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

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

technology, weather

Rain temporarily leaves Southwest Florida (H. Michael Mogil, CCM, CBM, NWA-DS*)

The focus during tropical cyclone events is typically on high winds, coastal storm surge, heavy coastal and inland rainfall, and possible flooding. However, if one is located far enough away from the storm’s circulation, atmospheric processes may lead to less rainfall. Such is the case for southwest Florida during the past few days. And while rainfall didn’t vanish entirely from the southwest Florida area, it certainly dropped off dramatically.

Fig. 1 shows the upper level wind flow as determined by weather satellite and radiosonde (weather balloon) data. Computer programs can track cloud elements and compute their motion (and, hence, winds). Combining radiosonde wind and temperature data and infrared satellite cloud temperature measurements, computer programs can assign winds into specific altitude bands.

Late on Jun. 21, 2017, it is easy to see this altitudinal variation near Tropical Storm Cindy (located just offshore from the Texas-Louisiana coast). Winds shown in green show a counterclockwise (low-pressure) circulation. Mid-altitude winds are tagged to be between 20,000 feet to 25,000 feet above ground level or at pressure altitudes of 350mb to 500mb. Pressure is measured in millibars (mb) and decreases as one goes higher in the atmosphere (due to less air above).

To the north and east of Cindy’s mid-altitude circulation, higher altitude winds (shown in blue) actually spin slightly clockwise (indicating a high-pressure system). This differential circulation pattern is often found in well-developed tropical storms and hurricanes.

This upper-level circulation leads to a ridge or high-pressure system to the east of the storm’s circulation. In this high-pressure system, sinking air dominates. This is in contrast to the rising air motion (and associated clouds and precipitation) within Cindy’s circulation. Note that precipitation can still extend quite a distance from the storm’s center, but is mostly confined within the low- and mid-level counter-clockwise circulation pattern (Fig. 2). As a result of these upper and lower level circulation considerations, southwest Florida experienced less cloudiness and less shower and thunderstorm activity during the past two days.

As Cindy landfalls, weakens and moves to the northeast (see Fig. 2 – the elongated shape of the storm’s circulation is oriented in the direction of future movement), the upper ridge over Florida will slowly weaken and a more usual daytime shower and thunderstorm pattern will return to southwest Florida.

© 2017 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 6/22/17

* 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

The winds win! (H. Michael Mogil, CCM, CBM, NWA-DS*)

Today through tomorrow evening, large areas of the Nation and some nearby ocean water areas are under various types of wind warnings. From hurricane-force wind warnings in New England’s offshore waters (large-scale winter storm and intense pressure gradient) to Santa Ana (canyon-channeled) winds in southern California (Fig. 1), the winds win!

In New England, for added measure, heavy snow and bitter cold will add to the misery. Across parts of west Texas, a wintry mix will develop. In the mid-Atlantic, it’s a combination of large-scale vertical mixing (high speed winds from higher altitudes mixed down to the ground) and the effects of downslope winds.

In all of these land areas, winds will be high enough to affect the travel of high-profile vehicles and even passenger cars. Offshore from New England, waves will build to heights of more than 30 feet. As noted in National Weather Service marine warnings, “seas are given as significant wave height…which is the average height of the highest 1/3 of the waves. Individual waves may be more than twice the significant wave height.” Hence, if a 60-foot wave does form, it would take on the scope of the self-proclaimed “George Clooney Memorial Wave” in “The Perfect Storm” movie.

Winds will die down in many locales by Tuesday, as a more tranquil weather pattern establishes itself. Until then, drive safely, act cautiously, and stay in safe places.

© 2017 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 2/12/17

* 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, weather

A Significant Dixie chill (H. Michael Mogil, CCM, CBM, NWA-DS*)

 

Across the South, this Sunday morning, Jan. 8, 2017, folks were pulling out their winter clothing. Temperatures that plunged to below freezing levels across Texas and much of the Gulf Coast east to the western Florida Panhandle on Saturday morning did so again this morning. However, today, the sub-freezing chill also made it nearly as far south across Florida as a Tampa-Orlando line. Even in parts of far south Florida temperatures in the upper 30’s and lower 40’s led to highly unusual wind chill readings that dipped to near 32 degrees. It’s easy to see the expanse of the cold weather by viewing this National Weather Service (NWS) “watch-warning” map (Fig. 1). Wind chill advisories and freeze and hard freeze warnings covered the entire Gulf Coast from the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas to Naples and nearby locales in southwest Florida. In south Florida, palm trees were shivering (swaying) in the cold winds!

                             T

There are several culprits at work, here. First, a significant upper level trough (Fig. 2) has allowed northwesterly winds to drive a surface level high-pressure system southward. This high-pressure system, an unusually strong one, had a central pressure of 1043 millibars (30.80 inches of mercury) near Dallas, TX early this morning (Fig. 3). The record high-pressure reading at Dallas (records dating back to 1898) was 31.06 inches during an extreme arctic outbreak on Dec. 24, 1982. The record high pressure in Dallas during January was 31.05 inches in 1962.

As northerly winds blew south from the Plains into Texas yesterday morning, and over the entire Gulf Coast today, the trajectory involved passage over an extensive snow cover. Hence, air that would have normally passed over warmer ground did not. This allowed cold air to penetrate much further southward than expected. Early on Jan. 7, snow was observed on the ground in every one of the 48 contiguous states except Florida (Fig. 4).

In short, this has been a highly unusual, but not unprecedented, arctic outbreak.

The good news is that the high is moving to the east and warmer air is slated to return to many south and southeastern locales fairly quickly.

© 2017 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 1/8/17

* 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

THEWEATHERMOGIL:: More rain for Houston!

Following torrential and historic Houston area rainfall on Mon., Apr. 18, 2016, Houstonians will need to brace for more rain and flooding. Another thunderstorm outflow boundary (the leading edge of rain-cooled air from a cluster of thunderstorms) is enroute to Houston this morning (Fig. 1 and Fig. 2) and will likely stall to the south of the city later today. Much like the other day, this outflow boundary can serve as a focusing mechanism for new thunderstorm development and allow a track along which storms can move in a repetitive manner.Fig001-radar-HOU-160420-1411Z

Fig002-sfc-map-STX-160420-13ZAlthough, this outflow boundary seems to be much weaker than Monday’s, saturated ground and high rivers, streams and bayous have primed the area for additional flooding, even with lesser rainfall amounts.

A flash flood watch and numerous river and urban flood advisories and warnings are in effect across the greater Houston area until at least this evening.

There remains a risk for more rainfall as the week unfolds.

Driving remains hazardous in many places. Deaths from the recent flooding have mostly been linked to motorists driving their cars into flooded roadways. The National Weather Service mantra, “Turn around, don’t drown,” should be heeded by all in the Houston area.

© 2016 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 4/20/16

"Life", politics, weather

THEWEATHERMOGIL:: Super Tuesday primary weather, not so super in three states

“Super Tuesday,” perhaps the biggest single day of primary election year voting, has arrived. Twelve states have Republican primaries or caucuses; ten states have Democratic primaries (with American Samoa holding a caucus). Six of the primary states are in the Deep South, with three states (Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee) in the Southeast and three (Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas) across or near the southern Plains. As noted over a week ago, many of the southern “Super Tuesday” states are expected to experience some weather impacts – either rain and/or severe weather (Fig. 1 and Fig. 2).

What are the Super Tuesday states?

Both Democrats and Republicans: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont and Virginia.

Republicans only: Tennessee primary and Alaska caucus.

Democrats only: American Samoa caucus.

The southeastern part of the Nation will be faced with the risk of locally heavy rainfall and possibly severe storms (reminiscent in some ways of the Super Tuesday tornado outbreak of Feb. 5 – 6, 2008). Arkansas and the eastern parts of Oklahoma will have a chilly morning rain, followed by cloudy skies (Fig. 1 and Fig. 2). Texas will be warm to start, with a cool down as the day unfolds. Alabama and Georgia will see wet weather later today and tonight, as primaries wind down. Otherwise, the weather should be mostly “good,” across the remainder of today’s primary landscape territory.

After today’s primaries and caucuses, I’ll provide periodic updates during the next week or so to keep the weather in focus as additional key primaries take place. Then, look for a continued period of updates for the next three months, thanks to a spate of primaries that doesn’t end until June 14.

Regardless of your party affiliation or political beliefs, I encourage you to use your right and responsibility to vote. I will be voting in the Florida primary on Mar. 15, regardless of the weather.

© 2016 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 3/1/16

"Life", politics, weather

THEWEATHERMOGIL:: A vote for mostly nice weather

“Super Tuesday,” perhaps the biggest single day of primary election year voting, arrives in a little more than a week. Twelve states have Republican primaries or caucuses; ten states have Democratic primaries (with American Samoa holding a caucus). Six of the primary states are in the Deep South, with three states (Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee) in the Southeast and three (Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas) across or near the southern Plains. All “Super Tuesday” states are noted in the listing below.

What are the Super Tuesday states?

Both Democrats and Republicans: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont and Virginia.

Republicans only: Tennessee primary and Alaska caucus.

Democrats only: American Samoa caucus.

I singled out the states above because two areas are expected to have some weather problems that day. The Southeastern states will be faced with locally heavy rainfall and possibly severe storms (reminiscent in some ways to the Super Tuesday tornado outbreak of Feb. 5 – 6, 2008). Arkansas and the eastern parts of Texas and Oklahoma will have a chilly rain, followed by cloudy skies (Fig. 1).

NATL001-sfc-fcst-160301-18Z

Otherwise, the weather should be mostly “good,” across the Nation.

As with election predictions, outcomes are subject to updating and change. Because of the importance of these primaries and caucuses, we’ll provide periodic updates during the next week or so to keep the weather in focus. We’ll follow that with further updates for the next three months, thanks to a spate of primaries that doesn’t end until June 14.

If you live in any of these states or territories, regardless of your chosen candidate, I encourage you to use your right and responsibility to vote. I will be voting in the Florida primary on Mar. 15, regardless of the weather.

© 2016 H. Michael Mogil

Originally posted 2/21/16

weather

Heavy rain and then more heavy rain for the Central U.S.

The weather pattern has certainly transitioned. Rainfall, some locally heavy, and some significant snowfall across the western states into the High Plains, have already started to eat away at the drought across the Central Plains. Since May 4, significant precipitation has fallen across parts of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas…To read the entire feature, click here.

Originally published 5/12/15