Emergency and disaster management briefing for May 4, 2020: Wildfire mitigation efforts by homeowners helps increase wildfire survivability; heavy rains and thunderstorms led to widespread flooding and massive landslides in Kenya; weather may increase the risk for wildfires across California by the end of the week; with the start of hurricane season just one week away, officials are urging family preparedness; Hawaii may be facing an increased risk to critical infrastructure from rising tidal waters; major earthquakes struck hours apart in Puerto Rico and Crete; as fire season rapidly approaches, fire officials urge residents to use caution at home and outdoors to help prevent wildfires; the NHC is making changes to its hurricane forecasts for the upcoming hurricane season.
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1) Wildfires can swiftly destroy a community, and efforts to suppress fires have left many communities at risk of more devastating fires in the future, especially as many homes are being built within the wildland-urban interface. The devastating impacts of a wildfire are born by the community that was affected, including economic, environmental and social costs. Essential mitigation measures will greatly increase the survivability of a home during a wildfire,effectively minimizing community impacts. These measures include careful land use planning regulating where, how and under what conditions homes may be built, managing vegetation around homes, and using fire-resistant building materials.
It's #InternationalFirefightersDay and what a time to honor them and all that they do - especially after the catastrophic #wildfires in Australia and elsewhere over the past 12 months. THANK YOU to every single person who has proudly and bravely served as a #firefighter. pic.twitter.com/w2afOVcRLD
— American Military University Disaster Crew (@AMUdisastercrew) May 4, 2020
2) Days of heavy rains and thunderstorms led to widespread flooding and massive landslides in Kenya. The death toll has surpassed 100, another 2,000 are homeless, and crops have been destroyed. Back flow from Lake Victoria also caused the River Nzoia to burst its banks, swamping homes and villages located alongside the river in western Kenya.
Flooding has submerged homes, displacing thousands after the River Nzoia broke its banks. The Kenya Red Cross says 1,800 families have been made homeless after heavy rainfall caused flooding and landslides across the region. David Doyle reports. pic.twitter.com/QC25hc0fHj
— Reuters Africa (@ReutersAfrica) May 3, 2020
3) Weather may be a factor for an increased risk of wildfires in California later this week. An area of high pressure is building across the region, bringing gusty, offshore winds, low humidity, and no chance of rain. Temperatures across Southern California are expected to reach into the eighties and nineties by the end of the week, with desert temperatures soaring into the hundreds.
Wildfires could be a concern as building heat and gusty winds set up over California later in the week:https://t.co/gRiGqSNr4U
— AccuWeather (@accuweather) May 3, 2020
4) The start of hurricane season is less than one month away, and considerations for planning will likely need to include coronavirus precautions. Officials are asking families to take time to ensure they have a plan in place for evacuations, including what they will take with them and where they will go, since shelters may not be an option to maintain social distancing. Storm surge and inland flooding are always possible, and many local officials are urging residents to know their zone and to be prepared to evacuate, if required, ahead of a hurricane.
With the threat of coronavirus still out there, Gov. Cooper said evacuation plans should include an idea to stay at a hotel or inland with friends and family as emergency shelters may not be able to maintain social distancing. https://t.co/3cPcFpZHSy
— CBS 17 (@WNCN) May 4, 2020
5) A new study suggests Hawaii may be at an increasing risk of impacts from rising tides that threaten local critical infrastructure, including groundwater. Three flood mechanisms — marine inundation, ground water inundation and reverse flow through municipal drainage systems — are likely to impact large land areas in the coming years. According to the study, groundwater inundation is the largest threat, because there is no way to stop it from occurring when tide waters rise.
“This is significant because many people think that sea level rise can be mitigated by seawalls... But a seawall will not stop groundwater inundation. Our results highlight the need to readjust our thinking.” https://t.co/xQUGJR10S0
— Anna Weber (@aweberNRDC) May 4, 2020
6) Puerto Rico and Greece were hit just hours apart on Saturday with strong earthquakes. The earthquake in Puerto Rico registered at a magnitude of 5.4, struck at a shallow depth of 5.5 miles, caused damage to homes and businesses, and interrupted power for a short time. The Greek island of Crete was hit with a 6.6 magnitude earthquake that was centered in the Mediterranean Sea and struck at a depth of 10.5 miles, although there were no reports of injuries or damages.
5.5-magnitude earthquake hits near Puerto Rico, causing damage in the city of Ponce and other southern towns. https://t.co/JdLGtUU6hB
— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 2, 2020
7) Wildfire season is quickly approaching, and there have already been days of increased fire risks due to weather conditions. Weather plays a large role in wildfires, including temperature, wind, and moisture, with wind being the most unpredictable factor in the spread of wildfires. Air temperatures, and thus ground temperatures, affect how quickly an area can spark. Radiant heat from the sun quickly dries vegetation, providing plenty of fuel to quickly spread a wildfire. As the wildfire season quickly approaches, fire officials are asking everyone to help prevent wildfires by taking extra precautions at home and while outdoors.
"One of the biggest challenges in incorporating fires into climate models is the two-way nature of the relationship between climate and wildfires. Fires affect climate, but weather and climate also influence fires." From: Firing Up Climate Models https://t.co/7cH1H5oEja @AGU_Eos pic.twitter.com/wDMxl21KC9
— CAfirescience (@CaFireScience) January 28, 2020
8) Hurricane season begins on June 1. This year, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) is implementing new forecast changes for hurricanes. The first is the storm surge inundation map, which will be included in the tropical cyclone public advisory (TCP) and can also be found on the NHC website. The NHC will also now include a 60-hour track, intensity and 34-kt and 50-kt wind radii forecasts, and the 60-hour track forecast will be included in the cone graphic. The forecasts, referenced in the TCP, will also be a part of the tropical cyclone/forecast advisory (TCM) and the TCD-tropical cyclone discussion. The new forecasts will now use local time zones for the systems in the Eastern Atlantic, helping with timing accuracy, especially for those systems approaching the Cape Verde Islands.
The 2020 Hurricane season begins on June 1st, and four aspects of how the National Hurricane Center provides forecasts will change this year. https://t.co/wD5ENOg2to
— News4JAX (@wjxt4) May 1, 2020