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Posts Tagged ‘natural disaster

“Disasters are called natural, as if nature were the executioner and not the victim”*…

 

The United States is an enormous country, spanning mountains, deserts, forests, prairie, tundra, and more. This varied terrain is also home to many natural hazards spawned by air, water, fire, and forces beneath the Earth’s surface.

Some of these threats are dramatic; the United States and its territories have the greatest number of active volcanoes of any country except Indonesia, as well as the most tornadoes. Other hazards, like heat waves, are less flashy but can still kill you.

Different regions of the country face very different hazards. But which part of the United States is the most dangerous? It turns out there’s no simple answer, although the south does have a particularly generous share of hazards…

See how the country’s natural menaces differ by geography at “Where in the United States is nature most likely to kill you?

* Eduardo Galeano

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As we calculate our odds, we might recall that it was on this date in 1899 that New Richmond Tornado– an estimated F5 storm, formed in the early evening, and went on to tear a 45-mile long path of destruction through St. Croix, Polk and Barron counties in west-central Wisconsin, leaving 117 people dead, twice as many injured, and hundreds homeless.  The worst devastation wrought by the tornado was at the city of New Richmond, Wisconsin, which took a direct hit from the storm.  In all, more than $300,000 ($8,825,000 in today’s dollars) in damage was reported.  Still, it ranks as only the ninth deadliest tornado in United States history.

The ruins of New Richmond Methodist Church after the tornado

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Written by LW

June 12, 2018 at 1:01 am

“Perhaps catastrophe is the natural human environment, and even though we spend a good deal of energy trying to get away from it, we are programmed for survival amid catastrophe”*…

 

On January 21, a huge boulder smashed through a farm in Northern Italy after being dislodged by a landslide. The massive rock narrowly missed a farm house, destroyed a barn, and stopped in a vineyard at the property in Ronchi di Termeno.

 

A second giant boulder detached during the landslide stopped behind the house.

The family living there was unharmed.

[via the BBC]

* Germaine Greer

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As we count our blessings, we might recall that it was on this date in 1938 that a series of freak waves struck Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia.  The waves, which pulled people back into the sea, caused 5 deaths by drowning and necessitated the rescue of a further 250 who been dragged hundreds of yards off shore. The day has become known as “Black Sunday” in Australia.

Bondi Beach in more placid times

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Written by LW

February 6, 2014 at 1:01 am

Chile today, hot tamale!…

 

In 2007, the Naga Bhut Joloki or “Ghost chile” was named the hottest pepper on earth. Then in 2010 the Naga Viper stole the title. And in 2012 the Trinidad Scorpion Moruga Blend moved into the lead. And for good reason.

The Scorpion ranks at round 2 million heat units on the Scoville scale. (For comparison, tabasco sauce has 2,500–5,000 Scoville heat units or SHU.) What exactly does that mean? When the scale was invented in 1912 by pharmacist Wilbur Scoville in search of a heat-producing ointment, it was based on human taste buds. The idea was to dilute an alcohol-based extract made with the given pepper until it no longer tasted hot to a group of taste testers. The degree of dilution translates to the SHU. In other words, according to the Scoville scale, you would need as many as 5,000 cups of water to dilute 1 cup of tobacco sauce enough to no longer taste the heat.

And while the Scoville scale is still widely used, says Dr. Paul Bosland, professor of horticulture at New Mexico State University and author or several books on chile peppers, it no longer relies on the fallible human taste bud…

For the reason “Ghost chile” is so named– and for more about the valiant folks who ponder peppers for our protection, the techniques they use, and links to the Chile Pepper Institute (at New Mexico State University), where readers can acquire a nifty chile tasting wheel— see “How Hot is That Pepper? Unpacking the Scoville Scale.”

[photo: “WhisperToMe“]

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As we remind ourselves that water doesn’t quell the heat, it spreads it, we might recall that it was on this date in 1556 that the deadliest earthquake in history (and the third deadliest natural disaster in history) occurred in Shaanxi Province, China; it killed an estimated 830,000 people.  Modern estimates, based on geological data, give the earthquake a magnitude of approximately 7.9-8 on the moment magnitude scale (the successor to the Richter scale).  Its epicenter was in the Wei River Valley, near the cities of Huaxian, Weinan and Huayin.  In Huaxian, every single building and home was demolished, killing more than half the residents of the city.

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Written by LW

January 23, 2013 at 1:01 am

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