Friday, June 10, 2016

Earthquake Swarms in the Local 6 Area

It happens every few years or so...the uneasy "earthquake swarms" that erupt on the New Madrid Earthquake Zone right here in the Local 6 area. I think many of us like to put out of our minds that we live on one of the most active fault zones in the United States but the reality is that we record hundreds of very small tremors each year that we just can't feel.
Thanks to an increase in technology and social media, they are getting more attention each time they occur. Here is a quick glance at the past 30 days worth of earthquakes registered with the USGS for our region. (You can click the images to enlarge.)

These tremors range from 1.1 to 2.9 in magnitude, most of them either too small or too deep to feel on the surface of the earth. A cluster of earthquakes of this magnitude over a relatively shorter period of time is known as a "swarm". Most geologists agree that this is not necessarily a precursor to a larger quake and equally does not mean that the swarm will alleviate pressure along the fault to prevent a larger event. What it should do is serve as a reminder that we live on a very active fault line/zone and as we get futher in time since the last large quake event, the higher the risk becomes that one will occur. Are you prepared?

About six years ago I produced a 3-part series investigating more about the past, present, and future of the New Madrid Fault Zone on WPSD Local 6. You can watch it in it's entirety here:

Wikipedia also has a pretty good summary of past quakes and what scientists believe to be true about the fault zone. You can find that here.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Kentucky's Failing Grade for Inland Flooding Preparedness

Climate Central - State of KY Report Card - Full Report
When it comes to responding to inland flooding disasters, Kentucky is spot-on. Prepareing for future disasters with a long-term plan is a different story and we know we can do A LOT BETTER!
For the first time Climate Central released report cards featuring how well each of the 50 states prepares for current hazards and future climate change. A closer look reveals relatively bad grades for states in the Local 6 area. Missouri was at the bottom of the 4-state area coming in with a grade of "F". Kentucky and Illinois followed with a grade of "D" while Tennessee earned highest marks in the region with a "C". The nearly failing grades in Kentucky showed up when looking at future disasters, planning, and long-term preparedness statewide.  The graphic above shows the breakdown of the grades assigned to the different climate related disasters deemed future risks.

The same study/grading showed Kentucky actually scoring very well as it relates to disaster response. Climate Central identified two programs outlining action already taken:
  • Kentucky’s Enhanced Hazard Mitigation Plan, technical assistance programs, disaster response plans, emergency communications materials, and sector-specific programs are helping the state address its current climate risks. 
  • The Community Hazard Assessment and Mitigation Planning System (CHAMPS) database tracks hazards and impacts at the county level. CHAMPS establishes a coordinated process for disaster management planning and enhancing disaster management efforts through a better understanding of risk.

Looking forward Kentucky is in need of an actual plan. Despite political views, warming is taking place whether you believe it to be human induced or natural, and the state must be prepared for the implications of a warmer climate. For Kentucky, those risks have been identified as extreme heat, drought, wildfires, and inland flooding. The weaknesses in our state preparedness are identified as the following:

  • No evidence of statewide detailed climate change vulnerability assessments across the sectors examined. 
  • No evidence of statewide detailed climate change adaptation plan across the sectors examined. 
  • No evidence of official state funding, policies, or guidelines to improve resilience to climate change-related risks. 
  • No evidence of action to incorporate climate change projections associated with extreme heat, drought, wildfire, or inland flooding into state-level programs, investments, and activities. 
  • No evidence of public outreach about climate change-related risks.
Climate Central "Action Taken Report Card" for Kentucky - 2015
It's up to state and local officials to address these weaknesses to prepare and strengthen our communities.

The 21st Conference of the Parties to the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) took place months ago in Paris, France. This meeting involved world leaders negotiating an international agreement to limit emissions and hold planetary warming below 2°C (3.6°F) from pre-industrial levels. To find out why 2 degrees makes such a difference, even here in the Local 6 area, check out the video below.