Monthly Archives: May 2010

The 2010 Hurricane Season – One for the Record Books?

Note: This edition of the Hurricane Watch comes to you courtesy of the public affairs division of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (G.E.M.A.). Special thanks to Lisa Janek-Newman, Ken Davis, Buzz Weiss & Kathy Huggins

Preparedness Bulletin #2
May 27, 2010

Five Days and Counting. . . . .

NOAA 2010 hurricane season forecast. (

The 2010 hurricane season begins Tuesday. And we may not have to wait long before Mother Nature roils the Atlantic Basin waters. Sultry sea surface temps are well above normal and have already broken records. Some forecasters are calling for a season that will start early and stay late.

AccuWeather’s Chief Long-Range Meteorologist Joe Bastardi warns that “. . . 2010 may be remembered as the hurricane season from Hades.” Hmmmm. . . gosh, darn it, that’s pretty strong language, Joe.

Over the past week, forecasters had their eyes on a low pressure system that stalked the area between Bermuda and the Bahamas. It generated heavy rain, thunderstorms and gale force winds, but remained disorganized and never presented any real threat.

Another Official Prediction

The NWS Climate Prediction Center issued its official prognostication for the ’10 season this morning. And it doesn’t look good. They’re forecasting between 14-23 named storms, including 8-14 hurricanes, 3-7 of which could be major.

As always, we note that preparedness is important no matter how many storms are forecast, but the sheer numbers this year are causing us some indigestion.

“If this outlook holds true, this season could be one of the more active on record,” says Dr. Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator. “The greater likelihood of storms brings an increased risk of a landfall. In short, we urge everyone to be prepared.”

Our advice – don’t book any cruises this summer.

Oil and Water. . .

This hurricane season – dire predictions notwithstanding – could have an arguably different twist as the BP oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico continues to unfold. Many are wondering what impact, if any, the oil spill will have.

Well, The Hurricane Watchspared no expense and sent forth its intrepid  research team (Ken & Buzz) on a mission to ferret out answers to that question, while dutifully avoiding overtime. Here’s what we found.

Some forecasters say it all depends on the track of a possible hurricane or tropical storm. If a storm were to veer toward the western Gulf it would push the spill further north creating a more ominous threat to Louisiana and Texas. So says NWS meteorologist Phil Hysell. And according to USA Today, NOAA cautions that one or more hurricanes could force oil up from below the surface and push it ashore in a storm surge.

There is also a school of thought that says the surface slick will reduce evaporation and limit a storm’s source of energy. But The Weather Channel’s Dr. Rick Knabb debunks that argument, saying that the Gulf of Mexico is large and that tropical cyclones won’t necessarily form over the area covered by the oil. And he says the oil slick, though large, is relatively small when compared to most tropical storms or hurricanes.

The Weather Underground’s Dr. Jeff Masters concurs that oil slicks could affect the formation of a tropical depression or tropical storm. But he says a full-blown hurricane would mix the oil and water to the extent it would have no impact on evaporation. “The oil slick is currently Delaware-sized, while a hurricane tends to be Texas-sized, and I doubt that the oil slick at its current size is large enough to have a significant impact on a hurricane’s intensity,” says Masters.

So, the answer is – well, there is no clear answer. That’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

A Question

And keeping with the honored tradition we began last year, we’ll leave you with a question to ponder. What major change is being made in the newly-revised Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale?

The Hurricane Watch – Preparedness Bulletin #6

Note: This edition of the Hurricane Watch comes to you courtesy of the public affairs division of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (G.E.M.A.). Special thanks to Lisa Janek-Newman, Ken Davis, Buzz Weiss & Kathy Huggins   

Preparedness Bulletin #6
                                                                                       June 24, 2010

That You, Alex?

No. Not just yet. But we’ve been closely watching a turbulent and disturbed Caribbean over the past week. A fairly decent wind shear had prevented a series of low pressure systems and tropical waves from developing into tropical storms. But a wave, dubbed Invest 93, by NHC has spawned heavy thunderstorms over the Greater Antilles, and forecasters say it could become a tropical storm over the next couple of days. They’re giving it a 40 percent chance. The storm would be named Alex, but you’ve probably guessed that already. We’ll keep watch.

How Can I Be Overdrawn?  I Still Have Checks

America’s economic woes are being fueled by the rash of natural disasters that have plagued us in recent years. That – according to Dr. J. David Rogers, Hasselman Chair of Geological Engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology. And with a title like that you know he’s got to be credible.

In a recent speech to Federal Reserve Bank officials, Rogers noted the uptick in hurricanes, flooding and earthquakes over the past two decades, which he attributes to natural cycles. Rogers, quoted in the Insurance Journal, says more money has been spent on natural disasters in the last 20 years than the total amount spent in all the years before that.

“The National Flood insurance Program was bankrupted by Katrina and Rita,” says Rogers, “We are underwater in debt from hurricanes, floods and other natural disasters.”

I’ll Exercise, But You Can’t Make Me Watch Richard Simmons!

Approximately 400 personnel from state, local and volunteer agencies will take part in GEMA’s third biennial HURREX exercise next week. The full-scale exercise will evaluate the ability of these agencies and organizations to effectively respond to the needs of those individuals and jurisdictions in the event of a major hurricane landfall along the Georgia coast.

The exercise, which will run June 28-30, will simulate pre-landfall, post-landfall and demobilization phases, and will incorporate all 15 emergency support functions (ESFs). The State Operations Center at Atlanta will be activated along with other support sites in Savannah, Forsyth and Dublin.

The exercise is particularly timely as weather experts are forecasting one of the most active hurricane seasons in recorded history.

So, Define “Active”

AccuWeather’s Joe Bastardi is already re-calculating his predictions – as meteorologists seem inclined to do. He now predicts 18-21 named storms this hurricane season. That’s up from the 16-18 he augured as the season began. Bastardi crawls a little further out on the limb to forecast four named storms in July, with one or two striking the U.S. coast. But remember – it’s all about preparedness and not about the numbers and guesstimates. It only takes one hurricane or tropical storm to spoil the day.

Happy Birthday 

This week marks the 150thanniversary of the formation of the U.S. Army Signal Corps. Now why, exactly, are we celebrating this? Other than the fact that G-mites like cake and ice cream, it’s because the Signal Corps was the forerunner of the modern-day National Weather Service.


Last week we asked what is the average distance that a tropical storm or hurricane travels in the Atlantic Basin? The answer is 1,620 miles. Today’s question – what do Hurricanes Georges, Ivan, Jeanne and Karl have in common?




American Red Cross Memorial Day Water Safety Advice:Have Fun This Summer Without Taking a Holiday From Safety

Memorial Day (May31) will mark the unofficial beginning of Summer, when children and parents look forward to outdoor activities at area lakes and pools. However, accidents can happen if families take a holiday from safety.  The good news is that most water tragedies can be prevented, if everyone remembers the basic rules of water safety. 

– Learn to swim and swim well.  One of the best things anyone can do to stay safe in and around the water is learn to swim.  No one, including adults, should ever swim alone.  Adults should practice “reach supervision” which means to be within arm’s length of a child in case an emergency occurs.   

– Outfit everyone with the proper gear.  Kids – and even adults – who are not strong swimmers or who appear to rely on inflatable toys for safety should use U.S. Coast Guard approved personal flotation devices (PFDs) whenever they are in or around the water.  “This lifesaving lightweight plastic equipment when used properly can help save lives,” says Sean Penn, Red Cross aquatics program specialist. Everyone, including strong swimmers, should use an approved PFD when boating.  Each person should have the appropriate personal flotation device for his or her weight and size, which is found clearly marked inside the label near the Coast Guard stamp.  “A great idea is to make a family day out of learning the rules of water safety and shopping for durable safety equipment together at a local pool supply store or mass distributor,” Penn suggests.  

– Always keep basic lifesaving equipment by the residential pool and know how to use it.  A first aid kit, cordless phone, phone list with emergency contact information, a reaching pole and a ring buoy with a nylon line attached are recommended.  First aid kits should contain plastic face shields, which can help prevent disease transmission.  Cordless phones allow you to make that 911 call and to receive calls without leaving the area.   

“Plastic makes the ring buoy so light even a child can save a life if the need arises,” points out Penn. “These items coupled with a pool emergency action plan—similar to a fire drill—help the whole family breathe a little easier.”  In addition, the Red Cross recommends that pools be surrounded on all sides by a fence that is at least 4 feet high.  It should not provide any footholds, which would allow a child to climb over or spacing to climb through.  The fence should have a self-closing, self-locking gate that is locked when the pool is not in use.  

– Pack a “safety” bag for a day at the beach or lake.  “The properly packed safety bag will help ensure a fun day in which everyone comes home safe and sound.”  Water-proof sunscreen with an SPF 15 or higher, water shoes to keep feet safe from the heat and sharp objects on land and plenty of water are musts.  All containers should be plastic to prevent injuries from breaking glass.  Also, a hat and sunglasses keep eyes safe from dangerous UV rays.

– Learn Red Cross first aid and CPR.  “While the above tips can help prevent emergencies, it is important to know what to do if a situation arises,” says Penn.  And all caregivers, including grandparents, older siblings and babysitters should have these lifesaving skills.  

For more information on staying safe in and around the water go to or contact the Metropolitan Atlanta Chapter at 404-876-3302.

The Atlanta Red Cross Loses A “Humanitarian Hero”

Ron Starnieri (May 21, 1946 - May 7, 2010)

Ron Starnieri, Atlanta Red Cross Disaster Action Team member, passed away unexpectedly on Friday, May 7, 2010.  Starnieri, age 63, of Douglasville, GA, was born May 21, 1946 in Canton, OH, son of the late Albert and Frances Maugeri Starnieri. He was a Veteran of the U.S. Air Force, having served his country during the Viet Nam Conflict, and was a member of the Viet Nam Veterans Association. Mr. Starnieri was a retired banker with Wachovia Bank; a member of St. Theresa Catholic Church and a member of the Knights of Columbus.

“Ron was one of the Atlanta Red Cross’ most dedicated volunteers,” said Rabihah Walker, Disaster Specialist for the Northwestern District. “I recall that whenever I called him, be it night or day, he was always kind, always concerned and always quick to respond to the needs of our clients.” 

Tina McElveen, another Red Cross volunteer, helped to train Starnieri as a Red Cross Disaster Action Team Captain, and remembers him as someone who was always willing to help out. “Ron was a super nice guy”, said McElveen. “Even during the Atlanta Floods when Ron’s house sustained damage, he was determined to try to help others. He was just an all around good guy.”  

Starnieri is survived by his wife, Linda Starnieri; daughters and sons-in-law, Stephanie and Jim Clark, Suzanne and Chad Pannell; grandchildren, Adam Clark, Nathan Clark, Carter Pannell, Cole Pannell, Libby Pannell, Chayse Pannell and Cohen Pannell; sisters, Alberta Northrup; Marlene Hoover and her husband John, Sherri Lewis and her husband Bob; brothers, James Starnieri and his wife Sandy, Jeff Starnieri and his wife Cindy; numerous nieces and nephews.

Riverstone Montessori Students Help Raise Over $5,500 for Earthquake Relief



Hard work and creativity turn into a heartfelt donation for Red Cross relief efforts in Haiti and Chile. 

Students at Riverstone Montessori Academy in Marietta, GA were deeply moved by the images of suffering in the wake of the Haitian Earthquake, so they decided to do something about it. 

In a creative brainstorming session, elementary and middle school students came up with the idea and the design.   Maurice Alonso and Spencer McClure were the winning t-shirt designers.  The youngsters not only sold t-shirts but had lemonade and hot chocolate as well to raise the funds to produce the shirts and provide a much needed dontation to the Red Cross.

When Chile was also affected by a devastating earthquake, Riverstone students again rose to the challenge and designed another t-shirt, encompassing both disasters. 

On Saturday, May 1, the students and school administrators presented Red Cross volunteer, Lisa Matheson, with a check for $5,314.06. A school spirit night yielded another donation from a local business, which brings the total raised by Riverstone pupils to $5,551.81.  T-shirt sales continue through students and the school’s website: