Posted in Health, news, weather

This Year’s Hurricane Season: Predictions

June 1st marks the official start of Hurricane season and runs until November 30th.  September is usually the most active month.  Hurricanes are categorized by their wind speed as designated as the following:

 

Category I have sustained winds of 74 to 95 mph

Category II have sustained winds of 96 to 110 mph

Category III have sustained winds of 111 to 130 mph

Category IV have sustained winds of 131 to 155 mph

Category V have sustained  winds of over 155 mph.

In a given year, the Atlantic Ocean averages 12 hurricanes with 2 becoming “major” meaning a Category III or greater.  Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was at one point a Category V and when it hit landfall it was a Category 3-4 (depending on the source), tragically killing over 1800 people and causing $108 billion in damage.  The deadliest hurricane to ever hit US soil was the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 in which over 10,000 people died.

According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, The Weather Company and Colorado State University, the 2018 Hurricane season will be above average in activity, with possibly 14 named storms, 7 of which are expected to become hurricanes, 3 of which could become major hurricanes.

2017 was a particularly active hurricane season with three major hurricanes hitting the US.  Dr. Phil Klotzbach, of the Colorado State University Tropical Meteorological Project, stated in 2017, “While the tropical Atlantic is warmer than normal, the far North Atlantic remains colder than normal, potentially indicative of a negative phase of the Atlantic Multi-Decadal Oscillation (AMO). Negative phases of the AMO tend to be associated with overall less conducive conditions for Atlantic hurricane activity due to higher tropical Atlantic surface pressures, drier middle levels of the atmosphere and increased levels of sinking motion.”

This year he states, “Last season had near-record warm sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic.”  He continues, “If El Niño were to suddenly develop, that would certainly knock down our forecast.”

El Nino is refers to a ocean-atmospheric interaction where sea surface temperatures rise near the equatorial Pacific, causing increase wind shear in the Atlantic equatorial region and has been linked to highly active hurricane seasons.

This year’s names for the 2018 Hurricane Season are the following

Atlantic

Alberto
Beryl
Chris
Debby
Ernesto
Florence
Gordon
Helene
Isaac
Joyce
Kirk
Leslie
Michael
Nadine
Oscar
Patty
Rafael
Sara
Tony
Valerie
William

 

Pacific

Aletta
Bud
Carlotta
Daniel
Emilia
Fabio
Gilma
Hector
Ileana
John
Kristy
Lane
Miriam
Norman
Olivia
Paul
Rosa
Sergio
Tara
Vicente
Willa
Xavier
Yolanda
Zeke

 

If I was going to predict on names alone, I’d forecast Helene, Isaac and Kirk to be doozies.

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How to prepare for the hurricane season

Preparation means starting early.

Make sure you keep informed of the latest alerts and official recommendations.

Evacuate when told to do so by city officials.

Many people will try to tough it out and unfortunately get walled up in their homes.  So make sure you have adequate water (1 gallon per day/person for at least three days) and 1/4 – 1/2 gallon/water/ per pet, except the fish obviously.

Canned foods, flashlights, medical supply kit, batteries, blankets, cash, medications in water proof containers should be set aside for disasters, and put important papers in waterproof/fireproof casings.

According to ready.gov, its recommended to do the following:

  • Hurricane winds can cause trees and branches to fall, so before hurricane season trim or remove damaged trees and limbs to keep you and your property safe.
  • Secure loose rain gutters and downspouts and clear any clogged areas or debris to prevent water damage to your property.
  • Reduce property damage by retrofitting to secure and reinforce the roof, windows and doors, including the garage doors.
  • Purchase a portable generator or install a generator for use during power outages. Remember to keep generators and other alternate power/heat sources outside, at least 20 feet away from windows and doors and protected from moisture; and NEVER try to power the house wiring by plugging a generator into a wall outlet.
  • Consider building a FEMA safe room or ICC 500 storm shelter designed for protection from high-winds and in locations above flooding levels.  

Always have an emergency plan, practice it with family members, discuss with distantly located relatives how you will notify each other of your safety, and stay tuned to your radio, TV, wireless emergency alerts encase evacuations are ordered.

   LearnHealthSpanish.com

                                                                                                         Medical Spanish made easy

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician

 

Posted in Health, news

Fire at Texas Chemical Plant Prompts More Evacuations

Image above from NBC News

A series of chemical “pops”, not full explosions, and smoke at a chemical plant in Crosby, Texas prompted evacuations Thursday morning.

Flood waters disrupted power at Arkema Chemical Plant, such that they lost cooling in 8 of the 9 organic chemical containers containing organic peroxides.  As the chemicals warm up they become combustible and fires could release noxious hydrocarbons.

No chemical release is ongoing.  And no damage has been anticipated to any other property on site.

A 1 1/2 mile evacuation zone was initiated as all back up systems, including generators failed.

8 of the 9 organic chemical containers lost refrigeration and the contents are expected to degrade as they heat up and risk being combustible.  Organic peroxides explosively decompose.

According to Richard Rennard, spokesperson for Arkema confirmed, “This is not a chemical release.  It’s a fire.”  And he explained that the chemical hydrocarbons may be released from the fire.

Harris County Sheriff, Ed Gonzalez, said, “I want to be very clear: It was not an explosion.” and reassured citizens by saying “It is not anything toxic; it is not anything that we feel is a danger to the community at all.”

Rennard stated the flood water levels in the plant are starting to recede slightly.

Crosby Texas is located 25 miles northeast of Houston.

Fifteen police offers were hospitalized for observation when they complained of headaches and dizziness after the explosion.

The smoke may cause liver damage, irritate the cornea of the eyes, skin irritation and respiratory problems.

Organic peroxides, used ubiquitously in the plastic and rubber industry, must be kept cold.  When the organic peroxides heat up they begin to degrade and become toxic and corrosive.

It appears they plan to keep people out of the plant and let the chemicals degrade on their own.

Flood waters are preventing further inspection of the chemicals.

This is a developing story.

 

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician

Posted in food, Health, news

Harvey Flooding Brings Major Health Risks

After the initial flooding and torrential downpour subside, Hurricane Harvey will put thousands of residents at risk for major health issues.

In addition to drowning, falls and other deadly injuries, victims of Harvey may endure the following:

Malnourishment

Many of those who did prepare for the storm may not have stored plenty of food, especially healthy fresh food.  Those trapped in their homes may find the food they did store contaminated by flood water.

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Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank 2016

 

Infectious disease

The World Health Organization states that floods bring water borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, leptospirosis and Hepatitis A.  Vector borne diseases include Zika, malaria, dengue hemorrhagic fever, yellow fever, and West Nile.

Homepage-Mosquito-1024x689

Mosquitos initially get washed away during the storm, but the resulting puddles of water take weeks to dry and make ideal breeding grounds for insects.

The water gets dirty pretty quickly.  People touching the flood water need to wash their hands thoroughly before eating or preparing food.

Moreover due to the moisture that seeped into walls and floors of houses, mold can grow and cause a variety of respiratory issues among other physical ailments.  Massive disinfecting needs to take place before coming home to flood water contaminated residencies.

toxic-black-mold.jpg

Chemical exposure

Chemicals from garages and fuel seeping into flood water expose victims to many compounds such as benzene, toluene and xylene that can cause a multitude of health effects including those that affect breathing, skin, the gut, balance, thought, and memory.

Safety

A Cajun Navy rescuer told CNN that looters fired shots at him and his comrades, trying to take their rescue boat, which had actually broken down.  Panic fuels dangerous behavior and those without resources may try to take from those who prepared.

Sexual assault crimes can rise as predators find the chaos and lack of video surveillance ideal conditions to find victims who can’t yell for help.

Psychological

When one loses their home, neighborhood, income, treasured belongings and more, its devastating.  Post traumatic stress disorder may ensue.

To combat these risks, medical personnel and the CDC are preparing.  Among food, shelter and clothes, paper products, sanitizer, cleaning supplies, tetanus vaccinations and counselors will be needed is mass quantities.

How can we help?

Blood supplies will be needed as residents who routinely donate have evacuated the area. Donating blood at your local blood bank may be shipped to the area in need.

United Blood Services have locations throughout the country that can accept your blood Donation. Contact UBS here.

The American Red Cross is accepting donations. On their website, they ask to visit redcross.org, call 1-800-RED CROSS or text the word REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation.

The Salvation Army is also accepting donations online and by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY (725-2769).

The Red Cross and Salvation Army may also need local volunteers to help set up shelters.  Contact the above numbers.

Local volunteers are asked to donate supplies to nearby recreation centers housing evacuees.

Supply drives in out-of-state locations may not be accepted directly but could help local charities who need to ship supplies to the affected area.

 

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, iHeart Radio and Board Certified Family Physician