Home Emergency Management News EDM Friday Briefing: NWS Issues First-Ever Snow Squall Alert
EDM Friday Briefing: NWS Issues First-Ever Snow Squall Alert

EDM Friday Briefing: NWS Issues First-Ever Snow Squall Alert

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for December 20, 2019: Australian air quality remains hazardous as brush fires rage on; the Ohio Emergency Management Agency is encouraging residents to install storm shelters and apply for a rebate beginning January 6; the White Island volcanic eruption resulted in a burn mass casualty incident as doctors scrambled to treat patients effectively; Atlantic Beach, Florida, wins an award for its coastal hazard assessment addressing rising sea-level vulnerabilities; electric fire trucks may help reduce costs, prevent firefighter injuries and help clean the environment; a new tool is available to assist states' offices and agencies with NG911 implementation; an investigation is underway after a truck slammed into the baggage claim area at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport; and the NWS issued its first-ever Snow Squall Weather Alert via cell phone in Pennsylvania.

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1) Australian brush fires are smothering the nation in heavy smoke, prompting many residents in Sydney to purchase protective masks. Daytime skies over the city have regularly turned dark orange from thick, heavy smoke, and ash fall shrouds the sky as it is propelled by strong winds from fires burning nearby. The brush fires, which have been burning for weeks, have claimed eight lives so far, including two firefighters who were killed overnight. Since the fires began, they have scorched 3 million acres and destroyed at least 700 homes.

2) A rebate program offered through the Ohio Emergency Management Agency (EMA) is meant to encourage residents to install safe rooms to help families survive destructive and potentially deadly tornadoes. The rebate program is funded each year through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) Grant Program, and is designed to reimburse a family up to 75 percent of the cost of the shelter and its installation after the shelter is fully installed. According to the Ohio EMA, the agency will begin taking applications for 2020 on January 6, and the deadline to apply is April 6.

3) The eruption of the volcano on White Island off the coast of New Zealand created a burn mass casualty incident (BMCI), with at least 29 people being severely burned, a situation which doctors described as horrific. Some victims suffered burns over 90 percent of their body. The BMCI severely taxed supplies, including the need for donor skin, for which assistance was requested from the United States and Australia. Medical personnel received a total of 1,300 square feet of skin from the two countries. Doctors had to send people out to buy cling wrap -- a good temporary cover that helps relieve pain and protect wounds by preventing infection.

4) The ability to ensure resiliency in the face of disasters necessitates the ability to look forward and critically review community infrastructure and vulnerabilities through future modeling. Atlantic Beach in Duvall County, Florida, has done just that to address increasing "nuisance flooding" issues due to rising sea levels. The city has been analyzing infrastructure vulnerabilities, including stormwater drainage systems, which then led to a thorough coastal hazard assessment. The assessment  was so well done that it won a regional award from the Northeast Florida Regional Council (NEFRC).

5) Switching to electric fire engines may seem unrealistic, but a company in Austria has developed a "Concept Fire Truck," which is now on tour in California. The electric fire engine, developed by Rosenbauer, was first unveiled in 2016. Although it comes with a hefty price tag, the vehicle allegedly has two-thirds the number of parts of a Diesel truck. [link url="https://abc7news.com/society/-menlo-park-fire-district-unveils-worlds-first-all-electric-fire-engine/5748524/" title=" That will likely cut maintenance costs in half, along with reducing emissions and preventing firefighters from breathing cancer-causing exhaust fumes. Also, since most emergency calls are short-duration incidents (30 minutes or less), demand on the power supply and battery of the electric truck is expected to be minimal.

6) As agencies across the country work to transition to Next Generation 911 (NG911), assessing progress and identifying next steps can be difficult. A new NG911 Self-Assessment Tool has been developed to allow state offices, 911 authorities and emergency communication centers (ECC) identify and communicate key milestones, and understand next steps necessary to continue deployment. The NG911 Self-Assessment Tool is for office/agency use only -- no data is compiled nationwide -- and its purpose is solely to assist in identifying milestones and next steps in the implementation process.

7) Authorities are investigating after a pickup truck slammed into the baggage claim area at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport (SRQ) in Florida early Thursday morning. The truck was traveling on U.S Highway 41, when it left the road, crashed through the perimeter fence and crossed part of the tarmac. The truck slammed through a cinder-block wall, plowed through the baggage claim area and and stopped when it hit a rental car counter. The driver of the truck was the only person injured. Airport authorities noted that a single damaged baggage claim belt remained out of service; otherwise, the airport was fully operational.

8) On Thursday, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued its first-ever Snow Squall Weather Alert via cell phones in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. According to NWS officials, a snow squall is an isolated snow band that carries with it the threat of rapid snow accumulation on roadways, quickly reducing visibility -- often to less than one-quarter mile. The alert was issued via cell phone for the first time after a deadly snow squall pile-up on I-80 on Wednesday killed two, injured dozens and prompted an extended closure of 34 miles of interstate.

 

Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.