Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: Tropical Storm Gonzalo Forms in the Atlantic
EDM Wednesday Briefing: Tropical Storm Gonzalo Forms in the Atlantic

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Tropical Storm Gonzalo Forms in the Atlantic

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for July 22, 2020: Tropical Storm Gonzalo has now formed in the Atlantic Ocean; two firefighters have been injured in a wildfire in California; recovery workers are closer to retrieving the remains of two people killed after the collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel; firefighters in Utah now battling 11 fires after a weekend that saw the ignition of at least 33 wildfires; the NWS issued Air Quality Alerts for several counties and locations in California on Tuesday due to wildfire smoke; a CalFire update shows the Mineral Fire is now 75 percent contained; officials caution residents of the Northwest about fire weather dangers that exist through the end of the week; and residents living in wildfire-prone locations are being encouraged to attend a free virtual workshop regarding home hardening and the creation of defensible space to help reduce the risk of home fires.

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1) Tropical Storm Gonzalo has now formed in the Atlantic Ocean between Africa and the Lesser Antilles. Identified as Tropical Depression 7 late Tuesday, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) upgraded the storm Wednesday morning. The storm has maximum sustained winds of 45 mph, with a central pressure of 1003, or 29.62 inches of mercury. It is forecast to track near the Leeward Islands as early as Saturday.

2) Two wildfires burning in Lassen County, California, have consumed more than 12,500 acres and reduced air quality in valley locations near the fires. The Hog Fire prompted evacuations and closed nearby highways, as firefighters struggled to fight the fire amid Red Flag Warning conditions that included shifting winds, low moisture, and thunderstorm activity. The Gold Fire, which ignited on Monday, quickly grew to more than 4,500 acres. It has injured two firefighters, whose conditions remain unknown.

3) It has been nearly 10 months since the collapse of the Hard Rock Hotel that was under construction in New Orleans, Louisiana. The bodies of two people remain buried in the rubble of the collapsed hotel due to the dangerous instability of the remaining structure. According to recovery officials, workers should reach one of the two victims by the end of the week and the other by the end of the month.

4) Firefighters in Utah are fighting nearly a dozen wildfires that continue to burn after a weekend that saw the start of 33 new fires. The majority of the wildfires that ignited over the weekend were human-caused, but two more fires ignited Monday, the Strawberry Fire — believed to be caused by lighting — and the Dennis Hill Fire. The Dennis Hill Fire, the cause of which remains under investigation, quickly scorched 3,000 acres due to wind speeds of 20 mph, grew to nearly 4,000 acres by Tuesday, and was about 30 percent contained.

5) The National Weather Service (NWS) issued Air Quality Alerts for several counties in California on Tuesday. The majority of the San Joaquin Valley was under an alert due to the Mineral Fire, burning in Fresno County, near Coalinga. Thick, heavy smoke from nearby wildfires that ignited on Monday also led to a dense smoke advisory for Lassen County, along with parts of Plumas and Sierra Counties.

6) The wildfire burning just west of Coalinga, in Fresno County, California, is now 75 percent contained. According to a recent update from CalFire, the Mineral Fire has consumed a total of 29,667 acres, destroyed seven structures, and is being fought by 1,226 personnel with the support of three helicopters and heavy equipment on the ground. The cause of the wildfire, which began eight days ago, remains under investigation.

7) In an attempt to prevent wildfires in the Northwest, residents are being cautioned about weather, including lightning and other conditions, that could start wildfires. According to reports, conditions are most favorable for wildfires in central and eastern Oregon, due to lightning impacts. In the southern portions of these areas, a fire weather watch has been issued due to forecast gusty high winds for locations of the eastern Gorge, from the Dalles and streaming north toward Washington State, along the river.

8) Wildfire season is underway in many of the western United States, and fire officials are asking residents to ensure their homes have been hardened to help prevent the spread of fire. In an effort to help residents know how to create defensible space and harden their homes, a free virtual workshop is being made available on July 28 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., but attendees must pre-register. The virtual workshop, provided by the University of Nevada, California Cooperative Extensions and CalFire, will cover the critical importance of home hardening and defensible space and how the combined efforts reduce home fire risk by nearly 60 percent.

 

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.