humor, weather

What’s Wrong With Groundhog Day, The Movie? (H. Michael Mogil, CCM, CBM, NWA-DS*)

How many of you have seen “Groundhog Day – The Movie?” How many of you have seen it over and over again? How many of you have picked up on the myriad of meteorological and other flaws that the movie contains?

Well, my wife and I have been viewing the iconic movie for some 25 years (it was released February 12, 1993 – Fig. 01). Bill Murray (a hapless TV meteorologist), Andie McDowell (his producer) and Scooter (the groundhog) really do make some movie magic. After all, if they didn’t, why would the movie remain an annual staple?

While watching this year, however, my wife’s eagle eye flagged some potential errors in the movie, errors neither one of us had picked up on, before. Most of these were minor and could possibly be explained away by Hollywood movie-making techniques. For example, Gobbler’s Knob is not IN downtown Punxsutawney, but rather, several miles OUTSIDE. Also, the movie was filmed in Indiana because the town there was more scenic than Punxsutawney, PA. The most glaring error, however, always started the ever-repeating Groundhog Day.

As the clock radio changed to 6:00 o’clock a.m. E.S.T., and the cheerful voices of Sony and Cher graced the airways, Phil Connor awoke and raced to the window. Every day, he saw the same people walking the street below, enroute to Gobbler’s Knob. Then, after dressing, grabbing some food, meeting an incessant insurance agent (the infamous Ned Ryerson), and arriving at Gobbler’s Knob, Phil and the news team got ready to see Phil’s emergence from his “burrow.” Alas, all of the above is done in FULL DAYLIGHT. That means that sun had to rise sometime before 6:00 a.m. E.S.T. Yet, according to timeanddate.com, sunrise in Punxsutawney is at 7:25 a.m. E.S.T., with Civil Twilight beginning at 6:56 a.m. E.S.T. In short, the movie is inaccurate, but with cause. All the early morning scenes, if played in the dark, would have lost their visual effects.

This won’t be the first time that Hollywood got its science wrong. And it won’t be the last, either.

Reporting from his home away from Punxsutawney, this is H. Michael Mogil, a meteorologist with a much higher skill level than the Pennsylvania marmot and his brethren.

© 2018 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 2/5/18

* The National Weather Association Digital Seal (NWA-DS) is awarded to individuals who pass stringent meteorological testing and evaluation of written weather content. H. Michael Mogil was awarded the second such seal and is a strong advocate for its use by weather bloggers.

climate, weather

Arctic Air Arrives (H. Michael Mogil, CCM, CBM, NWA-DS*)

Apologies to my readers. In my haste to publish this pre-Christmas, I inadvertently omitted the all-important figures. They’ve now been included (1/2/18).

It’s time to kiss the autumnal warmth of the past few weeks across the Central U.S. goodbye, as arctic air arrives in the U.S. with a vengeance. For example, Minneapolis, MN has averaged 5.4 degrees above average through the 22nd of the month, with at least 6 days in double-digit warmth. That is slated for replacement with temperatures some fifteen to twenty degrees below average, including a forecast average of ZERO on Christmas Day.

Tulsa, OK offers similar testimony. After averaging some 6.7 degrees above average through the 23rd of this month (with 9 days in double-digit warmth), look for readings to tumble to some 5 degrees below average this coming week. After New Year’s, an even colder air mass could invade the Central U.S and even the southern Plains.

This transition is linked to a change in the upper level wind pattern from “zonal” (more west to east) flow to “high amplitude” (north and south) wind currents (Fig. 1 and Fig. 2). Notice, in Fig. 2, the formation of a “polar vortex” over Hudson Bay and a wind flow source region from north of the Arctic Circle.

© 2017 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 12/24/17; updated 1/2/18 (added omitted figures)

* The National Weather Association Digital Seal (NWA-DS) is awarded to individuals who pass stringent meteorological testing and evaluation of written weather content. H. Michael Mogil was awarded the second such seal and is a strong advocate for its use by weather bloggers.

communication, education, geography, observations, psychology, social sciences, weather

Time To Participate in a Weather Survey? (H. Michael Mogil, CCM, CBM, NWA-DS*)

Matt Bolton (my intern graduate and now professional colleague) and I have been discussing, for years, public understanding of weather. The discussion grew out of our hurricane and other research efforts, pre-college-level weather camp programs, and interactions with social scientists at professional weather conferences.

Matt, now a senior at St. Leo University is majoring in psychology and working hard to link social and psychological sciences with the weather sphere.

Toward this end, Matt has just posted a survey (Fig. 1) to further his research into the public’s weather understanding and I’m trying to help him get visibility for this survey. He’d like to have a thousand people or more participate. So, please feel free to take the survey and then share the link to this article (or to the survey directly) with friends, family, colleagues, and others via e-mail, social media and/or other modes. Note that there are no right or wrong answers. Matt would simply appreciate honest answers to the questions.

Anyone 18 years of age or older, living anywhere in the United States, can complete the survey. People with both high and low weather interests are invited to participate.

Here’s the link to the survey (and to a further discussion of the survey’s purpose).  The survey should take about 20 minutes to complete. In advance, on behalf of Matt, I thank you for your involvement.

© 2017 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 12/21/17

* The National Weather Association Digital Seal (NWA-DS) is awarded to individuals who pass stringent meteorological testing and evaluation of written weather content. H. Michael Mogil was awarded the second such seal and is a strong advocate for its use by weather bloggers.

climate, geography, weather

Southwest Florida Temperatures Dip Below 70 Degrees (H. Michael Mogil, CCM, CBM, NWA-DS*)

Temperatures and dew points across southwest Florida finally dipped below 70 degrees Fahrenheit (F), yesterday morning (Oct. 25, 2017); this is a sure sign that the area has finally entered the autumn season. The last 70-degree temperature reading at Naples Municipal Airport (call sign APF), that did not involve cooler thunderstorm outflow winds, was back on May 11 of this year. Similar comparisons can be found across southwest Florida.

The dew point drop was almost more spectacular than that of the temperature (Fig. 1). The dew point stood at 74 degrees around 9:00 p.m. last evening (Oct. 24, 2017); by 11:00 a.m. E.D.T. (Oct. 25, 2017), a scant 14-hour period, the dew point had dropped to 45 degrees (a drop of almost 30 degrees)! Dew point temperatures that low are much more typical during later in autumn and during winter.

 

Southwest Florida’s annual seasonal march of temperature and dew point is easily shown within this Köppen climate classification system map (Fig. 2). Southwest Florida is firmly in the Aw category, a tropical wet-dry climate region characterized by high-sun angle rains and low-sun angle dryness. The framework was devised by Wladimir Köppen, a German botanist-climatologist in the late 1800’s and was continually re-examined and revised until his death, around the start of World War II. The basis of his classification system involved climatic boundaries that matched those of various vegetation zones (biomes). This is, of course, tied directly to temperature and precipitation transitions, the two main natural drivers of plant survival.

According to Dr. Troy Kimmel, a professor at the University of Texas – Austin, an Aw climate defines a savanna, a location that “has an average monthly temperature of 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit or greater and more than two dry months (monthly precipitation below 2.40 inches).”

This doesn’t mean that warm, humid and/or rainy weather won’t return to southwest Florida during the next few months. However, it does signify that time of year when cold fronts reach and pass by southwest Florida. Both of these (warmer, more humid, rainy weather and the passage of yet another cold front) are on tap for the upcoming Saturday-Tuesday period.

In honor of this transition, I opened my house yesterday morning and gave my air-conditioner a much-needed, even if temporary, respite. My checkbook is already heaving a sign of relief.

© 2017 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 10/26/17

* The National Weather Association Digital Seal (NWA-DS) is awarded to individuals who pass stringent meteorological testing and evaluation of written weather content. H. Michael Mogil was awarded the second such seal and is a strong advocate for its use by weather bloggers.

weather

Ophelia Racing Toward The U. K. (H. Michael Mogil, CCM, CBM, NWA-DS*)

While the remnants of hurricanes occasionally affect the British Isles, Hurricane Ophelia is going to be much stronger than the average United Kingdom (U.K.) storm. As of early this Sunday morning, Ophelia, still a category 2 hurricane (Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale), was forecast to become extra-tropical before land-falling in Ireland on Monday. Still, Ophelia, with a large storm force wind field (winds 39 to 73 miles per hour), will affect much of the U.K. and Ireland during the next two days, regardless of its actual path (Fig. 1). In fact, strong winds and heavy rains will be arriving well in advance of the storm.

Ophelia remains a well-formed hurricane (Fig 2), even though it is over fairly chilly northeast Atlantic waters. Its interaction with an approaching upper level trough from the west and the trough’s associated strong upper-level jet stream winds are both helping to accelerate the storm to the northeast (moving at 35 miles per hour) and transform it to an extra-tropical storm. Extra-tropical storms can have hurricane-force winds, but lack a warm central region and an eye wall with concentrated high-speed winds. Instead, extra-tropical storms (such as winter storms) have larger regions covered by high winds.

Ophelia is likely to cause considerable tree damage and produce widespread power outages, especially near and just to the east of the storm’s center. Storm surge and pounding waves can be expected along south-facing coasts (ahead of the storm) and west-facing Atlantic coasts (in the wake of the storm). Much of the U.K. will see lesser effects of the storm.

© 2017 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 10/15/17

* The National Weather Association Digital Seal (NWA-DS) is awarded to individuals who pass stringent meteorological testing and evaluation of written weather content. H. Michael Mogil was awarded the second such seal and is a strong advocate for its use by weather bloggers.

weather, weather safety/preparedness

Nate Targeting Louisiana-Northwest Florida Coast (H. Michael Mogil, CCM, CBM, NWA-DS*)

Hurricane Nate is nearing peak intensity (strong Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 90 miles per hour) as it races toward landfall on the Mississippi-Alabama coast tonight (Fig. 1). However, with the strongest winds and the greatest push of water toward the coast on its eastern flank, places from extreme eastern Louisiana to northwest Florida stand to take the greatest beating.

At 4:00 p.m. C.D.T., pm, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) had posted a hurricane warning from Grand Isle Louisiana to the Alabama/Florida border, Metropolitan New Orleans, and parts of the Lake Pontchartrain shoreline. NHC has also posted storm surge warnings from Grand Isle, Louisiana to the Okaloosa/Walton County line in Florida (Fig. 2).

NHC expects maximum flooding of seven to 11 feet above ground level is expected in portions of southeastern Louisiana and along the Mississippi coast. A similar surge (or greater) could affect parts of Mobile Bay and the rivers that feed the Bay from the north, as well (Fig. 3). Note that surge values are for locations at or near the interface of land and water. The surge can extend across inland locations, but its depth will be tempered by how much the elevation rises. As a result, there may be significant variations of storm surge depth across small distances.

While sustained winds are expected to remain at category 1 levels as the storm makes landfall, it is the push of water onto the land, the dreaded storm surge, that is, perhaps, the most ominous part of the forecast.

Several factors are at play this evening and overnight.

First, the storm is expected to push water across coastal areas from extreme eastern Louisiana to the Florida panhandle. However, Mobile Bay, with its relatively wide Gulf opening (even with barrier islands and peninsulas offering some protection), narrows to a small region just east of Mobile, where several low-lying rivers occupy a broad flood plain. This region lies in the path of the expected surge.

Meteorologists and other scientists know that when a fluid is constrained horizontally, it must rise vertically. This means that a 10-foot coastal surge could grow many feet as it moves northward through Mobile Bay, before it reaches the city of Mobile and the rivers to the north and east of Mobile.

The fast forward speed of the storm will also enhance the push of water onto land.

And, it now appears that the storm will be making landfall close to the time of high tide (shortly after midnight C.D.T.).

Add heavy rainfall, a large area of tropical force winds well inland, and the risk for tornadoes (mainly on the eastern side of the storm’s path) and a large swath of the southeast and middle Atlantic can experience stormy conditions during the next 48 hours.

There are numerous web sites, TV station meteorologists and NWS forecasters that have been sharing (and are continuing to share) needed weather safety information in the face of this tropical onslaught. If anyone reading this article is located in high or moderate risk areas associated with this storm, your window of opportunity to take action is rapidly narrowing. Get to a safe place (above expected storm surge levels) quickly.

© 2017 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 10/7/17

* The National Weather Association Digital Seal (NWA-DS) is awarded to individuals who pass stringent meteorological testing and evaluation of written weather content. H. Michael Mogil was awarded the second such seal and is a strong advocate for its use by weather bloggers.

climate change, education, mathematics, weather

On Misrepresenting Hurricane Statistics (H. Michael Mogil, CCM, CBM, NWA-DS*)

There’s data and there’s statistics. There’s also the misrepresentation of these.

We all know that statistics themselves don’t lie, but the people who use statistics may intentionally or unintentionally do so. A Tweet late yesterday by Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) was the most recent example to catch my eye. With the Atlantic Ocean region bustling with intense hurricanes at this time, it would be easy for some people to draw an incorrect conclusion from Holthaus’ data (Fig. 1) – i.e., that intense hurricane activity is escalating. But that’s not necessarily what is happening.

While Holthaus’ initial post was misleading (and implied that NOAA data supported the trend line), it is important to recognize that the hurdat (hurricane data) values are the “best” historical hurricane data that scientists may have. However, hurdat contains known errors and omissions and is only as good as the observations that were used to generate the data set. Holthaus continued with additional comments and a link to the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) suggesting that climate change was either the culprit now or would soon be the culprit – “Additional context: There was likely undercounting pre-1960. We expect more Cat 5’s in the future, if not already.”

First, research conducted by some scientists (e.g., Ryan Maue, Matt Bolton, and myself) indicates that the long-term global hurricane trend is “steady” and that hurricanes are not becoming more intense. Then, one must recognize that there has been a dramatic change in global observing and forecasting systems since the mid 19th century.

In fact, it wasn’t until the latter part of the 1800’s that hurricane warning offices were established and it wasn’t until the mid 20th century before the National Hurricane Center was created. Hurricane hunter aircraft were not employed until the 1940’s and the first weather satellite didn’t arrive on the scene until 1960. Since 1960, satellite observation systems have evolved to be highly powerful, high frequency, and high resolution observing tools (Fig. 2). These satellites can now see entire ocean basins; in earlier years, point ship and island reports were all that meteorologists had available. To say that “There was likely undercounting pre-1960,” would be an understatement.

The bottom line is that the data table and reference links offered by Eric Holthaus are misleading. Such data and associated statistics need to be viewed with a consistent (or at least a clearly stated discussion of the) data and how it was obtained. Apples must be compared to apples!

© 2017 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 9/19/17

* The National Weather Association Digital Seal (NWA-DS) is awarded to individuals who pass stringent meteorological testing and evaluation of written weather content. H. Michael Mogil was awarded the second such seal and is a strong advocate for its use by weather bloggers.

consumerism, weather

Insurance Matters – Post Irma and Post Harvey (H. Michael Mogil, CCM, CBM, NWA-DS*)

During the past two weeks, I spent many hours helping Dave Elliott and his team at WGUF-FM (98.9) radio here in Collier County, FL. Stephen Johnson (control room) and Scott Fish (101.9 – Gator Country radio, simulcast with WGUF) rounded out the team.

While my focus was weather, I also did some research and reporting on preparedness and post storm recovery matters. I also listened to discussions among our team and calls from listeners. I’d like to start sharing some these here to help Irma victims (and also those in Texas affected by Harvey).

This article will address a few hurricane-related insurance matters. Before beginning, let me note that I am not an insurance adjuster or a structural engineer. The items described here are simply to get readers to think things through before they either ignore insurance or go crazy about dealing with it. Always, get professional advice before addressing any matters involving insurance.

(1) Read your insurance policy BEFORE contacting your agent (Fig. 1). If you don’t have a clue about policy coverages and exclusions, I predict that you will get frustrated quickly.

(2) Take pictures BEFORE cleanup. Make sure you show water levels and the wrack (debris) line, tree damage, roof tiles or shingles lying on your lawn (where they fell) with your house in the background of the image. These pictures can help your adjuster piece things together long after the storm’s visual impacts disappear.

(3) Call your insurance agent, but, be prepared for long wait times. Insurance companies typically have agents available to help you. However, when the number of potential claimants becomes large, agent access can become difficult. Some companies are setting up mobile customer support centers in affected communities. Check with your insurance company, if they haven’t already e-mailed you information.

(4) Find out what you can do to mitigate further damage, even before your claim is approved. Often, putting blue tarp on a roof and covering damaged windows are encouraged. Be sure that anyone you contract with is a reliable, certified and bonded contractor. In Florida, you can contact the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (850-487-1395). To report unlicensed activity, call 1-866-532-1440). In Texas, you can contact the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation or American Contractors – Texas; however, not all contractor and building licenses seem to be listed here.

(5) File a claim with FEMA for either uninsured or uninsured losses online, or by phone (800-621-3362). While the focus is on homeowners, there is a question that should direct your application to the Small Business Administration for possible small business coverage.

I filed this morning and it takes less than 20 minutes to do this online. You can also call FEMA directly to file a claim. Even if you don’t qualify for assistance, you should still file a claim.

If you have a FEMA flood insurance policy, check the policy for filing procedures.

(6) Remember that if you don’t file a claim and do things to facilitate its successful conclusion (in your favor), the answer will always be “denied.”

I hope this helps some people get a better handle on their insurance matters in the wake of these two destructive storms. I will update this article as I come across additional insurance information.

For those in disaster areas, please take care and recover safely and quickly.

For those in any area, please think about contributing to reliable and effective charities. Remember, that after the initial rush to get utilities restored, cleanup begun, properties secured, and finding water, ice and food, people will need money to put their lives back together.

© 2017 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 9/15/17

* The National Weather Association Digital Seal (NWA-DS) is awarded to individuals who pass stringent meteorological testing and evaluation of written weather content. H. Michael Mogil was awarded the second such seal and is a strong advocate for its use by weather bloggers.

 

weather, weather safety/preparedness

Dangerous Irma Targeting Naples (H. Michael Mogil, CCM, CBM, NWA-DS*)

As of late yesterday afternoon, downtown Naples, U.S. Highway 41 (Tamiami Trail), and Naples/Collier County beaches resembled a ghost town. One could drive down Gulfshore Boulevard (a thoroughfare about a block or so from the beach) and perhaps see one or two cars. Fig. 1 shows the scene sans vehicles.

It was eerie.

But there was good cause for the lack of humankind. After a week of Hurricane Irma track uncertainty across the state of Florida (the large-scale storm track was “spot on;” the details across Florida, not so), computer and human thinking centered on a track along the west coast of Florida. Now, early Saturday morning (Sept. 9, 2017), the expected storm track is actually slightly west of Naples (i.e., with the center remaining over water). This is reminiscent of Donna (which destroyed the Naples Pier in 1960) and Charley (which slammed into Punta Gorda, north of Fort Myers in 2004).

This sets the stage for a worst-case scenario for Collier and Lee Counties.

Specifically,

high winds – much of Collier and Lee Counties will be impacted by triple digit sustained winds because the eye wall will be passing directly over both counties. Wind gusts can easily reach speeds that are 20 percent higher than sustained winds. Even though Irma has weakened slightly this morning (due in part to interaction with topography across Cuba), reintensification is expected later today (once Irma leaves Cuba).

heavy rainfall – since the right side (i.e., the wet side) of the storm will be affecting the two counties, roughly eight to 12 inches of rainfall (with locally higher amounts) is anticipated. Given recent heavy rainfall and flooding, these two-day rainfall totals may help replicate the recent flooding.

tornadoes – again the right side of the storm (mainly, the leading front right quadrant) is where tornadoes are most likely to form. That storm quadrant will be passing directly over Collier and Lee counties during the day on Sunday. Fortunately, most hurricane-generated tornadoes are weak and short-lived.

storm surge – is not an instantaneous (or wall-like) rise of water. Rather, it is the relentless onslaught of waves pushing water onshore, without the corresponding opportunity for water to flow back to the ocean. As a result, water levels can rise and push far inland.

Clearly storm surge will be a major risk for many areas. With a storm center over land, Naples and Fort Myers would not receive as much of an initial surge; with a storm offshore, an initial surge from the south is likely. Under either scenario, as the storm moves north of Collier and Lee Counties, hurricane force westerly winds will push additional salt water onto land areas for a longer period of time. Expected surge values will be in the six to 12 feet range.

High tides can add to the expected storm surge. Unfortunately, the turn to westerly winds will be occurring near the time of high tide (about 4:00p.m. E.D.T. on Sunday). Note that expected surge height values do not include any waves that may occur during the time of the storm surge.

Large areas of Collier County (and lesser areas in Lee and other west coast counties) are in the high surge flood risk. The map in Fig. 2 shows at surge risk areas due to a CAT 2 hurricane. Generally speaking the highest risk areas are south and west of State Highway 41.

This is a very large and very dangerous hurricane, one that can cause extensive damage to structures, trees, power lines and signs.

Since it’s too late to evacuate the area, it’s best for local residents and visitors to take shelter in sturdy structures or county-operated storm shelters. People living in mobile homes or manufactured housing should definitely leave these well in advance of the hurricane’s arrival.

© 2017 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 9/9/17

* The National Weather Association Digital Seal (NWA-DS) is awarded to individuals who pass stringent meteorological testing and evaluation of written weather content. H. Michael Mogil was awarded the second such seal and is a strong advocate for its use by weather bloggers.

weather, weather safety/preparedness

Getting Ready For A Hurricane and more… (H. Michael Mogil, CCM, CBM, NWA-DS*)

There are plenty of “to do” lists out there addressing what to do to prepare for a hurricane, undertake during a hurricane, and address following a hurricane. Some of the more detailed lists can be found at the following web pages:

Weather Ready Nation

FEMA – Hurricane Harvey

American Red Cross

• Your local TV stations (if you are in hurricane country)

At each of these, be sure to look for sub-page links that may provide even more detailed information. FEMA’s – Hurricane Harvey web page (found under the main page “Navigation” menu bar) provides considerable tailored information specifically for Texans. Look for a similar FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) page to surface as Irma starts impacting the U.S. The Red Cross web site includes information about many topics, including how to locate loved ones who may be within a disaster area. In addition, many local TV stations distribute hurricane guides (Fig. 1), tracking charts and other informational items via local supermarkets and drug stores.

Today, I’m going to expound upon these lists a little, providing some insights as to WHY certain things are recommended. I’ll also add a few “out the eye wall” ideas. Note that no list can be totally inclusive.

Regardless of what you read or hear, hopefully, you’ll employ common sense and logic to your actions. Also, be sure you get your information from reliable sources. It’s at times like these that well-thought out plans need to be put into play. And remember that governmental and volunteer service organizations may not have the resources or the capabilities to assist you for days, maybe even weeks, after a major hurricane strike.

• If you don’t have an emergency kit, create one. It should include items that can be placed in heavy duty, sealable, freezer storage bags. Group items to facilitate finding what you may need. For example, you might have individual, labeled, plastic bags that contain medical records, medicines (may not able to refill after the storm), identification (e.g., passports, birth certificates), small denominational cash (ATM machines may not be working, if power loss occurs), cell phones and electronic appliances (sealed to keep out water) and even food and snacks (to avoid contamination with ground water). If possible, put these smaller plastic bags into larger sealable plastic bags or sealable containers.

• Although many companies (e.g., banks, credit cards, utilities) may work with you after the storm to accept late payments (without late fees), it’s just easier to make payments in advance.

• You will want to ensure that certain food items are refrigerated and/or frozen even if you lose power. One way is to ensure that temperature settings in both fridge compartments are set as low as possible BEFORE the storm strikes. If you have created frozen plastic soda or water bottles or sealable containers/freezer bags in advance, these can be used to chill the refrigerator or freezer compartments. Large chunks of ice stay colder longer than bags of individual ice cubes.

Another way is to cook some of the frozen food beforehand. It will be easier for cold hamburgers to survive, for example, than to keep ground beef frozen.

• The same chilling factor can be said for your home. Chill your home as low as possible before power is lost so you’ll have at least a slightly more comfortable environment for a longer period of time.

• Stock up on non-perishables. This includes water, crackers, nutrition/energy bars, breads, cereals, pretzels, chips, snacks, chocolate (my favorite), canned food (e.g., tuna fish), peanut butter (doesn’t require refrigeration), and even astronaut food (possibly available at a local science store). Don’t forget toilet paper, tissues, paper towels and plasticware.

• Speaking about toilet paper, be sure to fill a bathtub or two with water to help with toilet flushing.

• If you lose power and want hot water for coffee, hopefully you’ll have an accessible natural gas line or propane canister. We have a small camping stove and some small propane canisters that we plan on using in an outside location, if needed.

• If you have power banks or power sticks, be sure these are fully charged before the storm strikes. These low-cost power supplies can help power smaller appliances during power outages. Be sure your appliances are fully charged in advance, too. If you have an emergency generator (note that many condo associations don’t allow these), be sure it is charged and/or you have fuel available.

• Bring any lose or liftable objects indoors. This includes hanging or potted plants, patio furniture, trashcans and toys.

• DON’T use any type of tape to protect windows. Most tapes are not strong enough to prevent glass breakage or shattering. Even if you aren’t in a flood zone, consider the flooding potential. Move valuable or important objects, non-refrigerated or non-frozen foods, furniture and electronics to higher levels in your home.

• If you need to evacuate (either by car, mass transit or plane), consider doing this during daylight hours. It is easier to see roads, obstacles and other vehicles, especially if you wind up on local roadways. Be careful of evacuating into the projected path of the storm. You might wind up leaving a secure structure only to stay the night in a less structurally secure motel or other building (or find yourself stuck on clogged roadways).

Also, turn off gas lines, water lines and electricity before leaving.

If you can’t evacuate (or chose not to), then plan to “hunker down,” hopefully in a safe place (e.g., non-flood zone) and with neighbors or relatives. Be sure to move your car to higher ground (away from trees and power lines), if possible.

• If you are elderly, or are in a senior facility, moving out of a flood zone early is better than waiting. Several such facilities in the Houston area failed to evacuate and were flooded, putting the elderly patients at risk.

• Before the rains arrive, consider cleaning roof gutters and downspouts to facilitate the moving of water away from your home. If there are storm drains near your home, take a few moments (even it’s not your responsibility) and clean out any leaves, twigs and other debris), to enable faster drainage.

• If you have kids or pets and evacuate (and you know that pets are welcome at the evacuation center), think about bringing games, toys, books and other items that can add fun and psychological stability to the situation.

• And, just in case, think about board games, cards, and jigsaw puzzles as things to do to pass the time in a potentially non-electrical home universe. This list is long and getting longer. I will be updating it periodically, including valuable suggestions that may come from my readers. In advance, thanks for your comments and feedback.

© 2017 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 9/5/17