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Author Topic: Natural disasters/weather that plagues your state (or region) more than others  (Read 5532 times)

Zeffy

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The discussion in the "Ready for the blizzard?" topic got me thinking about how most of our regions really differ from eachother in terms of what we are used to in terms of weather events and natural disasters. So, what does your state suffer from more than other states (or regions)?

For New Jersey, we mostly have to watch out for strong storms that produce flooding, as well as always be prepared for the occasional snowstorm. For the most part, New Jersey is relatively safe from natural disasters, having very few earthquakes, not having a volcano around to erupt on us, so forth.

Of course, we aren't invincible. Super Storm Sandy really did a number on the Jersey Shore, and black ice seems to be a huge problem when it comes to Winter season as well.
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kkt

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Washington west of the Cascades: black ice, flooding in spots. Potential for tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.
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JakeFromNewEngland

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New England is known for having crazy weather. Usually in the winter is when we get a ton of blizzards. This week we had a "blizzard" hit us, but there is more snow in the forecast. We get hurricanes/tropical storms but they usually aren't very strong. The last hurricane that hit us was Sandy but it did not cause nearly as much damage as it did to the Jersey Shore. Other than that, the occasional tornado (EF0,EF1) will happen. Recently, in Eastern CT, there was a week or two where small earthquakes happened almost everyday.
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oscar

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Washington west of the Cascades: black ice, flooding in spots. Potential for tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.

And earthquakes!

Alaska has lots of earthquakes, some generating tsunamis, plus volcanic eruptions that can disrupt air traffic.

Hawaii gets whacked by tsunamis generated by earthquakes in Alaska and other places on the Pacific Rim, plus some local earthquakes and their own tsunamis on the Big Island.  The Big Island also has two active volcanoes (plus a less-active one near Kailua-Kona) and their lava flows, one of which is still hanging fire near HI 130 in Pahoa.
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adventurernumber1

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Georgia is probably your average state for weather and natural disasters. We have the usual thunderstorms (sometimes flooding). Hurricanes are rather rare, but I believe some hurricanes have indeed hit Savannah and the barrier islands in the past; in fact a lot of I-16 is used as a hurricane evacuation route (I think it's until Dublin). Georgia is at the eastern edge of Dixie Alley (or at least what I consider to be Dixie Alley), so it will get a decent amount of tornadoes but obviously not a "Tornado Alley" amount of tornadoes. Despite northwest Georgia (my region) having mountains and ridges, it is still fairly prone to getting tornadoes. That has been proved with the decent amount of tornadoes that struck the area in the April 2011 outbreak including an EF4 tornado in Ringgold. However, Dalton specifically has been pretty lucky and the last tornado in the area was in the large April 1974 outbreak (though in recent years there have been a few tornado watches and even warnings). I know of northwest Georgia having occasional small earthquakes. There was one a few years ago I remember with a magnitude of either 3 or 4 something. About every long-time local here knows of the '93 blizzard in Dalton, but other than that the mountainous region of Georgia usually just gets a little bit of snow every year.
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It was 65ºF yesterday in Seattle.  My roommate is a ski buff, and suggests we travel to New England for skiing, since it was raining the last time he went to Whistler, BC. 

A natural disaster for Seattle would be an inch of snow.  It's a hilly area that doesn't get enough snow to justify enough snow-plows to handle a decent storm.  We do have a lot of de-icers and as kkt pointed out, ice can be an issue.  Pacific storms are generally warm when they hit the region, but if we have high pressure in the winter, it's generally really cold, and if we get this dry cold air right after a normal 45º storm, we get quite a bit of black ice. 

Volcanic eruptions are obviously very rare in the region.  The last eruption was in 2008 with Mt. St. Helens, but the only notable eruption that did notable damage (in the history of the area's civilization) was in 1980.  Mt. Rainer is an honest threat to the Seattle area, not for pyroclastic flow or even ash, but lahars.  A serious lahar in the Nisqually basin can wipe out much of Pierce County. 

We get a couple Midwestern days with occasional lightning storms.  Generally the strongest events from those are maybe dime-sized hail and an EF0 tornado.  Flooding can also occur, since the watersheds are used to drizzle, not heavy downfall. 

We do get quite a few storms with heavy rain that can cause mudslides. 

Any storm with high wind (<30 MPH) is dangerous in the region due to large trees and an abundance of overhead power-lines.  Generally, it's only an issue about 3-4 times in the winter.

The biggest threat to the area is an earthquake.  Much of Washington's infrastructure isn't seismically stable compared to California, and there are plenty of fault lines in the area.  Not to mention the large one off the coast.

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tl;dr:  Mudslides, lahars, wind, the one winter storm, and an earthquake.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2015, 07:20:57 PM by KEK Inc. »
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kkt

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Yes, our winter cold weather is often still warm enough to thaw during the day, so it refreezes and makes a nice fresh skating rink every night.  Those cold weather spells can last a week or more before we get into the warmer winter pattern again.

Um.  Seasonal affective disorder.
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roadman65

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Florida is thunderstorms with ground to cloud lightning.  Being sandwiched between two large bodies of water is to be expected.
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For New York State, it's winter weather, but in a wide variety of forms. As we saw recently near Buffalo, lake effect snow can be serious, but by and large it's seldom debilitating. This week's blizzard did a number on Long Island, but blizzards per se are relatively rare, compared to the interior U.S. Nor'easters and other big snow-making coastal systems are more common, but often deliver heavy rain instead of frozen precipitation. Their flooding potential is sometimes the bigger concern, and of course we saw with Sandy how serious a problem that is for the metro area.

On the whole, though, the most damaging and widespread winter events in recent memory have been ice storms. I'd say that they, along with river flooding disasters brought on by remnants of tropical systems, are the biggest threats.

Otherwise, severe thunderstorm and tornado potential is not negligible, but by no means predominant; most damaging wind events are non-tornadic. Earthquakes are not to be discounted—the Adirondacks are historically seismic and areas to the north in Canada often produce tremors felt in the state; and they say NYC is due any day now—but have yet to cause any danger.
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Duke87

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That's the thing about New York City. The weather here is rarely "nice", but we don't get hit with the worst mother nature has to offer either - we're too far north to get whacked with a major hurricane (Sandy and Irene were both only Category 1), too close to the coast and too far south for it to really get bone-chillingly cold (the legendary polar vortex last year got us briefly into the single digits but not below zero), too far from any major faults to worry about serious earthquakes, too hilly and humid for there to be much tornado potential, and too moist to get crippling droughts.

One thing that is particularly problematic not in the city but in the suburbs to the north and east is trees. The ground on the north side of Long Island sound is very rocky and the soil has high quantities of clay in it. Because of these two factors trees often struggle to grow strong root systems and it's fairly common when there are high winds for perfectly healthy trees to get blown over. This makes power outages happen more frequently and more severely than might otherwise be typical.

And of course, as anywhere, flooding can be a problem. But it is utterly predictable where it will be a problem and one can easily choose not to live in a flood hazard zone.
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SignGeek101

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Winnipeg doesn't get too many storms of any kind, but we are susceptible to tornadoes here in the summer. Canada's worst tornado touched down in Elie, just west of the city in 2007. Snow is somewhat a concern, but we can deal with it here  :-P

Dougtone

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Washington west of the Cascades: black ice, flooding in spots. Potential for tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.

And earthquakes!

Alaska has lots of earthquakes, some generating tsunamis, plus volcanic eruptions that can disrupt air traffic.

Hawaii gets whacked by tsunamis generated by earthquakes in Alaska and other places on the Pacific Rim, plus some local earthquakes and their own tsunamis on the Big Island.  The Big Island also has two active volcanoes (plus a less-active one near Kailua-Kona) and their lava flows, one of which is still hanging fire near HI 130 in Pahoa.

I was recently reading at http://www.opb.org/news/series/unprepared/ how the Pacific Northwest is due for a major earthquake (315 years since the last major Cascadia earthquake).  A category 8 or category 9 earthquake off the coast could cause significant issues both along the coast and further inland.  Oregon isn't really well enough prepared for such a disaster from what I've read (and I don't believe Washington State is either).
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Washington west of the Cascades: black ice, flooding in spots. Potential for tsunamis and volcanic eruptions.

And earthquakes!

Alaska has lots of earthquakes, some generating tsunamis, plus volcanic eruptions that can disrupt air traffic.

Hawaii gets whacked by tsunamis generated by earthquakes in Alaska and other places on the Pacific Rim, plus some local earthquakes and their own tsunamis on the Big Island.  The Big Island also has two active volcanoes (plus a less-active one near Kailua-Kona) and their lava flows, one of which is still hanging fire near HI 130 in Pahoa.

Washington/Oregon has the potential for higher magnitude earthquakes than California - the San Andreas Fault is capable of a max 8.2. The Cascadia Subduction Zone is capable of a 9.0-9.5.
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Scott5114

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Oklahoma has tornadoes and, as of late, weak earthquakes. In general though, the distinguishing feature of Oklahoma's weather is how changeable it is—it's not uncommon in winter for a week of 30°F weather to be followed up with a week of 70° temps, followed by snow.
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empirestate

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That's the thing about New York City. The weather here is rarely "nice", but we don't get hit with the worst mother nature has to offer either - we're too far north to get whacked with a major hurricane (Sandy and Irene were both only Category 1), too close to the coast and too far south for it to really get bone-chillingly cold (the legendary polar vortex last year got us briefly into the single digits but not below zero), too far from any major faults to worry about serious earthquakes, too hilly and humid for there to be much tornado potential, and too moist to get crippling droughts.

Not to mention too far north for very prolonged or frequent heat waves, though they do happen regularly. And while there are climatological reasons why tornados are rare and weak, hilliness isn't among those factors. Many of the worst tornadoes in the country happen in the Appalachian and Ozark highlands.

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One thing that is particularly problematic not in the city but in the suburbs to the north and east is trees. The ground on the north side of Long Island sound is very rocky and the soil has high quantities of clay in it. Because of these two factors trees often struggle to grow strong root systems and it's fairly common when there are high winds for perfectly healthy trees to get blown over. This makes power outages happen more frequently and more severely than might otherwise be typical.

This is actually a problem in the city as well, in those areas where there are trees, such as my neighborhood. Every time there's even a mild thunderstorm we seem to lose a big tree or two—often across the top of a parked car—and both Sandy and the October snowstorm of 2011 caused significant damage from trees.

In our case, the reason is as much the soil as it is deferred maintenance: the trees simply aren't well enough taken care of, and are growing old. And power outages are a less common result here, because most of our lines are underground, so outages tend to be isolated to a small area on the service end of the system.
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PHLBOS

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Other than that, the occasional tornado (EF0,EF1) will happen.
An EF3 tornado hit Monson & Sturbridge, MA just a few years ago.  Wiki Write-Up for Monson, MA

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On June 1, 2011, an EF3 tornado crossed through the center of the town, causing $11.9 million in property damage, which included 238 damaged buildings, 77 of which were damaged beyond repair. Several town landmarks were damaged or destroyed: the First Church of Monson and the Unitarian Universalist Church buildings each lost their steeple, the historic 1900 Holmes Gymnasium, once part of Monson Academy, was destroyed, and the town office building, built in 1925 as the first Monson High School, was damaged beyond repair and demolished in 2013.

If one drives along Old Sturbridge Village Road and/or MA 131 (Main St.); one can clearly see where that tornado went through Sturbridge.  Note: GSV's for these areas are either not available or predate the tornado (images along 131 are dated 2010).

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algorerhythms

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That's the thing about New York City. The weather here is rarely "nice", but we don't get hit with the worst mother nature has to offer either - we're too far north to get whacked with a major hurricane (Sandy and Irene were both only Category 1), too close to the coast and too far south for it to really get bone-chillingly cold (the legendary polar vortex last year got us briefly into the single digits but not below zero), too far from any major faults to worry about serious earthquakes, too hilly and humid for there to be much tornado potential, and too moist to get crippling droughts.

Not to mention too far north for very prolonged or frequent heat waves, though they do happen regularly. And while there are climatological reasons why tornados are rare and weak, hilliness isn't among those factors. Many of the worst tornadoes in the country happen in the Appalachian and Ozark highlands.
Back in '98, I remember seeing the sky looking really weird the one day and my dad mentioning that it looked like a tornado was likely. Our neighbor overheard and gave the usual line about hills preventing tornadoes. That evening an F4 tornado hit my hometown.
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Here in the DFW area the obvious answer is tornadoes.  I'd rank severe thunderstorms higher, since they can cause nearly as much damage and cover larger areas.  I don't know if the wind or the hail is worse, but both can be destructive.  Flooding ranks high, too.  Flash flooding is common.  River flooding caused by months of rain isn't common, but it also happens.

Heat and drought are slow-motion disasters that don't get much respect, but they kill people and cause a lot of damage.  I think drought is misunderstood.  We're on the edge of a desert.  Deserts are not only dry, they also have highly variable precipitation.  A desert may get no rain for three years, and then get three years' worth of rain in one day.  The yearly average is accurate over long periods, but can be misleading during individual years.  Here at the edge of the desert, the variability isn't that severe, but what we call drought is just the dry side of normal.  Sometimes we get normal rainfall for years, sometimes we get several dry years, and sometimes we have very rainy years.  The drought monitor has had areas of "exceptional drought" somewhere in Texas almost constantly for years.  This makes me wonder if maybe it's not really that exceptional.  Long dry spells are what you should expect, broken by short rainy spells and mixed with some "normal" spells.

In a relative sense, we have winter disasters, too.  Here, a foot of snow is a disaster.  Fortunately, that's rare, but ice is fairly common.

Last would be the non-stop lava flows; we just learn to live with them.
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hbelkins

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Randy Hersh, if he was still alive, would be cheering some of these natural disasters in some states. I remember him jumping up and down (figuratively, of course, since it was in writing on MTR) with glee when the devastating tornadoes hit West Liberty and Salyersville, Ky. in 2012.
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Brian556

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quote from WxFree:
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Here in the DFW area the obvious answer is tornadoes.  I'd rank severe thunderstorms higher, since they can cause nearly as much damage and cover larger areas.  I don't know if the wind or the hail is worse, but both can be destructive.  Flooding ranks high, too.  Flash flooding is common.  River flooding caused by months of rain isn't common, but it also happens.

Heat and drought are slow-motion disasters that don't get much respect, but they kill people and cause a lot of damage.  I think drought is misunderstood.  We're on the edge of a desert.  Deserts are not only dry, they also have highly variable precipitation.  A desert may get no rain for three years, and then get three years' worth of rain in one day.  The yearly average is accurate over long periods, but can be misleading during individual years.  Here at the edge of the desert, the variability isn't that severe, but what we call drought is just the dry side of normal.  Sometimes we get normal rainfall for years, sometimes we get several dry years, and sometimes we have very rainy years.  The drought monitor has had areas of "exceptional drought" somewhere in Texas almost constantly for years.  This makes me wonder if maybe it's not really that exceptional.  Long dry spells are what you should expect, broken by short rainy spells and mixed with some "normal" spells.

In a relative sense, we have winter disasters, too.  Here, a foot of snow is a disaster.  Fortunately, that's rare, but ice is fairly common.

Last would be the non-stop lava flows; we just learn to live with them.

Here's my take on Dallas area Disasters:

Hail is by far the biggest cause of damage. Every time there is hail larger than pennies, all the roofs in the affected area have to be replaced. You see cars with really bad hail damage everywhere.

My family never had to have roof replaced due to hail from when they moved into their first house in the area in 1974 all the way up to 2008. Since 2008, our roof has been replaced three times.

Wind is sometimes an issue, but much less than hail. If your fence is in good shape, it won't be damaged.

As for tornadoes, they really are not that frequent around here. I have never even seen one.
Certain cites, such as Arlington, seem to get hit by tornadoes or strong winds more frequently than other areas.
McKinney has been hit by several tornadoes, but Denton has never been hit by one.

Drought is a big cause of damage to homes and streets. A street in my neighborhood has major waves and valleys in it, and many of the houses have major cracks due to soil movement. This problem might be exacerbated by poor subgrade preparation.

Earthquakes are a new threat to the DFW area that started in 2008. They have been clustered certain areas, and have been doing minor damage. They are most likely in some way caused by fracking, but there is a lot more to it than that. They do not occur consistently with fracking, so it appears that there are other geological aspects involved. this situation is rather concerning since geologists really don't fully understand what's going on, or have an accurate mapping of local faults. Recently there were two big ones, a 3.5, and a 3.6, in the same day at Irving. Strangely, the Irving earthquakes have been clustered around the former location of Texas Stadium.
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OCGuy81

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California.  Earthquakes.  We seldom even get out of bed for anything less than a 5. :-)
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