Hurricanes and Mental Health

Research shows that mental illnesses are common in the United States, with nearly one in five adults living with a mental illness. Extreme weather events can impacts mental health in several ways, both in immediate anxiety-related responses, as well as chronic mental health disorders. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD; a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically occurring in the winter months) leads to insomnia, anxiety, and agitation. Flooding and prolonged droughts have been associated with with elevated levels of anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD). Tropical cyclones are no exception and can wreak havoc beyond the images of flattened buildings, uprooted trees, and flooded streets that take over news coverage.

A home in Gulfport, Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina. Courtesy NWS New Orleans/Baton Rouge.
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Summertime Safety

Hey y’all, happy Thursday! Tomorrow is the first day of May, and although summer doesn’t technically begin until June 20, it already feels like summer in my soul – and my backyard (hello Alabama warmth, I’ve missed you!) As we embark on the warmest time of year, I thought it might be a good time to refresh ourselves on summer safety tips as we plan for those backyard barbecues, beach and lake days, and more time spent outdoors in general!

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Preparedness in Times of Uncertainty

What a week it has been! At this time last week, I was driving down to Rockland County, New York on the first absolutely beautiful spring day we’ve had, expecting to appear at a trial later that day. My student intern and I were having a great conversation, and the drive was smooth and uneventful. As events turned out, I found myself (and my intern) driving back down to Rockland County on Wednesday. By the time we were on our way home, life as we knew it was quickly beginning to unravel. Her college made the move to online classes for the remainder of the semester, and in the coming days everything else quickly followed with closures and cancellations coming too fast to keep up with.

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March Madness – And We Aren’t Talking Basketball

NCAA March Madness officially runs from March 17 through April 7 this year, but that’s not what this blog is about! March is here, spring is just around the corner, and we are entering one of the wildest months for weather. As one of the “shoulder” or transition months between winter and spring, March is known for a smorgasbord of wild weather events. Extreme cold? Check. Extreme heat? Check. Blizzards? Check. Tornadoes? Check. Flooding? Check. Let’s take a look back at some of the most historical weather events that have occurred in the third month of the year.

The National Weather Service in Cheyenne’s parking Lot in the thick of a blizzard in March 2019. Photo by NWS MIC Jeff Garmon.
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Fog: A Ground and Air Transportation Hazard

Even if you are not a basketball fan, you no doubt heard the news of the passing of LA Laker legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna, and 7 other people in a helicopter crash in southern California last week. The tragic news sent shock waves across the nation. As the parent of a teenage daughter who is a basketball player nearly year-round, I found this tragedy personally very difficult to process, especially upon learning that there were teammates, coaches, and parents who were scheduled to play a game that day on the doomed flight. The children, families, and coaches left behind will be dealing with this loss for a long time to come. As I sat down to write this blog post today, I was going to write on an entirely different topic, but given the thoughts in my mind, I thought it would be timely to use the opportunity to talk a bit about the hazard that fog presents to both ground and aviation travel.

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Credentials of a Meteorologist

If you do a simple Google search, it can be overwhelming to find a reliable source from which to receive your weather forecasts. Many people on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media outlets often pose themselves as meteorologists and offer analysis, opinions and forecasts when in reality they may not have the credentials to rightly do so. At best, this is unethical and misleading, at worst, it can result in people making poor decisions based upon misinformation.

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Tornado Preparedness? In December? Yep!

Hi friends. For those who might not be aware, the STM team is actually now based in two different areas – the Northeast, where we were founded, and the Southeast, where one of our team members now lives! Unsurprisingly, we now deal with very different weather-related issues. For example, at the time of this writing, I know that those of you living in New York are dealing with a winter storm all day today (December 17). On the other hand, yesterday I was able to go for a run in a tank top because the high temperature in my town was 75 degrees! Unfortunately, no location is perfect, and the southeast is known for it’s secondary severe weather season beginning in the late fall, sometimes lasting through early winter. In fact, on December 16, 2000, a powerful EF-4 tornado tore through Tuscaloosa County, killing 11 and injuring over 100. The tornado was on the ground for 18 miles, all within Tuscaloosa County. The tornado path was estimated to be 750 yards wide at its maximum intensity. Although the warnings were excellent for this tornado, the public perception still wasn’t where it should be.

Damage to houses from the December 16, 2000 tornado.
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Winter Weather Preparedness

This week has been designated as Winter Weather Awareness Week in New York, and several other states across the country. Some states, such as Colorado, have already had their campaign for winter weather, while other states – such as Alabama, have a few weeks to go before their campaign kicks off. However, this is a great refresher for anyone to prepare for the upcoming season!

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Turn Around, Don’t Drown

This is it. We are in the peak of hurricane season. So far, we have had 12 named storms. We all know to prepare for and be wary of strong hurricanes, but even “weak” tropical systems can wreak just as much havoc. It’s important to remember that a tropical system’s strength is categorized solely by wind speed, but that flooding associated with a system (regardless of winds) can cause catastrophic impacts as well.

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Fall Weather Safety

At the time of this writing, I am enjoying a beautiful train ride along the Hudson River between New York City and Albany. Although the sun is shining and temperatures are in the 70s, some early hints of fall color are showing up on the Catskills to the west. Fall typically is not a time when most of us have ‘hazardous weather’ on our minds, especially here in the northeast U.S. where fall can be one of the most idyllic times of year. However, weather hazards can present themselves in any season, and fall is no exception.

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