Posted in Health, news, weather

This Year’s Hurricane Season: Predictions

This year the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association) predicts a “near-normal” hurricane season.

According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, this season may have 9 to 15 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 4 to 8 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 2 to 4 major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher).

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

  • 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 129 mph
  • Category IV have sustained winds of 130 to 156 mph
  • Category V have sustained  winds of over 157 mph

Category III storms have known to cause “devastating” damage and Categories IV and V have been associated with “catastrophic” damage.

In a given year, the Atlantic Ocean averages 12 named storms with 6 becoming “hurricanes” and 3 becoming “major” meaning a Category III or greater.

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 was at one point a Category V but when it hit landfall it was a Category 3, tragically killing over 1800 people and causing $108 billion in damage.  The deadliest hurricane to ever hit US soil, however, was the Great Galveston Hurricane of 1900 in which over 10,000 people died.

Our current hurricane season may be dependent on “El Nino” and water temperatures.

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 lower than active hurricane seasons.  However warmer water temperatures in the Atlantic and Caribbean as well as monsoon activity in Africa could increase hurricane activity.

So an El Nino hurricane season may offer some protection but can be easily offset by ocean water temperatures.

This year’s names for the 2019 Hurricane Season are the following

Atlantic

Andrea
Barry
Chantal
Dorian
Erin
Fernand
Gabrielle
Humberto
Imelda
Jerry
Karen
Lorenzo
Melissa
Nestor
Olga
Pablo
Rebekah
Sebastian
Tanya
Van
Wendy

 

Pacific

Alvin
Barbara
Cosme
Dalila
Erick
Flossie
Gil
Henriette
Ivo
Juliette
Kiko
Lorena
Mario
Narda
Octave
Priscilla
Raymond
Sonia
Tico
Velma
Wallis
Xina
York
Zelda

 

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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, they recommend the following:

 

Prepare NOW
  • Know your area’s risk of hurricanes.
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
  • If you are at risk for flash flooding, watch for warning signs such as heavy rain.
  • Practice going to a safe shelter for high winds, such as a FEMA safe room or ICC 500 storm shelter. The next best protection is a small, interior, windowless room in a sturdy building on the lowest level that is not subject to flooding.
  • Based on your location and community plans, make your own plans for evacuation or sheltering in place.
  • Become familiar with your evacuation zone, the evacuation route, and shelter locations.
  • Gather needed supplies for at least three days. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Don’t forget the needs of pets.
  • Keep important documents in a safe place or create password-protected digital copies.
  • Protect your property. Declutter drains and gutters. Install check valves in plumbing to prevent backups. Consider hurricane shutters. Review insurance policies.
When a hurricane is 36 hours from arriving
  • Turn on your TV or radio in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
  • Restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include food and water sufficient for at least three days, medications, a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.
  • Plan how to communicate with family members if you lose power. For example, you can call, text, email or use social media. Remember that during disasters, sending text messages is usually reliable and faster than making phone calls because phone lines are often overloaded.
  • Review your evacuation zone, evacuation route and shelter locations. Plan with your family. You may have to leave quickly so plan ahead.
  • Keep your car in good working condition, and keep the gas tank full; stock your vehicle with emergency supplies and a change of clothes.
  • If you have NFIP flood insurance, your policy may cover up to $1000 in loss avoidance measures, like sandbags and water pumps, to protect your insured property. You should keep copies of all receipts and a record of the time spent performing the work. They should be submitted to your insurance adjuster when you file a claim to be reimbursed. Visit www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/137860 to learn more.
When a hurricane is 18-36 hours from arriving
  • Bookmark your city or county website for quick access to storm updates and emergency instructions.
  • Bring loose, lightweight objects inside that could become projectiles in high winds (e.g., patio furniture, garbage cans); anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., propane tanks); and trim or remove trees close enough to fall on the building.
  • Cover all of your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.
When a hurricane is 6-18 hours from arriving
  • Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
  • Charge your cell phone now so you will have a full battery in case you lose power.
When a hurricane is 6 hours from arriving
  • If you’re not in an area that is recommended for evacuation, plan to stay at home or where you are and let friends and family know where you are.
  • Close storm shutters, and stay away from windows. Flying glass from broken windows could injure you.
  • Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting and open only when necessary. If you lose power, food will last longer. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator to be able to check the food temperature when the power is restored.
  • Turn on your TV/radio, or check your city/county website every 30 minutes in order to get the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
Survive DURING
  • If told to evacuate, do so immediately. Do not drive around barricades.
  • If sheltering during high winds, go to a FEMA safe room, ICC 500 storm shelter, or a small, interior, windowless room or hallway on the lowest floor that is not subject to flooding.
  • If trapped in a building by flooding, go to the highest level of the building. Do not climb into a closed attic. You may become trapped by rising flood water.
  • Listen for current emergency information and instructions.
  • Use a generator or other gasoline-powered machinery outdoors ONLY and away from windows.
  • Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters. Turn Around. Don’t Drown! Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
  • Stay off of bridges over fast-moving water.
Be Safe AFTER
  • Listen to authorities for information and special instructions.
  • Be careful during clean-up. Wear protective clothing and work with someone else.
  • Do not touch electrical equipment if it is wet or if you are standing in water. If it is safe to do so, turn off electricity at the main breaker or fuse box to prevent electric shock.
  • Avoid wading in flood water, which can contain dangerous debris. Underground or downed power lines can also electrically charge the water.
  • Save phone calls for emergencies. Phone systems are often down or busy after a disaster. Use text messages or social media to communicate with family and friends.
  • Document any property damage with photographs. Contact your insurance company for assistance.

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.

 

spanish book

Learning Medical Spanish is Easy!!!

 

Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

Posted in Health, news, weather

Does the Hurricane Scale System Need Revision?

Image above from the Wall Street Journal

Experts debate whether the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is adequate in classifying hurricane damage.

When Category 4 Storm Florence became downgraded to a 1 many chose not to evacuate.  But a Category 1 hurricane is still a hurricane and deadly.  A downgrade being reported by the media may give residents a false sense of security or a sense of distrust in our category system.

Categories are based on wind speed, while the damage from a hurricane that includes rainfall, flooding, and actual size may not be readily represented by the single digit number.

 

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Reports surfaced that Hurricane Florence was the “size of Michigan” when it made landfall in the Carolinas.  Maybe an additional scale or change of the current scale is in order to allow residents a better guestimate of storm surge, flooding, health risks, time away from their homes and economic ramifications.

Hurricane Florence’s death toll was at 37 as of Thursday morning and thousands of residents were in need of rescuing from flood waters.

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.

 

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Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.

She is also a Board Certified Family Physician and Assistant Professor at Touro University Nevada

Posted in Health, news

Thunderstorm Asthma: sadly the “perfect storm” of asthma triggers

Six people have died and multiple people hospitalized after “Thunderstorm Asthma” struck people in Melbourne, Australia.

 

Last week a local storm hit the area and a massive asthma outbreak ensued. The storm, its believed, caused pollen particles to swell and rupture into much smaller particles, which were dispersed by wind.  The theory is that the immediate propulsion of much smaller (and more numerous) particles into one’s lungs was the recipe for asthma disaster.  Six people have already died and 5 more are in intensive care units, three of whom in “critical condition”. Multiple others have been hospitalized leaving the country in shock.

 

We first learned of “thunderstorm asthma” in the 1980’s when epidemics occurred in parts of Europe, Australia and Iran. Environmental conditions change and asthma allergens meet the unsuspecting lungs.

 

Asthma is a respiratory condition in which inflammation causes the airways to narrow, restricting air flow and causing wheezing, shortness of breath and cough.  This bronchoconstriction can be deadly if the patient doesn’t receive enough oxygen. Bronchodilators, such as albuterol are used to dilate the airways and steroids are commonly given to decrease the inflammation.

If someone has baseline asthma, a storm forecast should warrant preparatory measures, including ensuring one has plenty of inhalers, and seeing their provider to determine if they are vulnerable to “tipping over”.  Many feel a false sense of security with rain as they believe it will wash away the dust.  As Melbourne witnessed, a thunderstorm can be just as deadly.

 

A variety of factors can cause asthma attacks including:

Pollen

Smoke

Alcohol

Cold air

Dust mites

Mold

Pet dander

Exercise

Laughing

Stress

Acid reflux/heartburn

Aspirin

Air fresheners, perfume, scents

Traffic and pollution

and more.

 

As we see, asthma is not solely caused by a Spring time flower particle. A variety of issues can trigger an attack.  If its sudden, unexpected, stressful and carries a concentrated variety of particles, this combination can be deadly.  Hence “thunderstorm asthma” can be a lung’s perfect storm…….

 

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