados. (FP)
system had developed into a Category Three hurricane, on a track towards Barbados. The size of the eye was an estimated 37 kilometres wide. Thousands of Barbadians were left homeless after winds estimated at 125 miles per hour battered the island. Grenada and some of the Grenadine islands felt Janet’s fury as well. As it moved through the eastern Caribbean Sea, conditions became unfavourable for continued development, and Janet weakened to a minimal hurricane on September 23. Over the next few days, Janet steadily intensified with better conditions, reaching peak wind speeds of 175 miles per hour or 280 kilometres per hour winds in the western Caribbean Sea – making it one of the most intense Atlantic hurricanes on record. Janet remained a Category Five hurricane, and made landfall near the city
of Chetumal, Mexico on September 28. It brought heavy flooding and wind damage to the Yucatan Peninsula and Belize – known then as British Honduras. As it crossed the peninsula, the hurricane weakened to a 100 mile per hour or 160 kilometres per hour system. Over the Bay of Campeche, it did not have much time to strengthen, making landfall between Vera Cruz and Naulta, Mexico on September 29 as a 110 miles per hour or 175 kilometres per hour storm. Janet dissipated the next day over Mexico. In view of the devastation it caused, the name was retired and Janet holds the distinction of being one of the few storms which caused a hurricane hunter to crash. Given that tropical storms and hurricanes can be exceptionally unpredictable in their behaviour, the best thing that we can do is to be prepared for the worst.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2010. SUNDAY SUN SPECIAL. 9
Klotzbach, Gray sticking to forecast ALARMS for the 2010 Atlantic Storm Season have been few, but renowned researchers Philip Klotzbach and Professor William Gray are standing by the initial prediction that the season should be a very active one. Just a few weeks ago on Wednesday, August 4, their latest assessment suggested there was no reason to back away. “We have maintained our forecast from early June and continue to call for a very active Atlantic basin hurricane season in 2010 due to unusually warm tropical Atlantic sea surface temperatures and the development of La Niña. We anticipate a well above-average probability of United States and Caribbean major hurricane landfall.” Explaining the rationale behind their annual predictions the researchers said a few things should be noted by all about the Atlantic Ocean. According to Klotzbach and Gray: “The Atlantic basin has the largest year-to-year variability of any of the global tropical cyclone basins. People are curious to know how active the upcoming season is likely to be, particularly if you can show hindcast skill improvement over climatology for many past years.” They warned, however, of the challenges of precisely predicting the season’s hurricane activity in early August. “Our early August statistical forecast methodology shows strong evidence over more than 100 past years that significant improvement over climatology can be attained.” Why issue an annual assessment? “We issue these forecasts to satisfy the curiosity of the general public and to bring attention to the hurricane PHILIP KLOTZBACH (FP) problem. There is a general interest in knowing what the odds are for an active or an inactive season. One must remember that our forecasts are based on the premise that those global oceanic and atmospheric conditions which preceded comparatively active or inactive hurricane seasons in the past provide meaningful information about similar trends in future seasons.” The team also cautioned that their research efforts PROF. WILLIAM GRAY (FP) “do not specifically predict where within the Atlantic basin these storms will strike”. According to them, the probability of landfall for any one location along the coast is very low and reflects the fact that, in any one season, most United States coastal areas would not be impacted by a hurricane no matter how active the individual season might be. Even so, Klotzbach and Gray urged all coastal residents to prepare for an active hurricane season every year. They reminded that tropical cyclones could devastate communities even if seasons were classified as inactive or active and it would only require one landfalling system to make it an active season for residents of an area. They also noted that data obtained through July 2010 suggested that the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season would be much more active than the average of the seasons 1950 through 2000. The outlook spoke of 2010 recording about 10 hurricanes – the average being 5.9. An estimated 18 named storms – the average being 9.6 storms – was also mentioned. A possibility of 90 named storm days as against an average of 49.1 was alluded to as well. If Klotzbach and Gray are correct there could be 40 hurricane days well above the average of 24.5 hurricane days.
At least five major hurricanes (Categories 3-4-5) more than double the average could impact the region too, bringing 13 major hurricane days more than double the average of 5.0 hurricane days. “We have witnessed the development of La Niña conditions over the past couple of months, and we believe that a moderate La Niña will be present over the next several months. The trend towards La Niña conditions should lead to reduced levels of vertical wind shear compared with what was witnessed in 2009. Another reason for our continued active seasonal forecast is the persistence of anomalously warm sea surface temperatures in both the tropical and North Atlantic.”
According to the researchers these sea surface temperature anomalies in the tropical Atlantic are at nearrecord warm levels. “These very warm waters are associated with dynamic and thermodynamic factors that are very conducive for an active Atlantic hurricane season. Another factor in the maintenance of our very active season forecast is the anomalously low sea level pressures that have occurred across the tropical Atlantic in June and July.“ Klotzbach and Gray also said they were issuing a hurricane forecast for activity in the Caribbean Basin, based on a statistical prediction scheme that utilises 60 years of past data – a model which was predicting a very active season for the Caribbean.
HURRICANE TRACKING CHART
10. SUNDAY SUN SPECIAL. SEPTEMBER 19, 2010
extinguisher nearby. An alternative is a bucket of sand.
• Fire can be a serious problem. Have a good fire
• Be sure you have plenty of non-perishable food
large water container in the bathroom. Toilets will not flush if water supply is interrupted. Fill bathtubs and sinks.
• Fill clean containers with drinking water. Put
very careful if you use candles and/or portable cooking equipment.
• Keep your flashlight in good working order. Be
POLICE EMERGENCY . . . . . . . . .211 DEPARTMENT OF EMERGENCY DEFENCE FORCE MANAGEMENT . . . . .427-8513 EMERGENCY . . . . . . . . .436-6185 OR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .438-7575 FIRE EMERGENCY . . . . . . . . . . .311 OR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .422-7725 Q.E. HOSPITAL . . . . . . . . . .436-6450 COAST GUARD EMERGENCY – 427-8819
photographs of the damage for Insurance purposes.
• Make a list of storm damage to you home. Take
necessary until power is restored.
• Stay home! Do not drive! • Open freezers and ice chest only when
broken and low-hanging power lines. Notify police or the utility company of the damage.
• Make certain your car is safe – preferably in a
garage. Fill your tank with gasoline.
• Stay away from disaster areas! Stay away from
precautionary steps must be taken after a hurricane passes.
• Keep your radios tuned to a local station. Many
stay inside! The winds will return suddenly – possibly with even greater force.
• Use your telephone for emergency calls only. • If the eye of the storm passes over your house,
side of your house. If a window breaks, go to an interior room to avoid injury from flying glass.
• Keep one window slightly open on the leeward
wires and flooding.
• Stay inside! Leave only if ordered to evacuate. • If you must drive, watch for falling trees, fallen
Do not try to secure your boat in rough water.
• Boats should be hauled out or moored strongly.
electrical pool equipment. Add extra chlorine to avoid contamination.
• Do not drain your swimming pool. Turn off all
securely or taken down. Board up windows.
• Lock garage doors. Awnings should be tied
cans, garden tools, furniture and plants. Remove tree limbs that could fall on your house or power lines.
• Store anything that could blow away: garbage
areas which may be swept by high tides or storm waves. Leave early! Roads to high ground may become impassable hours before the hurricane hits land.
• Stay away from beaches and other low-lying
station for frequent hurricane updates.
• Keep your radio tuned continuously to a local
• Keep your radios tuned to one of the local
stations. Make certain the batteries are fresh in your portable radio.
Forward Speed (mph)
Central Pressure (inches Hg.)
Maximum Wind (mph)
Lon gi (°Wtude )
HOW TO TRACK A HURRICANE
Forward Speed (mph)
Battery-operated radio Functional flashlights Batteries for radio and flashlights Candles and plenty of matches Car tank filled with gasoline Extra ice in freezer Gas for your cooking unit Extra drinking water Tubs and sinks filled with water Fire extinguisher
Pets inside or otherwise protected Loose outside objects stored or secured First aid kit with bandages, adhesive tapes, antiseptics, etc. Extra supply of prescription or emergency medications Tree branches tied or cut TV antenna taken down Plenty well stocked: canned goods, milk, dry cereal , baby food, powdered drinks and lots of EVE products
CHECKLIST FOR A HURRICANE WARNING
When any disaster threatens, THE NATION is your port in the storm. As soon as a hurricane is brewing in our area, you get on-the-scene coverage from THE NATION’s award-winning reporters and photographers. Get all of the story – the whole picture – in THE NATION and SUN.
Always keep your radios tuned to a local station since they give regular & reliable bulletins When a hurricane forms radio stations in Barbados will provide its eye position by latitude and longitude. (For example, latitude 12.5 degrees north and longitude 40.6 degrees west). When the stations broadcast a hurricane advisory, use the chart below to note the pertinent information. Then mark the location of the hurricane on the tracking chart. A Hurricane Watch is posted for Barbados when a hurricane or an incipient hurricane condition poses a possible threat to the island. A Hurricane Watch does not indicate immediate danger. However, safety precautions requiring more than 18 hours to complete, should be started immediately. A Hurricane Warning is issued when forecasters believe the island will suffer hurricane damage. A Hurricane Warning is issued when winds are expected to sustain 74 mph or higher within 24 hours or less. When a Hurricane Warning is issued listen to your radio stations continuously and take all safety precautions. A Tropical Storm Warning is issued for areas not directly affected by the hurricane. A Tropical Storm Warning is issued when possible sustained winds within the range of 39 to 73 mph are expected within 24 hours or less. Your best protection is to stay informed by getting the details from radio bulletins.
HURRICANE PRECAUTIONS Lat itu (°N) de
SEPTEMBER 19, 2010. SUNDAY SUN SPECIAL. 11
12. SUNDAY SUN SPECIAL. SEPTEMBER 19, 2010
IMAGINE the chaos and panic which would ensue if a key facility like the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) was rendered inoperable due to the passage of a major storm. There would be a total collapse of medical services in Barbados if our major public medical treatment facility were to be seriously damaged. Such a scenario has not escaped the consideration of major agencies like the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and its goal is to ensure that nothing like that every happens. Throughout the region, member countries have been working to make hospitals safe from disasters.
HSI helping health facilities to measure up
Great strides made Over the last ten years, great strides have been made to ensure that hospitals and other key medical facilities would not fail during disasters but continue to function in an emergency with trained health workers to deliver needed care. In recent times, countries in the Caribbean have been working to improve the safety of their health facilities. As a first step, several states trained a number of professionals to apply the Hospital Safety Index (HSI) – a tool to evaluate structural, non-structural and functional aspects of health facilities. The HSI provides an indication of a hospital or health facility’s ability to continue functioning in emergency situations, based on structural, non-structural and functional factors, including the environment and the health services network to which it belongs. By determining a hospital’s safety index or score, decision-makers should get an idea of its ability to respond to major emergencies and disasters. The HSI does not replace costly and detailed vulnerability studies but given that it is relatively inexpensive and easy to apply, it is regarded as an important first step toward prioritising a country’s investments in hospital safety. Determining a hospital’s safety index is regarded as a new way of managing risk in the health sector. It allows a medical facility's level of safety to be monitored over time. Safety no longer has to be a ‘yesor-no’ or an ‘all-or-nothing situation’, it can instead be improved gradually. The HSI exercise was developed via a lengthy process of dialogue, testing and revision, over a two-year period, initially by the Pan American Health Organisation’s Disaster Mitigation Advisory Group (DiMAG) and later with input from other specialists in Latin America and the Caribbean. How is it done? There are a number of steps involved in calculating a health facility’s safety index.
Safe hospitals checklist First, an evaluation team uses a standardised safe hospitals checklist to assess the level of safety in approximately 145 areas of the hospital. With the checklist completed, the evaluation team collectively validates the scores and enters them into a scoring calculator, weighting each variable according to its relative importance to a hospital’s ability to withstand a disaster and continue functioning. The safety score is calculated automatically and the final safety index score places a health facility into one of three categories of safety, thereby helping authorities determine which facilities most urgently need interventions: Category A is awarded to facilities deemed able to protect the lives of their occupants and likely to continue functioning in disaster situations. Category B is assigned to facilities which can resist a disaster but whose equipment and critical services might be at risk. Category C denotes a health facility where the lives and safety of occupants are deemed at risk during disasters. Calculating the safety score allows health facilities to establish maintenance and monitoring routines and look at actions to improve safety in the medium term. A total of eight countries – Montserrat, Dominica, Grenada, Anguilla, St. Vincent, St Kitts, Nevis, and Barbados have applied the Index.
After applying the HSI, health facility managers were able to create safety improvement plans for the hospitals and prioritise needs for making the facilities safer. Five out of eight hospitals created safety improvement plans and some countries wasted little time in
implementing strategies outlined in the plans. Caribbean countries also trained senior staff in interpreting and executing hospital emergency plans and a few facilities carried out simulation exercises to test them.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2010. SUNDAY SUN SPECIAL. 13
ALTHOUGH the 2010 Atlantic Storm Season is yet to live up to its billing as a period of significant activity, the potential for mayhem before the November 30 close is still foremost in the minds of reinsurance executives. It has been accepted that hurricane and flood risks are on the rise in the Caribbean – a situation which could threaten the region’s development prospects. This disclosure was contained in a study on the economics of climate adaptation (ECA) in the region. Released by the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) it has been given thumbs up by the internationally known reinsurer, Swiss Re. In a nutshell, every year hurricanes threaten the Caribbean, putting lives and properties at risk from wind damage, storm surge and flooding. The devastation left by a severe weather system could have the potential to set back years of development gains in the region. Although the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season so far has been more like a tropical island breeze, its relative tranquillity could be deceiving – things could change in a matter of hours.
ECA study welcomed by reinsurer Hurricane risks are high in the Caribbean, and climate change could serve to make matters worse. According to the preliminary findings of the ECA study covering eight Caribbean countries, economic losses from storms and floods already add up to six per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) per year. Without additional adaptive measures, increasing climate risks could cost some Caribbean states up to nine per cent of their annual national income by 2030. The good news is that several adaptation initiatives are out there to help prepare for the worst. The study also showed that some Caribbean countries can cost-effectively
ACCORDING to early findings of the ECA study of eight Caribbean countries, economic losses from avert up to 90 per cent of storms and floods add up to six per cent of gross expected losses by domestic product per year. (FP) constructing sea walls, The methodology used in the enforcing building codes and Caribbean study was devised and tested implementing other preventive measures. by a consortium of public and private When it comes to protecting local partners, including Swiss Re. communities against the financial It gives decision-makers data to help consequences of very rare but severe in constructing a portfolio of affordable weather events, insurance – or risk transfer – generally proves to be the most adaptation measures. Swiss Re contributed analytical inputs cost-effective adaptation measure. to the ECA project in the Caribbean aimed Swiss Re supports the CCRIF as the at quantifying climate risks. lead reinsurer and has developed So far, the study covers Anguilla, innovative insurance solutions for several countries in the region, the Gulf of Mexico Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, region and most recently for the American Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Dominica, Jamaica and St. Lucia. state of Alabama.
14. SUNDAY SUN SPECIAL. SEPTEMBER 19, 2010
Tips to get your farm storm ready IF THE FARM is in a low lying area, you may need to identify an evacuation site on higher ground (if feasible) well in advance. • Choose best location for sheltering animals if evacuation is not feasible. • The decision to keep large animals in a barn (pen) or in open field is entirely up to you. However, if you decide to
keep them in a barn the structural strength of the barn should be considered. • Remove items from the aisles and walls of the barn. • Have all animals permanently identified (for example, ear tagged or tattooed), and make a checklist of all farm animals.
A SECTION of Dominica where the hurricane crop has been destroyed by Hurricane Georges. • Keep a well stocked livestock first-aid kit. • Store enough feed and water for about a week. • Store feed at least two feet above ground in a dry, flood-resistant area. • Identify food and water supply sources that do not depend on electricity, unless there is a back-up
generator. • Secure temporary fencing materials to permit quick fence repairs after the disaster. • Ensure all loose materials on your farm are securely stored away or tied down. • Prune trees/windbreaks near livestock houses.
• Secure important documents, including farm records, in waterproof containers. • Remove and secure covering of greenhouses/nurseries. • Secure inputs – fertilisers, pesticides and so on – ensure that they are stored away from feed
and planting materials. • Secure planting material for the post-hurricane period. • Harvest crops which are already marketable. • Secure beehive boxes and take into building.
Continued on next page.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2010. SUNDAY SUN SPECIAL. 15
Warnings key to fisherfolk safety • From Page 14. • Remove irrigation lines. • Clean and clear all watercourses. • Disconnect all electrical fixtures on farm. • Secure farm machinery and tools • Farm machinery should be filled with fuel (chainsaws, tractors, trucks.)
one week. • Collect eggs. • Prune trees/windbreaks near livestock houses. • Prune trees and branches that are directly over livestock houses and other farm building.
• Do not use food that has been in contact with flood water for your family or livestock.
Fishermen and other 48 hours before boat operators a hurricane
• Listen and take seriously all weather advisories issued by the • Visit evacuation site Meterological Office (where applicable) to see • Make early if animals are safe and arrangements to get your well. vessels to safety. 48 hours before • Don’t wait to the last • Stay clear of fallen the hurricane minute to get the boat out power lines and notify the • Make a check list of all power company of of the water farm animals. downed lines • Secure all equipment • Give identification marks • Check for injured and fishing gear to to all farm animals. prevent damage or theft. livestock and treat Secure inputs such as accordingly. • Do not remain on the livestock feed and • Round-up stray animals. vessel to ride out the medicine, to last at least storm or hurricane. • Burn or bury any one week. carcasses. • Secure vessels at the • Stock pile feed and • Assess damage to mooring or harbour. place at least two feet livestock, buildings and • Do not leave vessels on above ground in dry, equipment. the beach – it can be flood-resistant area. • Check for damaged damaged by storm • Remove cattle and small surges. fences and repair ruminants from low-lying • Liaise with the Fisheries immediately. areas and take to higher Officers on site to have • Cut and clear fallen ground. the vessel removed by the trees from fence lines, but • Secure important Tractor Service. stay clear of fallen power documents in water-proof • Make sure there is lines. containers. adequate rope berthing. • Remove sharp objects • Farm buildings and livestock sheds should be and debris from pastures • Provide additional fenders to prevent boats strengthened or checked and holding pens. from crashing into each • Milk cows and collect and secured as much as other. any eggs from poultry. possible. • Ensure that the boat is • Salvage any useable • Store enough water for not in danger from falling crops. livestock to last at least
What to do after the hurricane
trees or branches. • Inform all other fishers at sea through radio, flares and other communication signals.
• If time permits, retrieve fish pots. • Secure boats away from the reach of waves. • Ensure that the boat is not in danger from falling trees or branches. • Remove and secure all gear and safety supplies. • Secure any fish pots LIAISE with the Fisheries Officers on site to that were retrieved. have the vessels removed prior to the arrival of a storm. (FP)
36 hours before a hurricane
• Haul boats to approved • Move all large vessels to locations • All hauling of boats will safe harbour.
cease at least six hours prior to strike of a hurricane.
16. SUNDAY SUN SPECIAL. SEPTEMBER 19, 2010
The scale of hurricanes Herbert Saffir one of the minds behind measuring storms HE WAS a trained civil engineer, and Herbert Saffir who passed away in November 2007, will always be remembered for his work with former director of the National Hurricane Centre (NHC) Robert Simpson in developing the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale, used by forecasters the world over. A strong advocate of effective building codes,he began developing the fivecategory hurricane scale during the late 1960s. He worked with Simpson on the project and their system of rating the destructive capability of hurricanes on the basis of wind speed and storm surge moved into common usage during the mid1970s. Saffir’s innovation ranked storm destruction by type, from Category 1 – where trees and unanchored mobile homes receive the primary damage – to Category 5, the complete failure of roofs and some structures. The five descriptions of destruction were then matched with the sustained wind speeds that would produce the corresponding damage. Discussing his work prior to his passing, he said his interest in storm damage began in 1947 when he was assistant county engineer in Dade County, Florida. Saffir had responsibility for doing some of the engineering aspects of the building code at that time. According to him, the documentation was really not adequate, given that tropical storms and hurricanes were a way of life in the state. Most of the building code work was galvanised by hurricanes of 1926. According to the pioneer, the devastation caused by those systems was tremendous and the scale of damage in present-day dollars,was possibly much worse than Hurricane Andrew. In Saffir’s view, each hurricane that came added to the impetus for revising and making building codes better. In 1960, Hurricane Donna moved up the coast and that was the first time, standards were in place in a building code for things
like windows, glass, sliding glass doors etc. According to him, each time a hurricane came in, new issues showed up – as was the case with Hurricane Andrew in 1992. “The way I got into the hurricane scale, was back in the 1970s, I had a commission from the United Nations, of all people. They wanted a study on low-cost housing throughout the world that was subject to tropical cyclones, hurricanes. They’re the same in India and Australia and Japan and Korea and South Florida, even though they all have different names. “And that’s when I got into setting forth rules for buildings, small buildings, residential buildings, and I also set up the hurricane scale because there was no scale that corresponded to the earthquake scales,” said Saffir.
Measuring damage According to the engineer what he developed with Simpson, was based on the possible structural damage which could occur from each category of storm going from 74 miles per hour – the minimum type of storm, up to 155 miles per hour. “I gave the scale to the National Hurricane Center for their use. Bob Simpson, who was the director of the hurricane center at the time, added a possible tidal surge, storm surge, possible flooding for each category. Now the emergency management people tell me they don’t know how they got along without the scale. They use it as far as Australia, in modified shape.” Saffir also believed that that South Florida, MiamiDade County, Broward County amd Monroe County have the greatest likelihood of having storms. Asked about the likely cost increases which would occur if construction were asked to comply with meaningful standards, the engineer indicated that you should not expect to get something for nothing. “Whenever you adopt tougher standards, you’re going to increase the cost of construction. There’s no getting away from that. You
can design for a nuclear blast. You could have designed the federal building in Oklahoma City to resist the bomb blast if you had wanted to put the money into it. We made estimates here in MiamiDade County, and our pretty detailed estimates for one- and two-storey residences showed you would increase [the cost] by about five percent. So we accepted it, you would have to live with that.”
Reflecting on the devastation which Hurricane Andrew caused, Saffir said it was clear the recommendations of the building standards were not being followed. “Andrew was a storm that exceeded the design criteria that we used. In fact, it still exceeds the storm design that we use and what the state building code would use. We really aren’t taking care of every possible eventuality. There
was a long period of complacency [and] to a builder, to a contractor, time is money. They’re always in a rush to get a job finished.” He also predicted that one day, worse could come. On the value of evacuating communities ahead of a severe storm, the engineer said people in areas of possible tidal surge would do well to get out while there was time.
HERBERT SAFFIR with the scale he helped create wit, Robert Simpson. (Internet Image)
SEPTEMBER 19, 2010. SUNDAY SUN SPECIAL. 17
Global warming an increasingly hot topic IT HAS not been dominating headlines of late but the debate surrounding the potential impact of global warming is still very much alive. Just a few years ago, global warming was the source of much political controversy. As scientific knowledge has grown, the debate has moved away from whether human activity is responsible towards questions of how best to respond. Signs that the earth is warming have been recorded all over the globe. Just go and research thermometer records kept over the past century and a half and see how temperatures have changed. Around the world, the Earth’s average temperature has risen more than one degree Fahrenheit or 0.8 degrees Celsius over the last century, and about twice that in parts of the Arctic. This doesn’t mean that temperatures haven’t fluctuated among regions of the globe or between seasons and times of day. If one averages temperatures all over the world over the course of a year, it should become obvious that the mercury has been creeping upward. While we can’t look at thermometers going back thousands of years, we do have records which can help us figure out what temperatures and concentrations were like in the distant past. Trees store information about the climate in the place where they grow. Each year, trees grow thicker and form new rings. In warmer and wetter years, the rings are thicker. Keys to the past are
also buried under lakes and oceans. Pollen, creatures, and particles fall to the bottom of oceans and lakes each year, forming sediments which preserve all these bits and pieces. The latter contain a wealth of information about what was in the air and water when they fell. Scientists reveal this record by inserting hollow tubes into the mud to collect sediment layers going back millions of years. For a direct look at the atmosphere of the past, scientists drill cores through the Earth’s polar ice sheets. Tiny bubbles trapped in the gas become pieces of the Earth’s past atmosphere, frozen in time.
Gases a sign That’s how we know that concentrations of greenhouse gases since the industrial revolution are higher than they’ve been for hundreds of thousands of years. Computer models help scientists to understand the Earth’s climate, or long-term weather patterns. These models also allow scientists to make predictions about the future climate. They simulate how the atmosphere and oceans absorb energy from the sun and transport it around the globe. Factors that affect the amount of the sun’s energy reaching Earth’s surface are what drive the climate in these models, as in real life. These include things like greenhouse gases, particles in the atmosphere – such as from volcanoes – and changes in energy coming from the sun itself.
SCIENTISTS have over the years been increasingly studying the earth, its climate and its inhabitants in order to understand global warming. (FP)
18. SUNDAY SUN SPECIAL. SEPTEMBER 19, 2010
Hurricane hunter lost chasing Janet THE ONLY Atlantic Hurricane Hunter flight to go down while flying a mission did so on September 26, 1955. A United States Navy P2V Neptune weather reconnaissance airplane code name ‘Snowcloud Five’, flying out of Guantanamo, Cuba, was lost during Hurricane Janet, 300 miles southwest of Jamaica. Snowcloud Five was part of Airborne Early Warning Squadron Four (VW-4), based at the Jacksonville, Florida Naval Air Station. Carrying a crew of nine and two reporters from the Toronto Daily Star, Snowcloud Five took off at 06:30 hours local time, and began its initial penetration into Hurricane Janet at an altitude of 700 feet. At the time of the crash, Hurricane Janet was a Category Four hurricane with 145 miles per hour winds. The aircraft sent back the following transmission and was never heard from again: “Navy reconnaissance flight 5u93, observation number five, at 1330 GMT (8:30 am EST), Monday, located at latitude 15.4 degrees north, longitude 78.2 degrees west. Oblique and horizontal visibility 3-10 miles, altitude 700 feet, flight wind 050 degrees (northeast) 45 knots (52 mph). Present weather light intermittent showers, past weather same, overcast and some scud below, surface pressure 1 003 millibars (29.62 inches), surface winds 050 degrees (ne), 45 knots (52 mph). beginning penetration.” An intensive air and sea search operation combed a 300 by 200 mile region of the Caribbean for the missing airplane over a period of five days. In all, 60 aircraft, seven ships, and 3 000 personnel were involved. No trace of Snowcloud Five was ever found. Dr Hugh Willoughby,
former director of NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division, speculated on the fate of Snowcloud Five in a review of Stormchasers which appeared in the February, 2003 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society: He noted that: “The enlisted aerographer’s mate was left behind that day in order to accommodate the Toronto Daily Star reporter. This key crew member was normally responsible for keeping the pilots aware of altitude by calling out readings from the only radar altimeter on board, located at the aerologist’s station. Without him, the aerologist, Lt. William Buck, had to do two demanding jobs: He had to simultaneously read the bouncing, flickering altimeter and peer down from his Plexiglas bubble in the nose to discern the wind from streaks of foam on the sea. It is easy to imagine how he might have lost control of the situation as he struggled to keep the airplane safely above the waves and flying perpendicular to the wind towards the eye.” Personnel lost on the mission were: Lt. Cmdr. Grover B. Windham Jr. of Jacksonville, Florida, plane commander. Lt (jg) Thomas R. Morgan of Orange Park, Florida, navigator. Lt (jg) George W. Herlong of Yukon, Florida, co-pilot. Aviation electronics technician second class, Julius J. Mann, 22, of Canton, Ohio. Lt (jg) Thomas L. Greaney, 26, of Jacksonville, FL, navigator. Aviation mechanic first class, J. P. Windham, Jr., 32 of Jacksonville, Florida. Airman Kenneth L. Klegg, 22, of Cranston, Rhode Island. Aviation Electronics Man First Class Joseph F.
Combs of Forest Park, New York. Aerologist William A. Buck, of Jacksonville, Florida.
Toronto Daily Star Reporter Alfred O Tate. Toronto Daily Star Photographer Douglas Cronk.
HURRICANE JANET is one of the few storms to have had a direct impact on Barbados. It was in pursuit of Hurricane Janet that the storm hunter Snowcloud Five vanished. (FP)
SEPTEMBER 19, 2010. SUNDAY SUN SPECIAL. 19
Hurricanes harmful to health HURRICANES are extremely traumatic events. The death and destruction which they leave in their wake can have extremely adverse effects on some individuals, particularly those suffering from chronic conditions. Shock and denial are typical responses to traumatic events and disasters, usually shortly after the event, both are normal protective reactions. Shock is a sudden and often intense disturbance of the emotional state which can leave individuals feeling stunned or dazed. Denial involves one not acknowledging that something very stressful has happened, or not experiencing fully the
THE death and destruction which hurricanes – like Katrina – leave in their wake can have extremely adverse effects on some people. (FP)
intensity of the event. As the initial shock subsides, reactions will vary from one person to another but certain responses are typical. Feelings may become intense and sometimes unpredictable. A person might exhibit signs of greater irritability than normal inclusive of dramatic mood swings and episodes of depression. Thoughts and behavioral patterns may be affected by trauma. Repeated and vivid flashbacks have been reported by several people. They may occur for no apparent reason and may trigger physical reactions such as rapid heart beat or sweating. People who suffer from traumatic flashbacks, may find it difficult to concentrate or make decisions and may
easily become confused. Recurring emotional reactions are common among trauma sufferers. Reactions may be triggered by sights and smells which give reminders of preparing for or responding to the hurricane. Interpersonal relationships often become strained under such circumstances. Greater conflict, including frequent arguments with family members and peers, would be common. By contrast episodes of withdrawal and isolation could come to the fore. Physical symptoms – headaches, nausea and chest pain – may accompany the stress to the point where medical intervention could be required. Pre-existing conditions could worsen too.
20. SUNDAY SUN SPECIAL. SEPTEMBER 19, 2010
The weather can be a headache – literally IS THERE a connection between the onset of the hurricane season and migraine headaches? Based on the observations of researchers in Florida, there could very well be a link. According to the findings, living in Florida could be difficult for individuals who suffer with migraines and other types of headaches. The results of the study released about two years ago, suggested that a fall in in the barometric pressure could bring on a migraine attack. During the hurricane season in Florida, residents experience a
greater chance of tropical storms and thundershowers than they do hurricanes. There may be low pressure systems sitting over the state with no actual bad weather. According to the research, it is not so much the rain which triggers the migraine attack as it is the lower barometric pressure. It was reported that during a string of six tropical storms and hurricane fronts over a six week period, many patients who normally had perfectly good control of their migraines experienced their worst attacks ever. Extensive research was
carried out to try and determine why changes in barometric pressure, temperature and humidity could have such a profound triggering effect on migraine. Unfortunately no definite conclusion has been reached.
More headaches The effects on the outdoor environment by these weather systems, in Florida, seemed to have a profound effect on headache suffers. Not only did the change in weather trigger headache attacks but so did an increase in pollen, mold and fungus spores.
Patients can often claim that they are feeling the effects of sinus headaches. Truth be told, bona fide sinus headaches belong in the same category as chances of winning the lottery, one in 14 million – true sinus headaches are rare. According to the researchers, what the patients actually felt was a milder form of migraine headache, brought on by weather, pollen and mold stimuli. Migraine headache symptoms include: nasal congestion, sinus pressure, sensitivity to light and nasal drainage. While they might be
RESEARCHERS in Florida have suggested that lower barometric pressures – normally associated with the hurricane season – could bring on migranes in headache sufferers. (FP) termed sinus symptoms by sufferers, they are part of the migraine syndrome. Because patients frequently take sinus medications to help or stop their headache. This, unfortunately, reinforces the mistaken belief that they are suffering from sinus headaches.
The fact is, sinus medications have a similar headache relief effect as do those of the more specific migraine drugs. About fifty per cent of migraine sufferers find that changes in weather will trigger their headaches when the hurricane season June 1 to November 30 arrives.
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