Tuesday, February 20, 2018

What Do Natural Disasters Mean for Me?

Natural disasters have been around long before man. They are natural occurrences of the earth. Places flood. The earth shakes. There is nothing inherently wrong with these events until it disrupts life. Thousands of earthquakes aren’t felt, but they are there. Some happen in the middle of the ocean, so we don’t notice. One thing is for sure in life; there will always be uncertainty. Scientists are getting better at predicting some natural disasters. We can live in denial and hope for the best. Nothing is wrong with hope. The issue is when that denial and hope disrupt us from being prepared. Natural disasters will happen. That is one thing we can be certain about in life. We should hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Let us first start with the increase of earthquakes. On February 16th, there was a total of 78 earthquakes. 48 of which were magnitude 3, 27 were magnitude 4, and 3 were magnitude 5. Luckily most earthquakes are small, and hardly felt.

Mexico, however, has been one of the unlucky ones. On February 16th, there was a 7.2 earthquake. Then again on the 19th they had another earthquake magnitude 5.7. In the past 7 days, they have had 66 earthquakes.

Hawaii has had flash floods. This lead to evacuations and rescue missions. The Honolulu Fire department set out to rescue passengers in cars that were swept up. The rescue was lead by a person who drove a bulldozer into the water. This allowed the firefighters to get closer to the cars and get the passengers out.

New Zealand has had flooding and strong winds from the Cyclone Gita. It is possible to have 90 mph winds. Landslides are also likely. The places in the South Island have declared state of emergency.

The Buller Distract Mayor Garry Howard said, “this is not a good situation for those in seafront properties”. Below is a picture of a man's farm in Balnham after the flooding. 
Chicago and Michigan both have possible flooding.

What people are doing because of the natural disasters?
After Hurricane Irma, Florida is making improvements. They are reworking evacuation routes.  
Another big problem they had was fuel. When evacuations happen, cars need gas. This is what it looked like getting ready for hurricane Irma.

Many improvements are being made as shown below. 
Learning and improving is vital to our existence. Florida has made great strides in improving their evacuation plans. Hopefully it helps fix some kinks that they have been having.  

What natural disasters mean for investors?
Have you ever thought about buying property somewhere by the beach? Maybe California? These places have seen many natural disasters. From this, much property has been destroyed. Yet, people are still buying property in these places. 
Hurricane Harvey caused $125 billion in damage in Houston Texas.
This hasn't changed people's minds for buying property here. Last year the 219 weather disasters caused $1.5 trillion in damages across the United States. Below is a graph showing how disaster costs have changed over the years.

Billy Grayson, the Executive Director for Center of Sustainability and Economic Performance said, "If you think that insurance is always going to cover you, you have to recognize insurance changes every year".

Hurricane Irma caused a lot of damage in Florida. $50 billion to be exact.
Arthur J. Gallagher, the chairman of a large real estate fund, and Alexandra Glickman, the director, pulled out of investing in Florida. Insurance costs were high. Maintaining the properties was costly. They were at high risk of flooding and mold.

There is nothing we can do to change natural disasters. They are a part of life. However, we can change how we prepare for and react to them. We should hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The tragedy of our reality
It is only February 14th, yet in 2018 there have been many school shootings already. The first occurred on January 10th in Sierra Vista, Arizona. On January 20th a 21-year-old was fatally shot at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina during a fraternity event. A 14-year-old committed suicide in the school bathroom. On January 22nd in Italy, Texas, a 16-year-old shot and wounded a fellow classmate in the middle of the cafeteria. The same day another shooting occurred in New Orleans, Louisiana. A 14-year-old opened fire in the parking lot injuring a student. On January 23rd in Benton, Kentucky, a 15-year-old killed two students and injured 18 others. On February 1st in Los Angeles, California, a 12-year-old shot two students. In Oxon Hill, Maryland, on February 5th a student was shot in the parking lot. Today, February 14th, a gunman open fired in a high school in Parkland, Florida. It is reported that there were at least 14 victims, the death total is unclear. A suspect has been taken into custody, and has been identified as a former student. The government is aware of what is happening, and working with law enforcement as investigations are underway.  
The scary thing is that since 2013, there have been 290 school shootings in America alone.
What is being done for prevention?
This is a valid question, and one that has been trying to be answered for years.
The most current thing that has been done in January was the United States Army developing a first-person video game. This game is intended to be used to help teach the user how to react if they ever encounter an active shooter. This game will help teachers to be able to know what the best practices are if they are ever in a shooting situation. It can teach cops how to handle a shooter, as well as other security.  

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Hope for the Best, but Plan for the Worst

Natural disasters are going on all around us, even if we are oblivious to them.
How many of us knew that Paris is flooding, that California had deadly mudslides, or that Albay in the Philippines is getting ready for a possible three-month emergency!
The river Seine is rising in Paris. It has forced over 650 people to evacuate their homes, so they can be safe. The end isn’t even in sight.
Back in 1910 there was a time that a lot of Paris was under water for a couple months! Water levels are predicted to reach 6 meters, or 20 feet, above what is normal. As of this morning it was already 5.7 meters above the normal levels. As seen in the picture below. 
California is Sliding!
Weeks ago deadly mudslides occurred in the Santa Barbara area. It is believed that it was due to heavy rainfall and the recent fires as depicted in this image.
An evacuation was given displacing many families for the second time in the past couple months. The pictures below show the extensive damage done. However, no one can forget the 20 people were killed, and others are missing. Rescue missions were put into place that saved a lot of lives.

Legazpi City is Burning!
In the Philippines, Mount Mayon has erupted, spewing lava and ash all over Albay. 
Officials there are saying that they are getting ready for a three months emergency! more than 81,000 people have already evacuated. The rain that has fallen has done more harm than good. The picture below depicts how the rivers are now running with volcanic debris.
The threat level this volcano has caused is a threat level of 4, and that is on a five-point scale. 
Some experts believe that the worse is yet to come. Because of the bulging sides, it is believed that a powerful eruption is yet to come.  

Natural disasters are nothing new. One thing we can count on from life is that it is unpredictable. The best way to help reign in the chaos of life is to be prepared and come together. Many lives are saved through evacuations, and many are rescued when we band together. FEMA, Federal Emergency Management Agency, has said that “disasters are not avoidable”, “but you can be ready for them”. We should “hope for the best, but plan for the worst”. 

Is the Worst Earthquake yet to Come in 2018?

How safe are you? Did you know that scientists are saying the number of earthquakes could double this year? 
We are still in January, and yet we have seen THREE major earthquakes clocking in over a magnitude of 7! When the 7.9 occurred in Alaska on the 23rd of January, there was much fear of it creating a tsunami in the west coast. Lucky for us, it only was a few inches high, but it could have been a lot worse. This earthquake was bad enough to affect Florida, which is on the other side of the country!
I can't help but ask myself, what if it was a higher magnitude? Sure, a magnitude 8.0 or higher don’t occur often, but when they do, they can completely destroy the area where they happen.
It is being estimated that the earthquake count will double this year. Below is a map of the earthquakes that occurred last year. As you can see, most of the earthquakes were small ones in the middle of the ocean, that really aren’t felt.
However, there have been big ones. Last year there was a devastating earthquake that occurred in Mexico. It was a magnitude of 8.1, and killed over 90 people. They had a tsunami hit, and one of the waves was reported being 5.8 feet.
With the possibilities of earthquakes doubling, that also means there are greater odds of the higher magnitude earthquakes occurring. Below is a map showing how far the intensity of the earthquake, that occurred Mexico, spread. Keep in mind, this is only feeling the earthquake. Not the after affects like the ones seen in Florida from the smaller earthquake in Alaska.

You may be asking yourself, why now? What is making the scientists believe this? The rotation of the earth has a lot of impact on earthquakes. There are devices that are used to measure the motion deep inside the earth’s core. If the earth spins faster or slower, by even a millisecond, then it can impact what we feel on the surface. However, it takes about 5-6 years for this impact to make its way up to the surface. An occurrence of this was measured back in 2011. At the end of last year, we saw quite a few earthquakes, as well as with the beginning of this year.
Projections of where these earthquakes will occur have been done. Back in 2015 a World Risk Report came out as seen in the picture below. This shows which places are at risk.
The equator can be seen as a danger zone. The reasoning if this is that it is the widest point of Earth. That means that it also rotates the fastest. When there is a slowing of the rotation of the Earth, this is the point that is going to be impacted the most.

Of course, what areas at risk should be taken with a grain of salt. There was a 7.9 earthquake that occurred in Alaska, even though this map shows they have a lower risk. 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Strong Winds on Thursday Fuel LA Fires

Ventura County Fire Department

Over 110,000 people have evacuation orders in LA. Fires continue to spread and grow in the Ventura, Bel-Air and Kagel Canyon areas. Hundreds of Schools have been shut down and many homes are at risk.

The Bel-Air fire continues to grow right next to a densely populated area. With Firefighters already dealing with two large fires, the Creek fire and Thomas fire, one more adds even more strain.

The Thomas fire, burning near Ventura, has already scorched 96,000 acres. While there was a small respite from the winds yesterday, the winds picked up again last night fueling the fire even further.  

Garo, Kuradjian, Ventura County Sheriff's captain stated "It's definitely moving... forecasters were correct in terms of wind forecast for tonight - it's much windier than it was yesterday."

With winds like this evacuation has become the priority. "These winds will be where there is no ability to fight these fires" stated Ken Pimlott, fire protection official of Cal Fire "This will be about evacuations and getting people out from in front of any fires that start."

As the Fires continue to spread, so do the evacuation orders. Many homes have already been lost, with heartbreaking stories of loss. As the Christmas Holidays approach this loss can feel even more intense.

The LA Times reports about Geoff Marcus who was one of those who has already lost his home in the Thomas fire. 

"I feel a loss but my family is safe, and, well that's all I care about. These are all possessions that can be replaced,' he said, walking through piles of burned wood and appliances. 'This was a happy place where we celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas. Everything my mom has collected and cherished is gone,' he said"

While these fires are still small compared to the Napa Valley fires that burned 128,000 acres, there is worry that they will continue to spread today. The National Weather Service said Thursday will be the worst day for firefighting, as the forecast is indicating high winds and dry weather.

Extreme winds, which area predicted to reach 40 to 60 miles per hour through the county, are helping the fire move quickly and knocking down power lines and trees.

There is a grade in which fire experts grade fire danger. They measure moisture in dead vegetation, temperature, assess historical weather information, and wind speed and direction. 48 is considered high. 162 is considered extreme. Thursday is scored at 296, a record.

In weather like this fires behave unpredictably. Experts are saying to expect the fire to continue to grow drastically today. Ken Pimlott advised "At the end of the day, we need everyone in the public to listen and pay attention. This is that 'watch the news and go about your day.' This is pay attention minute-by-minute ... keep your head on a swivel."

In any disaster that's what it comes down to. Stay alert, and stay ready, ready to get you and your loved ones to safety. 

The fires, earthquakes, and hurricanes we have seen this year are great reminders that no one is immune, not matter the location. We each are responsible to prepare ourselves and our families before disaster strikes. Have a plan in place, and build up your emergency supplies.

Stay safe out there!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Making Sense of North Korea

North Korea History

North Korea has been a consistently trending topic on search engines and social media during Donald Trump's presidency. There are plenty of articles poking fun at the DPRK, and then those that paint a more disturbing picture.

With all the tension and unease surrounding our current relationship with the North Korean government, and with Kim Jong Un, it's a good idea to piece together what's really going on, and what, if any, threats there are to our national security.

Let's recap what's been going on with North Korea/US relations:

1800's to 1994

North Korea and the United States have been at odds with each other for sometime. The earliest contemporary dispute dates as far back as 1866, known widely as the General Sherman incident.

An armed trade schooner failed to head officials and follow protocol as it sailed towards Pyongyang. The ship came under fire with North Korea, the entire crew was killed.

The US later established trade relations in 1882, but that was not the last of the two nations' disagreements.

The current status of our North Korean relations can mostly be traced back to the end of World War II. In the book Two Koreas: A Contemporary History the author explains the division and animosity of north Korea towards the United States.

In short the USSR began to occupy North Korea. To avoid them occupying the whole of it, US soldiers divided North Korea and South Korea. This was meant to be a temporary measure. As the cold war began and Russian-US Relations worsened the divide became permanent.


In 1994 President Bill Clinton suspected North Korea of creating plutonium for nuclear weapons. North Korea denied permission to International Inspectors to verify the Regime's adherence to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. December of that year a US Helicopter was shot down over North Korea.

This was the start of continued strain between the US and North Korea. While steps were made to normalize relations between the two nations in 2007, this did not last. 

In 2009 American Journalists were arrested and sentenced to 12 years hard labor. Former President Bill Clinton made a surprise visit to the country when the release was secured for the journalists, and they came home with him.

In 2010 a ship in the South Korean Navy was sunk, evidence pointed to North Korea although the cause remains in dispute. As a direct response the US set plans to participate in New Military excursuses with South Korea.

Following the death of Kim Jong-Il and under the leadership of Kim Jong-Un North Korea launched their first satellite into space in 2012. This caused concern as this meant that North Korea could have their own guidance systems for missiles.

2012 marked the year the world began watching the missile program of North Korea very closely. They had their first successful launch in December of that year.

A threat was made against the US in 2013 stating that "rockets were ready to be fired at American bases in the pacific, it was also noted this year that North Korea began renovating a nuclear reactor plant that had previously been suspended of activity in 2007.

This caused concern and worry about a missile strike from North Korea, and if that were to happen, the inevitable war that would follow.

In 2016 a North Korean diplomat declared that the US had declared war with North Korea by putting Kim Jong-Un on a list of sanctioned individuals.

Tensions have been high with North Korea over the past few years. But tensions have never been higher that this year as words and threats have been exchanged between President Trump and the North Korean government.

In addition to potential threats to our nations's security it's also important to point out that the nation itself has had many civil rights issues and complaints. In a testimony given in 2002 Lee Soon-ok said "I testify that most of the 6,000 prisoners who were there when I arrived in 1987 had quietly perished under the harsh prison conditions by the time I was released in 1992."

Another prisoner captured in 2016 was an American named Otto Warmbier. He was captured, and sentenced to prison. Later he was released and sent home in a Comma only to later die as a result of his injuries.


The administration of Donald Trump has seen several instances in the past year when tensions have been high between both countries, Sometimes referred to as the North Korean Crisis.

2017 started with a speech from Kim Jong-Un stating that the country was in its last stages of preparing to test an intercontinental missile.

Through out this year North Korea has continued to launch missile tests despite sanctions and warnings from other countries including the US, including a scheduled launch on July 4th, American Independence day. They have demonstrated that their missile and nuclear program have developed further than previously expected.

This lead up to August of 2017 when harsh rhetoric began to build between the US and North Korea after a US Intelligence assessment noted that North Korea had successfully created a nuclear warhead capable of fitting inside a intercontinental missile.

This means could mean that North Korea can build a nuclear missile capable of striking US mainland.

In response President Trump warned North Korea that any nuclear threat would be met with "fire, fury, and frankly power the likes of which the world has never seen before"

This statement was met with much speculation as to what kind of force the president was referring to, and if he was suggesting at a future war with North Korea.

President Trump later stated about Kim Jong-Un "he has been very threatening, beyond a normal state."

Tensions built as North Korea responded by stating that they were considering launching an attack against US Military bases in Guam.

It appears that this threat was empty words, as an attack did not come, with North Korean officials stating that they were waiting for Trump's next move.

Late August another missile was launched, this time over Japan, as an apparent show of power.

Retaliations through September included more sanctions from the US and a speech from President Trump where he stated that the united states "if it is forced to defend itself or it's allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. This again let to speculation of a potential war with North Korea.

The most recent threat has raised tension once again. On November 28th North Korea launched another test missile. Initial Pentagon assessments have drawn the conclusion that it was an intercontinental ballistic missile.

It appears that the reentry vehicle failed to survive reentry. While not a total success, it has shown that North Korea is continuing to test and improve on their missiles.

In regards to the launch, President Trump simply stated "we'll handle it"

Potential Threats to National Security

There are many who are concerned right now, including General Thurman a former General in charge of US forces in South Korea. He has stated "the last thing we need over there is a military conflict, because it will be very bloody." He also stated it's critical that US leaders are "steady in the saddle" referring to the rhetoric between the White House and Kim Jong-Un.

Some, including Senator Lindsey Graham have suggested that US personnel should be evacuated from South Korea due to threat of war.

Right now there is no sure sign of whether or not the US will end up becoming engaged in a war with South Korea as of yet. We do however know that they do not have any intentions of stopping their missile testing. Launches have continued. In addition the heated rhetoric has continued, even to the point of name calling.

Currently no evidence shows that North Korea has even developed a guidance system accurate enough for a missile to actually be able to hit mainland US.

While that may be the case there is still cause for concern. Targeting Japan or South Korea would be much easier targets, and would still drag America into the war, but it would bring America to their territory as opposed to them attacking us directly. There is still high potential far casualties.
The United States is obligated to help Japan in defense from a treaty that was signed at the end of World War II. And as Senator Graham pointed out, there are still many troops stationed in South Korea.

A larger concern is whether or not North Korea's allies will back the country in case of war. China is one ally that has that potential. It has hinted at the possibility that it will back North Korea if the US were to stick first.

More recently the Chinese air force has performed drills and exercises in routes and areas it has never flown before. The South China Morning Post quotes one military expert name Li Jie as stating "The timing of this high-profile announcement by the [People's Liberation Army] is also a warning to Washington and Seoul not to provoke Pyongyang any further."
It seems that if the current rhetoric and strategy from our White House don't change, we are heading into a potentially bloody war with North Korea. A country which is developing technology that could target the US mainland with a nuclear warhead. 

A potential war seems likely to be perhaps a few years in the future yet, but that makes the now all the more important. For our leaders and officials and for us as individuals.

While a strike here in the US is less likely than one of our allies, we still can use this time to ready ourselves and our families. Wars can be trying, and it's best to have our own supplies. Food, water and a good savings will be very helpful if war were to break out.

Right now the best option seems to prepare for what may come. Stay Safe!

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The aftermath of Typhoon Lan makes way for another Typhoon

Last week a large typhoon made landfall in Japan last week resulting in at least seven recorded deaths and one hundred injuries. The storm reached a massive size with it's gale winds reaching a diameter of 1,380 miles.

A gale is defined as sustained surface winds of 39-54 mph.  This makes Lan the second largest recorded typhoon in history, and the largest of 2017.

The deaths were caused be debris blown around and landslides from the intense storm. While the death toll is relatively few compared to other natural disasters faced this year, the flooding and power outages can cause damage to property and people's livelihoods in farms and transportation.

Japan isn't out of troubled water yet,  Tropical Storm Saola is developing into a typhoon, and it predicted to become such before it makes landfall in Japan.

While not expected to be as powerful as Typhoon Lan, Tropical Storm Saola will bring locally damaging winds, more flooding, and dangerous seas to Japan after already facing one typhoon this season.

It continues to develop through Friday and is taking a very similar course to Typhoon Lan. It could make landfall Saturday or Sunday. One thing is certain, nature doesn't take a break or become complacent, and neither should we! Keep wary, and be prepared.