FEMA has coined a "Waffle House Index" to indicate the severity of a disaster.
Global news with a spatial perspective: Interesting, current supplemental materials for geography teachers and students.
Curated by Seth Dixon
FEMA has coined a "Waffle House Index" to indicate the severity of a disaster.
A proxy variable is an easily measurable variable that is used in place of a variable that cannot be measured or is difficult to measure. The proxy variable can be something that is not of any great interest itself, but has a close correlation with the variable of interest. So if you can't order waffles after a big storm at Waffle House might not matter in the big scheme of things, but as this podcast demonstrates, it is a good indicator that the region has been serious impacted by a natural disaster--they are the canary in the coal mine that FEMA is using to help plan their relief efforts. This is in part because Waffle House's core area is in the South and is has a wide spatial network.
The blizzard of 2015 blasted the region with wind-whipped snow that piled nearly 3-feet high in some places.
As of 1 p.m. Monday, Boston set a new record for snowiest seven-day period in the city's history with 34.2 inches.
Weather is one of the most tangible ways in which the physical environment impacts society. We depend on sunlight and rainfall, we adapt our behaviors to harsh conditions and we are constantly modifying the our environments by heating and cooling our buildings. This Henry David Thoreau quote reminds us to acknowledge the powerful influence of the environment and to recognize that technological fixes have their limitations. “Live in each season as it passes...and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.” --Henry David Thoreau
Question to Ponder: In what ways does the weather shape and influence culture and spatial patterns in your region? How can we make our communities more handicap accessible during winter storms and other extreme conditions?
"The signs that something’s wrong are not immediately obvious, but, once you see them, it’s hard to tune them out. Curbs at nearly the exact same spot on opposite sides of the street are popped out of alignment. Houses too young to show this kind of wear stand oddly warped, torqued out of sync with their own foundations, their once-strong frames off-kilter. This is Hollister, California, a town being broken in two slowly, relentlessly, and in real time by an effect known as 'fault creep.' A slow, surreal tide of deformation has appeared throughout the city."
Inequality isn't just about money. It's also about information. The lack of reliable data about developing countries makes things like development work and disaster relief much harder.
There is 'mapping inequality' throughout the world; poorer countries often don't have comprehensive census information and geospatial data. Crowd-sourced mapping is seeking to change and improve geographic awareness, especially in moments of crisis. For example the maps of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea were essentially blank at the beginning of the Ebola outbreak but that glaring need meant volunteers were using geographic tools to improve developmental situations by providing more information.
Maps have always been a source of fascination and intrigue. Today's maps, however, can also help to save lives during disasters, document human rights abuses and monitor elections in countries under repressive rule. This presentation will explain how today's live maps can combine crowds and clouds to drive social change.
On this Thanksgiving, I want to remind this community that geospatial skills can be used to help others. Want to see geographic knowledge and geospatial skills in action? Crowd-sourced mapping is increasingly an important resource during an emergency. Poorer places are often not as well mapped out by the commercial cartographic organizations and these are oftentimes the places that are hardest hit by natural disasters. Relief agencies depend on mapping platforms to handle the logistics of administering aid and assessing the extent of the damage and rely on these crowd-sourced data sets made by people like you and me.
|Suggested by PIRatE Lab|
A new analysis of sea levels and flood risk around the world offers more evidence that the brunt of climate change will not be borne equally.
More than a quarter of Vietnam’s residents live in areas likely to be subject to regular floods by the end of the century. Globally, eight of the 10 large countries most at risk are in Asia. These figures are the result of a new analysis of sea levels and flood risk around the world, conducted by Climate Central and based on more detailed sea-level data than has previously been available. The analysis offers more evidence that the countries emitting the most carbon aren’t necessarily the ones that will bear the brunt of climate change.
"Mount Tavurvur, on Papua New Guinea's New Britain Island, erupted on August 29, 2014, throwing ash (gray-brown areas of September image) over surrounding areas. Its last major eruption was in 1994. Tavurvur is a stratovolcano, a volcano consisting of alternating layers of lava and ash, and is located along the eastern edge of the Rabaul Volcanic Complex. Simpson Harbor forms part of the much larger (mostly submerged) Rabaul Caldera."
"This is what a pyrocumulus cloud caused by the burning of over 28,000+ acres of forest looked like as the sun set. In person as these clouds were changing it wasn't all that noticeable when the huge plumes of smoke changed shape, but thanks to the magic of a time-lapse we get to behold the violent nature of the smoke cloud, including a storm cloud that emerged behind the main pyrocumulus."
Seeing this fire essential create it's own weather system is riveting. While this scene can be seen as beautiful on the macro-scale, it is horrific on the ground where the fire ravaged physical and human landscapes alike. Here is some satellite imagery of the fire.
"What's the worst Hurricane anyone in your town remembers?""
"An 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of northern Chile, generating a local tsunami. The USGS reported the earthquake was centered 95 km (59 miles) northwest of Iquique at a depth of 20.1km (12.5 miles). This video gives the context for this type of earthquake."
I woke up this morning to news of a large earthquake in Chile (security camera video footage). IRIS (Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology) creates teaching resources for teachers who want to use the current events such as yesterday's earthquake in Chile as an opportunity to discuss earth's physical systems and how they impact humanity. They've produces slides, animations and PDFs for classroom use all while you were sleeping last night.
"Yellowstone National Park, which sits atop one of the world's largest super-volcanoes, was struck on Sunday by a magnitude 4.8 earthquake, the biggest recorded there since February 1980, but no damage or injuries were immediately reported."
The amazing geothermal activity in Yellowstone National park annually brings thousands of tourists to the region. The reason why these geysers, hot springs and fumaroles are there is because of the what is just below the surface. Watch a video (the 2 minute version or a 44 minute version) to see why this natural wonder is also a major geologic threat for earthquake and volcanic activity, which explains the reasons for this weekend's earthquake. Not to be an alarmist, but this is why some fear another major eruption soon.
The pyroclastic flow deposits red-hot material on the slope of the volcano. After a few minutes, air heated by the deposit establishes a convective regime and due to the speed of the rising air a series of small tornados are formed.
During daylight it is difficult to imaging how hot the deposit is. Click here to see a pyroclastic flow deposit glowing at night from this same location.
"This video captures some amazing footage of the 2011 tsunami in Japan."
This is an absolutely gripping video, that is equally amazing and horrifying. In Kesennuma, Japan, the 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami caused catastrophic damage, although many were able to survive on the high-rise rooftop (like the videographer). Much like a tsunami, the video starts out slow with only alarm bells, but at around the 2:20 minute mark the first sign of the small wave makes its way up the river, with onlookers unsure of the magnitude of the impending damage. The riverbanks are breached at 7:43. By 14 minutes, the debris and wreckage is massive, and the quantity of water flooding in is still growing. The last 6 minutes shows the waters receding, but the impact of the tsunami still spreads as fires spread through town. For a full documentary on the tsunami, click here. I surely hope that no one reading ever gets a closer look at what a tsunami looks like in person. This time lapse is an audiovisual representation of global seismic activity puts the Japanese tsunami into it proper context (wait for the dramatic event at the 1:45 mark).
Typhoon Haiyan was enormous and hit a 400-mile swath on the Philippines. The Philippines is a single country, but it is composed of over 7,000 islands; hundreds of islands are in need of relief aid, if not more. The islands are in an archipelago which naturally fragments the land mass and isolates the residents making transportation, utilities and communications logistically difficult even in the best of times. If the first few days after the typhoon, supply chains were cut off and many desperate people looted the sparse food resources available. The necessities to sustain life—food, water, shelter, medication and basic sanitation—are the all major concerns in the aftermath of the typhoon.
While the police are saying that order is being restored, the effects of flooding pollute water resources and increase the spread of infectious diseases because of the poor sanitation. The Philippines is gripping for an impending medical crisis from the spread of diseases in addition to the medical trauma that people suffered during the actual typhoon. Richard Brennen of the World Health Organization (WHO) believes that these geographic difficulties make the relief efforts in the Philippines more difficult than the 2010 relief efforts to help Haiti after the massive earthquake.
View interactive before and after images showing the devastation Typhoon Haiyan has caused in Tacloban City, Philippines.
While the casualty counts may have been lowered, that does not lessen the devastation.
Volunteers across the world are building the digital infrastructure for the organization's Typhoon Haiyan relief efforts
Want to see geographic knowledge and geospatial skills in action? Crowd-sourced mapping is increasingly an important resource during an emergency. Poorer places are often not as well mapped out by the commercial cartographic organizations and these are oftentimes the places that are hardest hit by natural disasters. Relief agencies depend on mapping platforms to handle the logistics of administering aid and assessing the extent of the damage and rely on these crowd-sourced data sets. Can you join in and help?
"A year after Superstorm Sandy stranded many New Yorkers without power for days, a federal judge has ruled that New York City's emergency plans violate the Americans with Disabilities Act. Those shortcomings, the judge found, leave almost 900,000 residents in danger, and many say the ruling could have implications for local governments across the country."
I have many more questions than answers after listening to this podcast. Presumably, most governmental agencies during emergencies are seeking to assist the greatest number of people with limited time and resources; would this court ruling change that mandate? How will this impact urban planning in the future? Just how much can plans in times of emergency account for assisting the disabled? Do you think the City of New York was negligent?
The news from the Philippines, where it's feared that last week’s powerful Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 10,000 people, isn’t getting better as hundreds of thousands of people struggle to survive and authorities struggle to get help to them.
"Its absolute bedlam right now," says Richard Gordon, head of the Philippine Red Cross. “There's an awful lot of casualties, a lot of people dead all over the place, a lot of destruction.”
According to the BBC, a huge international relief effort is underway, but rescue workers have struggled to reach some towns and villages cut off since the storm.
BOULDER, Colo. -- National Guard helicopters were able to survey parts of Highway 34 along the Big Thompson River Saturday. Here are some images of the destruction along the roadway.
This photo gallery would be stunningly gorgeous if it weren't horrifically terrifying. When the landscape changes this dramatically in a short time span, watch out. See another photo gallery here, but this gallery from the Boston Globe, shows a more humanistic side of the story.
"Two things that helped make this rainfall historic are breadth and duration. Colorado can get much higher rainfall rates for brief periods and over small areas."
Our thoughts are with our colleagues and friends in Colorado as they are dealing with the impact of this historic weather event. The geographic factors that contributed to this flooding are explained in this article from the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR). Some are calling this a millennial flood, as it is well past the 100-year stage of flooding. You may view the areas impacted on an ESRI storymap. and in this NASA imagery.
"170 Years of the World’s Hurricane Tracks on One Dark and Stormy Map."