Absurdly powerful storms like Irma, pictured here slamming into Fort Myers, Florida, on Sept. 10, 2018, have led some to wonder if the Saffir-Simpson scale is still an adequate measure of the destructive potential of hurricanes. Spencer Platt/Getty Images When Hurricane Irma roared across the Atlantic in September 2017, it became the most powerful hurricane to form outside the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. Irma was a monster Category 5 storm with sustained winds of 185 miles (298 kilometers) per hour. Irma cut a deadly path, devastating a small string of Caribbean islands and a chunk of the Southeastern United States. As Irma pounded the region with ferocious wind, high surf and flooding rain, some scientists renewed their calls to change the Saffir-Simpson scale to account for the emergence of these so-called "super hurricanes." Scientists use the Saffir-Simpson scale as a yardstick to measure the destructive potential of hurricanes. The scale begins with Category 1, the … [Read more...] about Do We Need a Category 6 for Hurricanes?
A burned out classic car sits next to a home that was destroyed by the Carr fire on July 27, 2018 in Redding, California. To date, more than 115,000 acres have been destroyed by the flames. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images The size and scope of the Carr fire near Redding, California — officials in Northern California call it the Carr Fire Incident — are simply, to use an absolutely inadequate word, staggering. More than 115,000 acres (46,538 hectares) have been scorched in the fire that began on July 23, 2018. (It's still only 35 percent contained as we step into August.) The Carr fire is now the sixth largest in California's well-documented and unfortunately disaster-rich history. To wrap your head around exactly how much 115,000 acres is: It's more than 179 square miles (463 square kilometers); think of a square that goes out 13 miles (21 kilometers), then turns right for another 13 miles (21 kilometers). It's bigger than everything in that square. It's bigger than the … [Read more...] about California Burning: Why the Carr Wildfire Is a Whopper
Joe Raedle/Getty Images From hurricanes, to earthquakes, to tornadoes, there's no shortage of potential disasters that can ruin homes and devastate lives. Think you’re ready to survive the next disaster? Find out with our quiz. Start Quiz » You scored 0 out of 10 Question 1 of 10 Where’s the best place to hide during an earthquake? under a very sturdy table Contrary to popular belief, doorways really aren’t much safer than other areas of a modern building. If you’re stuck inside when a tremor begins, hide under a very sturdy table or similar object to protect yourself from falling debris. beneath a doorway in the bath tub Question 2 of 10 If a tornado may strike your area, what should you do regarding your home’s windows? Open all of them. Close all of them. For decades, many people believed that opening windows reduced pressure inside homes during tornadoes. But the theory doesn’t hold water, and … [Read more...] about Quiz: Are You Prepared for the Next Disaster?
Members of the South Carolina National Guard direct traffic after the government ordered all lanes leading away from the coast open to facilitate the mandatory evacuation ahead of Hurricane Florence. Joe Raedle/Getty Images When the latest storm of the century is chugging slowly toward your neighborhood and your entire life seems a good gust away from going six feet underwater, maybe the last thing you need is Big Brother telling you to get the heck out of town. This is your home, after all. That's your TV. Your car. All your stuff. Your entire existence. Fight, for many, often wins out over flight. But, truth is, when Big Brother orders you to head for higher ground, it's probably best to listen. And do it. Just in case. How Evacuations Work The decision to order an evacuation can be just as difficult for government officials to enact as it is for those who have to decide to evacuate once an order is in place. Storms are tricky, after all, and the science of predicting just how … [Read more...] about The Logistics of Evacuating Entire U.S. Coastlines
Several major roadways crumbled after the 7.0 earthquake rocked Anchorage on Nov. 30, 2018. However, most buildings stood strong. Flickr/Alaska DOT/PF At the first shudder, a few seconds after 8:29 on the morning of Nov. 30, 2018, John Thornley was sitting quietly at his desk in his office in Anchorage. This being Alaska, and Thornley being a geotechnical engineer, it was almost instantly clear to him what was happening — it was an earthquake. In that initial "ping" of realization, the question wasn't what was happening, but how big it was. Some 90 seconds or so later, when Thornley saw (from underneath his desk) that everything around him had stopped shaking — way before the questions about property damage and injuries and recovery began to creep into people's minds — his first question already was answered. That was a big one. A really big one. In Alaska, a Way of Life In Alaska in 2018, more than 48,000 earthquakes have been recorded, according to the Alaska … [Read more...] about The ‘Big One’ Was No Match for Alaskans