EDM Tuesday Briefing: Hurricane Preparedness, Megaquake Probability, More Fort McMurray Evacuations
Emergency and disaster management briefing for May 17, 2016: The NWS and NOAA try to increase hurricane awareness, researchers predict the chance that a mega-earthquake will hit the Aleutian Islands, more people are forced to evacuate Fort McMurray due to wildfires, California might be getting a new earthquake warning system, and officials investigate a deadly 2015 Amtrak crash.
- The National Weather Service (NWS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launched Hurricane Preparedness Week, kicking off a seven-day effort to educate the public about hurricane safety. In order to be completely ready for hurricane season, the NWS and NOAA are encouraging everyone to know their risks and to make all possible preparations, including evacuation plans.
- Researchers from the University of Hawaii at Manoa determined the likelihood that the Aleutian Islands will experience a megaquake in the next five decades. According to the study, there is a 9 percent chance that a magnitude-9.0 or greater earthquake will occur in the Aleutians within the next 50 years. The impact of an Aleutians quake of such extreme magnitude is of special significance to Hawaii, as a megaquake would likely create a mega-tsunami that would threaten the island state.
- Monday was yet another challenging day for firefighters working to contain wildfires burning large portions of Fort McMurray in Alberta, Canada. About 4,000 oil sands workers evacuated yesterday as the region suffered from what officials called a "significant" increase in the wildfire's growth. Entering yesterday, at least 94,000 people were displaced and 2,400 homes and businesses were destroyed by the massive wildfires that began earlier this month and have yet to be contained.
- California Governor Jerry Brown is seeking $10 million in state money to fund an earthquake early warning system for California that is currently being developed by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and university researchers. The system, which would be slated for limited rollout by 2018, would reportedly give as much as a minute of warning before the region being alerted would begin shaking from a big earthquake.
- The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that a 'distraction' caused the engineer to lose situational awareness in the deadly derailment of Amtrak 188 last year. According to the NTSB, the engineer in control of the train was reportedly distracted by a radio report about a rock throwing incident, which contributed to the incident. The Amtrak 188 derailment killed eight people and injured more than 200 in Philadelphia in 2015.
- The State Department issued a North Korea travel warning yesterday in which U.S. citizens were strongly urged to avoid all travel to North Korea. The travel warning was issued due to the "serious risk of arrest and long-term detention under North Korea’s system of law enforcement." The State Department also warned that those who decide to enter North Korea against the advice of the travel warning should have no expectation of privacy and could be subjected to "unduly harsh sentences," including for actions that are not considered crimes in the U.S.
- Michigan Governor Rick Snyder announced that the state of Michigan will pay Flint's water bills in May in an effort to encourage the flushing of lead from old pipes. Flint began a flushing strategy on May 1 in which officials urged city residents to run cold water at the highest flow from both their bathtub and kitchen faucet, each for five minutes a day. The flushing exercise is expected to cost the state an estimated $1.7 million, depending on participation.
- The Senate is slated to vote today on three competing plans to fund the battle against Zika virus. It has been nearly three months since the White House requested $1.9 billion in Zika funding, and talks have stalled since. Entering the vote today, many believe that bipartisan plan that cuts President Obama's $1.9 billion request to $1.1 billion has the greatest chance to advance.