EDM Friday Briefing: East Coast Braces for Blizzard, Emergency Declared in Many States, EPA Official Resigns
Emergency and disaster management Friday Briefing for January 22, 2016: The Washington D.C. region is bracing to take the brunt of a massive winter storm that is heading to the East Coast, multiple states in the eastern U.S. declare a state of emergency as the dangerous winter storm approaches, and a top EPA official resigns amid the Flint, MI water crisis.
- As of yesterday evening, approximately one in every four Americans was part of a major weather-related warning or watch, as blizzard watches, blizzard warnings, winter storm watches, winter storm warnings, winter weather advisories, and freezing rain advisories spotted regions from Kansas all the way to the East Coast.
- Washington D.C. is bracing for a potentially historic blizzard that is predicted to hit the area today. Winter Storm Jonas is bringing a crippling snowstorm to the East Coast and Mid-Atlantic region, and D.C. is expected to be right in its crosshairs. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency ahead of the blizzard.
- Following suit with D.C., multiple states declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the dangerous winter storm, including Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Officials are expecting whiteouts, dangerous driving conditions and possible power outages.
- Major airlines canceled and delayed flights ahead of the winter storm that could dump more than 30 inches of snow in some regions over the weekend. United, Southwest Airlines, Delta, American Airlines, JetBlue, and Frontier all made public statements regarding the cancelations and delays associated with the impending storm.
- A top Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official, the head of the Midwest region of the U.S., resigned amid the Flint water crisis. Susan Hedman, whose resignation will take effect February 1, is now the second official to resign since the water emergency came to light. Dan Wyant, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director, resigned in December as details emerged about the man-made disaster.
- Flint Mayor Karen Weaver said that 'politics and profit' perpetuated the Flint water crisis. Flint used to source its water from the Detroit system but changed to the local Flint River as its main source in April 2014. Weaver was elected in November 2015, long before events leading to the crisis occurred. Weaver spoke harshly about accountability and said that if other officials 'have to be removed, so be it.'
- As the natural gas leak crisis in Porter Ranch, CA continues on, experts estimate that the Porter Ranch leak is one of thousands of methane leaks across the nation. Some environmentalists are raising alarm, as the primary component of natural gas, methane, is said to warm the earth at 84 times the rate of carbon dioxide.
- President Barack Obama declared parts of Missouri federal disaster areas after late 2015 floods ravaged the state. Federal assistance is now available in 33 counties in the state. USDA agencies are also holding meetings this week in Missouri to explain flood recovery assistance options to farmers, landowners and local governments that have damages from recent flooding.
- Ukraine energy utilities were targeted by hackers again using techniques similar to those seen in the BlackEnergy attacks from December 2015. Ukraine officials blamed Russia for the December attacks that led to widespread blackouts in Western Ukraine.
- The recent outbreak of Zika Virus is likely to spread to the southern U.S., according to health experts. The mosquito-borne virus is especially dangerous to pregnant women, as it has been linked to birth defects. Officials are also warning that Zika Virus could be linked to a separate rate syndrome that can leave those afflicted completely paralyzed for weeks.
— NWS WPC (@NWSWPC) January 21, 2016