Weather

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Q: What is the deadliest type of weather disaster?

Texas A&M UniversityA: The weather-related incident that kills the most people in the United States is flooding, says Brent McRoberts of Texas A&M University.  “You hear a lot about blizzards or tornadoes, but more people are killed by floods than any other type of weather-related incident,” he explains.  “This goes back to 1889 and the famous Johnstown Flood in Pennsylvania in which 2,200 people were killed.  During the 20th century, floods were the number one natural disaster in the U.S. in terms of property damage and fatalities. In 1993, the Great Midwest Flood killed 48 people and did $12 billion in damage in numerous states.  But that’s nothing compared to other parts of the world.  In 1931, one of the worst weather incidents in history occurred when the Yangtze River flooded, killing 3.7 million in China due to flooding and subsequent disease and starvation. In 1971 in Vietnam, more than 100,000 died in flooding in that country.”

Q: Why are floods so dangerous?

A: The best answer is that too much water flows at one place in a very short time and we often underestimate the power of water, adds McRoberts.  “Flash floods are the most dangerous because they can happen quickly and have tremendous power, moving anything in their path,” he says.  “Flash floods can occur any time, any where. The National Weather Service notes that flash floods can occur because of excessive rainfall, a dam or levee failure or a sudden release of water held by ice jams.  A flash flood caused by 15 inches of rain in 5 hours killed 237 people in Rapid City, S.D., in 1972.  According to the U.S. Geological Survey, most flood deaths are caused by flash floods, and 50 percent of all flash flood fatalities are vehicle-related.  Also, 90 percent of people who die during a hurricane are due to drowning caused by flooding.  To compound the problem, in the U.S. most homeowners insurance policies do not cover damage caused by flooding.”

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femaSBA logoAUSTIN, Texas – Eligible individuals and business owners in Erath, Gregg, Harrison, Hood, Jasper, Marion, Newton, Orange and Parker counties who register for disaster assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) may receive an automated phone call from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). SBA’s recorded message gives instructions on how to request an application for a low-interest disaster loan.

Because FEMA grants may not cover all damage or property loss, private insurance and low-interest loans from the SBA are major sources of additional disaster recovery funds for businesses of all sizes (including landlords), private non-profits, homeowners and renters.

The survivor must complete and submit the SBA application because it may open the door to further assistance, including additional FEMA grants. There is no cost to apply and no obligation to accept the loan.

Interest rates can be as low as 4 percent for businesses, 2.625 percent for private nonprofit organizations and 1.813 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years.

  • Eligible homeowners may borrow up to $200,000 for home repair or replacement of primary residences, and eligible homeowners and renters may borrow up to $40,000 to replace disaster-damaged or destroyed personal property, including a vehicle.
  • Businesses of all sizes and nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery, equipment, inventory and other business assets.
  • Small businesses and most private nonprofits suffering economic impact from a disaster can apply for up to $2 million for any combination of property damage or economic injury under SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program.

FEMA and SBA encourage survivors to:

  • Register with FEMA at gov or by phone (voice, 711 or video relay service) at 800-621-3362, TTY 800-462-7585. Toll-free lines are open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week and multilingual operators are available.
  • Go online at gov/disaster and download an application. Contact SBA at 800-659-2955,

by email at disastercustomerservice@SBA.gov or meet with an SBA Representative at a Disaster Recovery Center to learn more about disaster loans, the application process, or    for help completing the SBA application. Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call 800-877-8339.

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TexasUniv_NewLogoTopic: Hail and green skies

Q:  Why does the sky sometimes look green during a thunderstorm?

A: It’s a question that has been asked for centuries and is still not fully answered, says Brent McRoberts of Texas A&M University. “We know the ancient Greeks reported seeing green skies during thunderstorms, and sailors for hundreds of years have written about green skies,” McRoberts explains. “The most popular theory is that thunderstorms contain a lot of water – often in the form of hail – and this water or ice tends to scatter green light during the strong updrafts that occur in severe storms. That’s why many people say the sky appears green right before a hailstorm.”

Q:  Does the sky look green during a tornado?

A: It can, says McRoberts, but not always so. “Often the sky appears almost black during a tornado, but sometimes there are greenish-looking tints to the clouds,” he adds. “Many tornadoes have hail right around them. What we do know for sure is that green skies do exist, but they are fairly rare. They may or may not contain a tornado, and they may or may not contain hail.  We do know that they are almost always an indicator of severe weather, often very dangerous weather, so if you see a thunderstorm approaching and the sky appears to look green, you should take cover immediately.”

Fort Bend LogoOffice of Emergency Management Learns Valuable Lessons from Each and Every Activation

Posted March 9, 2016 8:07:12 AM CST

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PARA PUBLICACION INMEDIATA

Fort Bend County, TX – It is better to be prepared and not need it, than to be caught off guard: as they say “better safe than sorry.” A minimal crew of officials at the Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management worked overnight last night to monitor the potential severe weather event, and ended up learning lessons and testing processes instead of needing to respond to an all-out crisis.

FB OEM“We will take events like this one over the alternative,” reflected Jeff Braun, Emergency Management Coordinator. “Seeing what happened on the radar to areas north and east of us, it could have been ugly here for us.”

The Fort Bend County Emergency Operations center raised the readiness level from level four (routine) to level three (elevated) yesterday morning, focusing resources on preparation for the potential weather event. At 11:30 pm the emergency operations center escalated to level two (high) until standing down to routine readiness at 6:30 this morning.

Several Fort Bend County departments were either monitoring or responding to the weather overnight, including the Sheriff’s office, Public Transportation, Road and Bridge, and the Drainage District. Other agencies were communicating with the EOC including school districts, other operation centers, and the Red Cross. If the storm had taken a turn for the worse, the region would be ready to take action.

Alan Spears, Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator added, “Our preparedness is just like the community’s personal preparedness: you hope you don’t need a kit, a flashlight, water, or a first-aid kit; but every time you get to use it you get a little more comfortable with it and a little better at it.” This is the fourth activation of the Fort Bend County EOC in a year. Spears adds: “We make the most of these events by testing our systems, tweaking our procedures, and trying to learn as much as we can. There isn’t an activation around here that wastes people’s time.” Lessons learned range from additional equipment needs to better ways to organize contact information.

The highest rain rate measured at the Fort Bend County Emergency Operation Center was a mere 1.1 inches per hour, and total rainfall was only .17 inch at 307 Fort Street in Richmond, Texas. The Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management will continue monitoring weather conditions throughout the day, and urges travelers to use caution when driving on wet roadways, especially since more rain is expected throughout the day. Be sure to monitor local media, the Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management website, and the National Weather Service for more information throughout the day.

Fort Bend County, TX – Es mejor estar preparados y no necesitar que no estar listos. Con personal limitado de oficiales en la Oficina de Centro de Operaciones de Emergencia trabajaron toda la noche para monitorear la potencial de clima grave, aprendimos la lección de proceso de pruebas en ves de la necesidad de responder a una crisis total.

“Escogimos eventos como este comparado al alternativo,” reflexiona Jeff Braun, el coordinador de la Ofician de Operaciones de Emergencia.” Miramos lo que paso al norte y este de nosotros y podía haber sido el tiempo más feo.”

El Centro de Operaciones de Emergencia incremento el nivel de preparación a 4 (rutina) de nivel 3 (elevado) ayer por la mañana, enfocando los recursos de preparación por el evento de clima grave. A las 11:30 pm el centro de Operaciones de Emergencia llego a nivel 2 (alto) y luego bajo a nivel 3 (rutina) a las 6:30 am.

Varios departamentos de Fort Bend County estaban monitoreando o respondiendo al clima por la noche, incluyendo, la Oficina de Sheriff, Public Transportation, Road and Bridge, y el Drainage District. Otras agencias estaban comunicándose con el EOC, incluyendo los Distritos escolares y otros centros de operación. Si la tormenta hubiera sido peor, la región estuviera lista para tomar acción.

Alan Spears, el coordinador de la oficina de Operaciones de Emergencia dice adicionalmente” Nuestro preparación es como la preparación de la comunidad personal: esperas que no necesitas botiquín de primeros auxilios, lámpara, o agua; pero cada vez que lo utilizas te sientes un poco más cómodo y la experiencia te ayuda ser mejor usuario.” Esta es la cuarta activación de Fort Bend County EOC en un ano. Spears dice adicionalmente: “Hacemos lo mejor de nuestra situación con hacer pruebas de las sistemas, hacer ajustes en procedimientos, y tratar de aprender lo más que podemos. No existe una activación que pierde el tiempo de las personas.” Lecciones aprendidas incluye la necesidad de equipo adicional y mejores formas de organizar información de contactos.

Lo más alto de intensidad de lluvia medido en el Centro de Operación de Emergencia fue solamente 1.1 pulgadas por hora, y el total de lluvia caída fue .17” en 307 Fort St. en Richmond, TX. El Centro de Operación de Emergencia sigue monitoreando las condiciones de clima durante el periodo del día, y urge a los que viajan tomar precaución cuando manejan en las carreteras mojadas, especialmente cuando esperamos lluvia durante el día. Asegura de monitorear los canales locales, el Centro de Operación de Emergencia en la red, y el National Weather Service para más información durante el día.

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Fort Bend County is located in the Texas Southeast, immediately South and West of Harris County and the city of Houston. It is the home of over 600,000 people and is one of the fastest growing counties in the United States. For more information about Fort Bend County, visit the county homepage at http://www.fortbendcountytx.gov.

The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) was established to protect the residents and property of Fort Bend County from damage relating to disasters. The OEM accomplishes this through effective planning, preparation, response, and recovery. For more information about the Fort Bend County OEM, visit the OEM homepage at http://www.fbcoem.org.

El Condado de Fort Bend está situado en Texas Suroeste, inmediatamente al Sur y al Oeste del Condado de Harris y la ciudad de Houston. En cuál es el hogar de más de 600,000 y es uno de los condados de más rápido crecimiento en los Estados Unidos. Para más información del Condado de Fort Bend por favor de visitar http://fortbendcountytx.gov.

El Centro de Operaciones de Emergencia  (EMO) se establecio para protégé los recidentes y propiedad del Condado de Fort Bend daños relacionados con desastres. El OEM logra esto a través de una planificación, preparación, respuesta y recuperación.

Para más informacion visite el Condado de Fort Bend OEM http://www.fbcoem.org.

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Posted March 8, 2016 4:48:33 PM CST

Fort Bend County officials plan for response to severe weather

Fort Bend County, TX – It has been raining and breezy today so far, but at 307 Fort Street, there is a team of professionals planning a response to the potential severe storms sweeping across the county tonight and this morning.

“This is a highly-variable weather incident with a chance of serious impact to the county, particularly late tonight and early tomorrow morning.” Says Jeff Braun, Emergency Management Coordinator for Fort Bend County “We don’t want people to get the impression from the gentle wind and rain we have right now that the storm is somehow not going to impact us, since there is a high probability that it will affect us significantly.”

A line of severe storms is expected to come through the region this evening, with severe rainfall and the possibility for flash flooding, damaging wind, hail, and even tornadoes. Rain between 6-8 inches is nothing new for our part of the country, but the rate of rainfall is what could be remarkable here with significant rainfall happening suddenly. In addition to a high rate of rain, some areas will see total rainfall closer to 12 inches, which can overwhelm drainage systems and cause localized flooding. With the possibility for tornadoes and high winds, residents and visitors of Fort Bend County are encouraged to closely monitor the situation, and stay tuned to the National Weather Service and local media for more information, in addition to the Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management website.

Fort Bend County should see the worst weather starting after midnight tonight, and continuing throughout the morning on Wednesday. For most of the county, the impacts of this storm will be felt on Wednesday morning when it is time to go to work or school.

“The difficulty here is in measuring personal preparedness for an incident that will be unfolding while most people are asleep.” Adds Alan Spears, Deputy Emergency Management Coordinator. “A National Weather Service weather radio can be helpful for staying abreast of conditions, but weather alerts can be overwhelming in a quickly-changing incident like this.”

Should the rain and wind affect the area as anticipated, there could be a real mess on the roads tomorrow morning when Fort Bend County goes to work and school. It is important to check the local media and road conditions before deciding to commute tomorrow morning. Standing water on the road can stall your vehicle, strand you for hours, and destroy your vehicle. Moving water, even a small amount, can capsize or sweep away your vehicle and drown you inside. Your safety is important, and a little caution and a little planning can save your life.

The Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management will be posting information about road closures on the Fort Bend County Road Closures page. Social Media sites, like Twitter, Facebook, and Waze can also be great ways to find out about road closures and impacts, as can the local media.

“Road conditions in the early morning can change dramatically, even on the clearest of days,” says Braun, “with the kind of weather we have forecast for tonight and tomorrow morning, what the roads will be like is anybody’s guess. We want to encourage travelers to use an abundance of caution when driving tomorrow morning, and tune to AM Alert 1670 for hazard information.”

The Fort Bend County Office of Emergency Management will be staffing a Joint Information Center overnight, and will be updating the Office of Emergency Management website as conditions develop.

Fort Bend County is located in the Texas Southeast, immediately South and West of Harris County and the city of Houston. It is the home of over 600,000 people and is one of the fastest growing counties in the United States. For more information about Fort Bend County, visit the county homepage at http://www.fortbendcountytx.gov.

The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) was established to protect the residents and property of Fort Bend County from damage relating to disasters. The OEM accomplishes this through effective planning, preparation, response, and recovery. For more information about the Fort Bend County OEM, visit the OEM homepage at http://www.fbcoem.org.

El Condado de Fort Bend está situado en Texas Suroeste, inmediatamente al Sur y al Oeste del Condado de Harris y la ciudad de Houston. En cuál es el hogar de más de 600,000 y es uno de los condados de más rápido crecimiento en los Estados Unidos. Para más información del Condado de Fort Bend por favor de visitar http://fortbendcountytx.gov.

El Centro de Operaciones de Emergencia  (EMO) se establecio para protégé los recidentes y propiedad del Condado de Fort Bend daños relacionados con desastres. El OEM logra esto a través de una planificación, preparación, respuesta y recuperación.

Para más informacion visite el Condado de Fort Bend OEM http://www.fbcoem.org.

Fort Bend CountyPosted March 8, 2016 10:00:32 AM CST

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
PARA PUBLICACION INMEDIATA

The National Weather Service in Houston/Galveston has issued a Flash Flood Watch for Fort Bend County from noon Tuesday through Wednesday afternoon. Periods of showers and thunderstorms associated with a slow moving storm system should move across Southeast Texas Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon. The heaviest rains may come Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.

The National Weather Service expects widespread rainfall amounts of 3 to 7 inches with locally higher amounts possibly approaching 10 to 12 inches.

Flash flooding of low-lying locations is possible, especially in urban areas with poor drainage or rural roads. Flooding of streams, creeks, and bayous is likely through Wednesday. Heavy rainfall may cause significant travel impacts during the Wednesday morning commute.

Precautionary/Preparedness Actions

A flash flood watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Flash flooding is a very dangerous situation.

Fort Bend County visitors and residents should monitor later forecasts and be prepared to take action the National Weather Service issue subsequent Flash Flood Warnings.

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harris-alertsMarch 7, 2016

What is the danger?
Storms passing through Harris County beginning Tuesday afternoon could bring the threat of tornadoes and high winds. Heavy rainfall will also be a factor with most of the area receiving 3-4 inches of precipitation and isolated areas receiving 6-8 inches. Rainfall in these amounts will cause street flooding.
What you need to do:
Residents are urged to monitor local media and the National Weather Service (NWS) forecasts over the next several days for weather information. In the event of severe weather, particularly tornadoes, warnings may be issued with only a short period to take protective actions.
The NWS Storm Prediction Center provides these excellent tornado safety tips:
• In a house with no basement, a dorm, or an apartment: Avoid windows. Go to the lowest floor, small center room (like a bathroom or closet), under a stairwell, or in an interior hallway with no windows. Crouch as low as possible to the floor, facing down; and cover your head with your hands. A bath tub may offer a shell of partial protection. Even in an interior room, you should cover yourself with some sort of thick padding (mattress, blankets, etc.), to protect against falling debris in case the roof and ceiling fail. A helmet can offer some protection against head injury.
• In an office building, hospital, nursing home or skyscraper: Go directly to an enclosed, windowless area in the center of the building — away from glass and on the lowest floor possible. Then, crouch down and cover your head. Interior stairwells are usually good places to take shelter, and if not crowded, allow you to get to a lower level quickly. Stay off the elevators; you could be trapped in them if the power is lost.
• In a mobile home: Get out! Even if your home is tied down, it is not as safe as an underground shelter or permanent, sturdy building. Go to one of those shelters, or to a nearby permanent structure, using your tornado evacuation plan. Most tornadoes can destroy even tied-down mobile homes; and it is best not to play the low odds that yours will make it. This mobile-home safety video from the State of Missouri may be useful in developing your plan.
• At school: Follow the drill! Go to the interior hall or windowless room in an orderly way as you are told. Crouch low, head down, and protect the back of your head with your arms. Stay away from windows and large open rooms like gyms and auditoriums.
• In a car or truck: Vehicles are extremely risky in a tornado. There is no safe option when caught in a tornado in a car, just slightly less-dangerous ones. If the tornado is visible, far away, and the traffic is light, you may be able to drive out of its path by moving at right angles to the tornado. Seek shelter in a sturdy building, or underground if possible. If you are caught by extreme winds or flying debris, park the car as quickly and safely as possible — out of the traffic lanes. Stay in the car with the seat belt on. Put your head down below the windows; cover your head with your hands and a blanket, coat, or other cushion if possible. If you can safely get noticeably lower than the level of the roadway, leave your car and lie in that area, covering your head with your hands. Avoid seeking shelter under bridges, which can create deadly traffic hazards while offering little protection against flying debris.
• In the open outdoors: If possible, seek shelter in a sturdy building. If not, lie flat and face-down on low ground, protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away from trees and cars as you can; they may be blown onto you in a tornado.
More tornado safety information is available here.
In the event of road flooding, the most important thing to remember is Turn Around, Don’t Drown! More deaths occur due to flooding than any other hazard and most of those occur when motorists ignore warnings and attempt to drive through flooded roadways. Additional flood safety information available here.
Where you can learn more:
Forecasts: National Weather Service
Local Traffic: Houston TranStar
Preparedness & Emergency Information: www.readyharris.org

www.readyharris.org

For more information visit the Regional Joint Information Center website at www.readyharris.org

TexasUniv_NewLogoQ: Why do some clouds seem to have striped patterns?

A: Clouds that form in long linear stripes are fairly common, and they are formed by a phenomena known as gravity waves, explains Brent McRoberts of Texas A&M’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences. “Air generally flows along a horizontal path, but sometimes imbalances in the density of the air cause it to oscillate up and down as it moves along,” he notes. “In striped cloud patterns, the air is flowing perpendicular to the cloud lines. When the air is moving up, the moisture within it condenses, and while the air is descending, the moisture evaporates leading to clear skies. Not all gravity waves, however, lead to these striped cloud patterns. If the air is very moist, there will be full ripple clouds with no clear sky slots in between, and if the air is too dry, there will be no clouds at all. But in all cases, the air is moving in a wavelike pattern.”

Q: What can gravity waves tell us about the weather?

A: Not much, McRoberts adds, because gravity waves can form during fair and stormy conditions. “Most often, they form in the wakes behind mountaintops, but they can also form from daytime heating or from lifting along storm fronts,”  he  says. “These gravity waves are like ripples that form when you drop a pebble into a stream. A small disturbance will cause the air to ripple, but eventually the large-scale flow of the atmosphere will overpower and diminish the small-scale waves. Weather prediction computer models deal with a balanced atmosphere, so they have special equations that filter out the observed deviations caused by gravity waves that would otherwise lead to a chaotic forecast.”

TexasUniv_NewLogoQ:  You hear a lot about El Niño and La Niña. What’s the difference?

A: The main difference between the two involves water temperature, explains Brent McRoberts at Texas A&M University.  El Niño and La Niña – Spanish for “the child” – both occur in the central Pacific Ocean.  “During an El Niño event, which can last almost a year, the waters in that region are warmer than usual,” he says. “The opposite occurs during a La Niña – the waters tend to be cooler than usual.  But the important thing is that both events can affect weather patterns in the United States and around the world.”

Q: How do they change our weather?

A:  In years when a La Niña occurs, there tends to be warmer and drier conditions in many areas, including Texas, McRoberts says.  “In general terms, a La Niña period means drier weather patterns for Texas. There are been numerous studies done on how El Niño and La Niña affect weather patterns, and specifically, hurricanes and their intensity. Some research indicates that the sorts of hurricanes that affect Texas are more common during La Niña periods than during a neutral or El Niño year.”

TexasUniv_NewLogoQ: You sometimes hear the term “Alberta Clipper.” What is it?

A: An Alberta Clipper is a winter storm that forms over regions of Canada near the province of Alberta and sweeps in a southeastern direction over the northern United States, says Brent McRoberts of Texas A&M University. “It is believed the name comes from the big sailing ships of the 1800s, the ones with the huge sails that could travel quite quickly for vessels of that time period and were among the fastest ships on the seas. An Alberta Clipper storm moves quickly once it forms and brings cold temperatures, strong winds, and snowfall to the northern Great Plains and Great Lakes regions,” McRoberts explains.

Q: Are the storms considered blizzards?

A: No, says McRoberts. “An Alberta Clipper usually has very cold temperatures and gusty winds, but because of its quick movement, tends to produce small snow totals,” McRoberts explains. “If snow does occur, it’s usually just a light dusting to a few inches. However, if a Clipper moves over the Great Lakes region, it can produce lake-effect snowfall in those areas that are on the downwind of a lake. But generally, an Alberta Clipper produces gusty winds and very cold air over the areas in moves into and very rarely is categorized as a blizzard.”