Tuesday, May 5, 2009

"Swine" H1N1 Flu / Historic May 5th Hailstorm / Recent Severe weather

H1N1: Fort Worth, in Tarrant County, was one of the first cities in the country to confirm cases of the H1N1 flu. As a result, all schools are closed until May 11 to help protect children from exposed. Arlington, which borders Fort Worth on the east, has not yet had a confirmed case and schools remain open. The Arlington Office of Emergency Management has been on over-time for more than a week making preparations for deployment of medical personnel and issuance of medications in the event H1N1 becomes a wide-spread pandemic and hospital ER's become overwhelmed. Fort Worth's Mayfest was cancelled the morning it was supposed to open due to flu fears, costing vendors and the City well over $500,000. The new CERT training class scheduled for May has been postponed because of H1N1 preparedness priorities.

Historic Hail Storm: On May 5, 1995 Mayfest was in the path of the worst hail storm in US history, with baseball size (3-1/2 inch) hail slamming into people and property alike. That storm, a rapidly developing HP Supercell with the ugliest boiling yellow-green clouds I've ever seen, is also the most expensive hail storm in history. Almost everyone in Tarrant County, and a good portion of Dallas and other contiguous counties, had no choice but to replace the roof. (As a consequence, some 14 years later we still pay additional Homeowner's premiums, resulting in one of the highgest insurance rates in the country.) Trees were stripped bare, craters covered the ground where the hail hit. etc. Moving east, the same storm caused massive flooding in Dallas. At Mayfest alone 110 people were injured. That none of the 10,000 visitors that night was killed by 3+ inch hail hitting them at 80 miles per hour, was a miracle. The death toll from the storm itself was 14, most drowning victims. My neighbor, at Mayfest that evening, ended up with 2 broken hands as he tried to protect his head from the huge hailstones before he could scramble under his car for protection. His car looked like someone had pummeled it with a sledge hammer, almost flattening roof, hood and trunk and knocking out most of the windows. http://www.stormtrack.org/library/1995/hail.htm

Current Sereve Weather and RACES SKYWARN activations: The past 8 days severe weather has been a major player in this area. The RACES SKYWARN was activated by the National Weather Service on Monday, April 27th due to a Severe Thunderstorm warning. Within minutes of the time we got to the EOC, it was cancelled. On Saturday, May 2nd alone, the NWS issued severe thunderstorm warnings 4 separate times, meaning the RACES SKYWARN Net was activated 4 times. Radio Dave and I were at the EOC a good part of the day - and night. The first set, which moved through about 3:30, developed a micro burst that caused the collapse of the Dallas Cowboy Practice Field "Bubble" with 60 to 70 mph winds. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbABlUswsfM) As storms moved out of Tarrant County, the warning was cancelled. However, another set of storms quickly developed and at 4:10 another warning was issued. We left the Emergency Operations Center shortly after 6. After a brief stop to check of my parents, I drove to Euless to visit my daughter. I had only been there 15 minutes when a third set of storms again quickly developed and the EOC was activated again about 7:30 and I rushed back to Arlington. I didn't get home until after 10p.m. I was still wired and up at 3 a.m. when a squall line that had developed over the past 30 minutes was close enough to issue yet another severe thunderstorm warning. The EOC was activated the 4th time in 18 hours. This one had a lot of Cloud to Ground lightening which caused some structure fire damage, but very quickly moved through the area. Nonetheless. I didn't get back home until 4:00a.m. DFW Airport called ground halts several times during the day because of the storms. While Radio Dave monitored and reported to the RACES net through 146.94, I served at Net Controller for Arlington's 147.14 frequency along with logging storm spotter reports into our event log system. The rest of Sunday and Monday were storm free. The forecast for Tuesday is that the cool front that moved through Saturday/Sunday will move back up and through as a warm front triggering more potentially severe weather across North Texas.

Abbreviation Key

AARC - Arlington Amateur Radio Club
- Amateur Radio Emergency Service
- Community Emergency Response Team
EMST - Emergency Management Support Team
- Emergency Operations Center - part of the OEM
FEMA - Federal Emergency Management Agency
- National Weather Service
NWS FWD - National Weather Service - Fort Worth/Dallas
OEM - Office of Emergency Management
- Public Service Event - ARES Net
RACES - Radio Amateur Civil Emergency Services
- TExas Severe Storm Associaton