Government to pursue strategies to reduce Jamaica exposure to natural disasters

Finance and Public Service Minister, Dr Nigel Clarke, has announced that the government is taking steps to ensure that the country is able to withstand the effects of natural disasters in the post-International Monetary Fund (IMF) era.

“Jamaica has done too much work and made too many sacrifices to leave us completely exposed (…) to the potential fiscal impact of natural disaster,” Clarke said.

Jamaica ended its borrowing relationship with the IMF in 2016 and entered into a precautionary Stand-by Arrangement with the multilateral that will end in 2019.

But, like the rest of the region, Jamaica is vulnerable to natural disasters and the country is often forced to find billions of dollars to recover from devastating hurricanes. This often places significant pressure on the national budget.

Read entire post Gov’t to pursue strategies to reduce Ja exposure to natural disasters | Loop
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New York City admits defrauding FEMA after Hurricane Sandy

In the days after Superstorm Sandy soaked the East Coast, New York City Department of Transportation workers cataloged the damage to the agency’s fleet of vehicles.

That information was handed over to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which would give the city enough money to replace the damaged vehicles with new ones.

Only one problem: many of those vehicles were damaged before Sandy hit.

Some hadn’t been operational in years and had been marked for salvage long before the storm. The city has agreed to reimburse the federal government $5.3 million for its false claims, according to the settlement proposed Wednesday.

Read entire post New York City Admits Defrauding FEMA Out Of Millions After Superstorm Sandy | Matthew S. Swartz | NPR

FCC to probe how wireless carriers respond to natural disasters

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday launched a review of the Wireless Resiliency Cooperative Framework, a voluntary industry commitment to “promote resilient wireless communications and situational awareness during disasters.”

The review comes after deadly storms this hurricane seasonThe American people expect quick and effective recoveries from natural disasters like Hurricane Michael and other storms,” said Pai in a release.

That’s why we are re-examining the last administration’s framework to make sure all wireless carriers are meeting communities’ needs and doing everything they can to promptly restore service after a natural disaster.

> Read entire article FCC to probe how wireless carriers respond to natural disasters | Marrian Zhou | CNet

Mexico Beach is ‘wiped out’ by Hurricane Michael as other Florida cities are smashed

“Mexico Beach was wiped out,” said Brock Long, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. “That’s probably ground zero.”

Michael made landfall Wednesday near Mexico Beach as monstrous Category 4 hurricane, annihilating homes with its 155-mph winds.

“First the cars started (floating) by, and all the debris was in the air,” Mexico Beach resident Scott said. “When the water came in, houses started floating in front of our home.”

Other catastrophic scenes are emerging across the Florida Panhandle, where Michael left more than 350,000 without power and entire neighborhoods in ruins.

> Read entire article Mexico Beach is ‘wiped out’ by Hurricane Michael as other Florida cities are smashed | Holly Yan | CNN

Hawaii highlights how resilience is changing the narrative

Hawaii is known for sun, surf and the “aloha” spirit — and in the energy world, as a progressive place that has set landmark goals of 100 percent renewable energy for the state and other clean transportation goals for its counties.

In the era of climate change, the success of clean energy will depend on whether the grid architecture is resilient.

As an island state, Hawaii knows all too well the destructive force of our planet, based on past experiences with Hurricanes Iwa (1982) and Iniki (1992) that affected multiple islands.

Just this year alone, our state has endured a string of bad weather conditions — from heavy rain-induced flooding on Kauai and Oahu in April, to back-to-back major storms in August (Hurricane Lane) and September (Tropical Storm Olivia).

> Read entire article VERGE Hawaii highlighted how ‘resilience’ is changing the narrative | Kyle Datta | Greenbiz

Hurricanes 101 | National Geographic

Hurricanes are the most powerful storms known to us.

Find out when hurricane season peaks, how the storms form, and the surprising role they play in the larger global ecosystem.

11 jobs that go into overdrive when a natural disaster strikes

With Hurricane Florence set to deliver a devastating blow to the Carolinas beginning late Thursday morning through the weekend, residents there are bracing for the worst.

But while many homeowners are boarding up windows and stocking up on food and water, thousands of workers across a number of industries are in overdrive, helping to serve, protect, save, restore and relieve the communities that will be affected by the storm.

Two-thirds of the USA homeowners have no idea what to do in the event of a disasterWhat’s disturbing, however, is the fact that two-thirds of American homeowners have no idea what to do in the event of a disaster, according to a new survey by Belfor Property Restoration. What’s more, only 7% of respondents listed hurricanes as their top concern when it comes to natural disasters; most cited tornadoes (25%) and fires (20%). And even though floods are the most common and costly natural disaster, only 8% of respondents listed flooding as a top concern.

Fortunately, there are people ready to spring into action when storm surges, flooding and high winds threaten.

> Read entire article 11 jobs that go into overdrive when a natural disaster strikes | Barbara Booth | CNBC

These 3 hurricane misconceptions can be dangerous

They warn. They plead. They scold and cajole. Forecasters and public officials will try just about anything to get residents to flee coastlines ahead of a hurricane. Last year as Hurricane Harvey barreled toward the Gulf Coast, the mayor pro tem of Rockport, Tex., said people who insisted on staying should “mark their arm with a Sharpie pen — put their Social Security number on it and their name.”

Fearing that Hurricane Florence could also be deadly, the governors of North and South Carolina ordered evacuations this week in many coastal counties. But experts know that not all residents will heed the warnings, and some say part of the reason is that storm forecasts and risks are inadequately communicated to the public.

There’s a big gap between the forecasts that are available within the weather community and in some cases the information that people receive and are able to use,” said Rebecca Morss, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo.

> Read entire article These 3 hurricane misconceptions can be dangerous. Scientists want to clear them up | Kendra Pierre-Louis | New York Times

More than a million told to evacuate as Florence builds to a Category 4 hurricane

More than a million people were ordered to evacuate a huge stretch of the eastern U.S. coastline as Hurricane Florence rapidly intensified Monday into an “extremely dangerous” Category 4 hurricane packing 130-mph winds

We’re not going to gamble with the lives of the people of South Carolina,” the state’s governor, Henry McMaster, said in an afternoon press briefing Monday as he announced that eight counties along the state’s 187-mile coastline would begin to evacuate on Tuesday.

The center of Florence is expected to move over the southwestern Atlantic, between Bermuda and the Bahamas, over the next few days and bear down on the North Carolina and South Carolina coastlines on Thursday. Tropical-storm-force winds could reach the coastal Carolinas by Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

> Read entire article More than a million told to evacuate as Florence builds to a Category 4 hurricane  | Jenny Jarvie | Los Angeles Times

Is storm-ravaged Alberta insurable?

Alberta has experienced a disproportionate share of the extreme weather catastrophes in Canada over the past decade, causing insurers to question whether the province is a viable place to do business.

Posted on CanadianUnderwriter | By David Gambrill

Residents walk through flood waters in Calgary on June 24, 2013.
Storms, hurricanes and floods driven in part by climate change will cost the federal disaster fund $902 million a year over the next five years, well above past averages, the parliamentary budget officer predicted Thursday.

The question was raised Friday at the C4 conference in Ottawa, where a conference panel discussed why the province’s average home insurance premium soared from $500 to $1,500 over the past decade.

“Is Alberta viable as a place to do business of insurance? Is it possible to get the rates adequate? Is it sustainable?”

Joel Baker, president and CEO of MSA Research

Panelists observed that severe weather events arising from climate change, in addition to a major population boom in the province, have resulted in the Canadian property and casualty insurance industry paying out major losses occurring in the province.
Of the approximately $9 billion that the P&C industry paid out in catastrophe claims over the past nine years, 63% of those losses have happened in Alberta.

Governments may need to accept more exposure than they have in the past, likely in the form of more taxpayer funds for disaster assistance programs.

Read entire article Is storm-ravaged Alberta insurable? | CanadianUnderwriter

Will we ever have satellites that can control the weather?

What if a hurricane could be defused by weather-controlling satellites? BBC Future investigates why this sci-fi staple is such a tall task.

Posted on BBC | By Peter Ray Allison

In the film Geostorm, weaponised weather satellites cause global mayhem

From Star Trek to The Jetsons, one of the hallmarks of an advanced civilisation is seen as the ability to control the weather. More recently, the film Geostorm portrayed a network of satellites designed to prevent catastrophic storms.

As last year’s devastating Atlantic hurricanes demonstrated, we are at the mercy of the weather. Could we ever manipulate it from space?

The videogame Star Wars Battlefront 2 (2017) also heavily features weaponised weather satellites
The idea of tweaking the weather from afar is not as far-fetched as it sounds. As BBC Future reported in 2014, scientists have been on the case for years, albeit using planes rather than satellites. From 1962 to 1983, the American government ran Project Stormfury, which was an attempt to weaken tropical storms by flying aircraft into a storm and seeding it with silver iodide.

Silver iodide is an inorganic compound used as an antiseptic. The theory was that the silver iodide would cause the supercooled water in the storm to freeze, thereby disrupting the internal structure of the hurricane.

It could be argued that we already manipulate the weather, albeit to our detriment, through climate change.

Read entire article Will we ever have satellites than can control the weather? | BBC

Major environmental disasters: October 2017

Historic wildfires in portions of California last month could cost insurers as much as US$8 billion, according to Aon Benfield’s Global Catastrophe Recap for October.

The report, released on Thursday by Impact Forecasting, the catastrophe modelling development centre of Aon Benfield, noted that the California Department of Insurance has cited that at least 19,000 residential, commercial and auto claims have already been filed, with payouts exceeding US$3.32 billion. “This total was expected to rise to as high as US$8 billion as additional claims are processed,” the report said. “On [an] aggregated basis, this is [the] costliest insured wildfire event ever recorded.”

The outbreak of wildfires in early October killed at least 43 people and injured 185 others. Nearly two dozen fires were ignited as the blazes – notably the Central LNU Complex Fire around the town of Santa Rosa – would “aggregate together as the most damaging event on record in the state,” the report said. Data from Cal Fire (the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection) indicated that nearly 9,300 structures were damaged, of which more than 8,560 were destroyed. The worst damage was noted in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, Solano, Butte and Yuba counties.

In this Oct. 9, 2017, file photo, flames from a wildfire burn in Napa, Calif. California Gov. Jerry Brown joined lawmakers to request $7.4 billion in federal funding for wildfire relief and recovery efforts following a deadly cluster of fires that that tore through the heart of the state’s wine country, killing more than 40 people and leaving thousands without housing.

Another significant wildfire outbreak – this time in central and northern Portugal – killed at least 45 people as the fires swept through several districts, notably Coimbra, Viseu and Castelo Branco, causing significant property and commercial damage. The Portuguese Association of Insurers indicated that the total insured losses were likely to reach US$232 million, which would be the costliest event on record for the local industry, the report said. Additional fires caused at least four fatalities in northwestern Spain.

Other events that occurred in October include:

  1. Hurricane Nate impacted central America in early October, causing at least 46 deaths and material losses of up to US$250 million, of which US$185 million was in Costa Rica alone;
  2. Three notable storms in Europe: Windstorm Xavier impacted northern Germany and western Poland, prompting moderate damage and causing at least seven fatalities. The extratropical remnants of Ophelia, the easternmost Atlantic major hurricane (Category 3+) on record hit the British Isles in mid-October. Finally, windstorm Herwart swept through central Europe, causing at least 10 deaths and hundreds of millions (U.S. dollars) in claims payouts;
  3. Super Typhoon Lan caused extensive damage in Philippines and Japan, with powerful winds and torrential rainfall. Total economic losses in Japan were likely to exceed US$1 billion;
  4. Continuous rainfall prompted widespread flooding in China, Thailand and Vietnam, where at least 98 fatalities were reported. At least 121,000 homes were affected by flooding in Thailand alone; and
  5. Flooding in southern Norway became one of the costliest events for the local industry in recent years. Although no fatalities were reported, the floods caused property damage and widespread disruption and left dozens of people temporarily evacuated or isolated. The Norwegian insurance sector estimated losses at US$63 million, with economic losses estimated at more than US$100 million.

Historic wildfires in portions of California last month could cost insurers as much as US$8 billion

Read complete article California wildfires could cost insurers up to US$8 billion: Aon Benfield | Canadian Underwriter