Recently in early spring of 2014, Mother Nature has produced an awesome display of her power across the country in the form of wildfires, flooding, heavy spring snows, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes all in one week. These weather-related disasters make it incumbent on homeowners to do disaster planning and have emergency supplies on hand.
Wildfires in California have been fueled by drought conditions for years and ignited by Santa Ana winds which turn landscapes into hell. Wildfires are notoriously some of the most dangerous events that occur in the United States forcing the evacuation in one area of 20,000 people in Rancho Santa Fe, a very upscale neighborhood in San Diego.
Flooding is one of the most common weather-related disasters in the United States. This year, as from spring runoff of winter snows, heavy rains have forced thousands of their homes.
What appears to be extreme weather has caused severe thunderstorms which spawn tornadoes that can take lives and destroy neighborhoods in seconds. More tornadoes occurred in the last three days of April than in the entire year. And this year they are not limited to tornado alley and Dixie alley.
Out west in Colorado a spring snowstorm dumped as much is 3 feet of snow in some areas and knocked power out to thousands.
And if that was not enough, there is a new phenomenon occurring in some parts of the country called a "firenado" which is a spectacular mix of fire and the tornado. There have been at least two of them reported recently in the United States.
"A firenado is what can happen when a tornado-like weather phenomenon meets a ground fire. The result: roaring spouts of flame shooting 100 ft into the sky."
These weather related events can be devastatingly destructive. It has often been said that a tornado can make its own weather. Hurricanes, dust devils, tornadoes and now firenados typically form vortexes when different conditions of air meet and one quickly moves towards the other. In 90% of the cases it is warm moist air meeting cold dry air in the atmosphere. But in a wildfire the differential can be created all by itself.
"As well as the actual flames, the vortex sucks up combustible gases released by the fire, which meets oxygen-rich air in the center of the vortex and ignite. The resultant heat fuels the vortex even further, producing a jet engine of an inferno . "
The intensity of the wildfire heat burns fuel and the 150-250 mile per hour tornado winds can reignite ashes and spread burning debris for miles creating a genuine "firestorm." The sight is truly awesome to see, but unfortunately the destruction it leaves behind eliminates the wonder and awe.
When you combine the wind speeds of the tornado with the internal wind speed of the burning wildfire you have a very deadly combination.
These events occur all over the United States which is proof positive that no one is immune to the destruction of a weather-related emergency. That is why any government agency will tell you to always have a "go kit" packed and ready should a weather-related disaster strike.