Baltimore County Now
Mark Hubbard, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
For as long as I can remember, the weather services used human names for hurricanes. If you are unlucky enough to have one of those names (Agnes, Isabel, Katrina, Floyd, Horatio etc.) you may be branded with the image of tragedy and destruction.
When it came to other severe weather, like tornadoes, we usually refer to the storm by the name of the town most severely impacted and perhaps the severity rating on the Fujita scale. Example: " That F5 tornado that struck Smallville."
Since the inception of 24/7 news coverage that included severe weather television and radio channels devoted purely to weather news, a new phenomena is emerging – the effort to brand other storms, in particular, winter storms, as well. For example, the President's Day storm of.........; the Valentines day storm of....... and so on. Broadcast news also likes to use bold character graphics in the news cast: Blizzard of 2010, etc. If you ask me, this only magnifies the stress we often experience when preparing for and suffering through these storms.
But perhaps there is a purpose to all of this. Consider a system where we used a scientific-like numbering system. So perhaps instead of referring to Hurricane Isabel by name, we instead said Hurricane #2003-6. Somehow, this generic label simply does not seem to fit. So maybe it is not so crazy to now see many other severe weather events given a human name. Branding a storm does somehow seem to add character and identity – almost a personality. In the case of winter storms, The Weather Channel has decided to name this winter’s storms after Greek mythology icons like Atlas, Boreas (Greek god of the cold north wind), Electra, Hercules, Ion, Janus and Titan.
The February 12th storm is called Pax, the Latin word for peace. Let’s hope it’s an appropriate name and that we don’t make it all the way to Zephyr this year!
Take a look at what the Weather Channel had to say about it. And, oh, how we love our brands! So let's just roll with it for now. Otherwise, imagine a world without Coke or Pepsi. It would seem a bit flat (pun intended) if we knew them just as Cola #1 and Cola #2. (You figure out which is which!)
Regardless of what we call them, winter storms are worthy of respect and caution. So, everyone please remember to exercise common sense at home and on the roads, and keep up with Baltimore County’s winter storm operations at www.baltimorecountymd.gov/snow and on Twitter at @BACOemergency.
by Mark Hubbard
Director of the Baltimore County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
Ready? Set? Good!
That's the theme for personal preparedness when it comes to planning and being ready in the event of a local community or countywide emergency. Several years ago, emergency management agencies throughout the Baltimore region developed the “Ready? Set” Good!” campaign as a way to spread the word that every household is responsible for disaster preparedness.
As you may know, June 1 is the start of hurricane season. And, of course, spring and summer weather increases the risk of severe storms. These storms often cause power loss, local flooding, or other community specific problems. Navigating the recovery process can be much easier if you take a few steps to prepare.
Don't laugh, but in my garage you will find a 30-gallon trash can filled with water. Why? Because in the event of a water outage, I need a ready supply of non-potable water to flush toilets.
Generally, you should have the following emergency supplies available: a gallon of drinking water, per person, per day, for three days; a battery-operated flashlight (kept within reach); and a battery-operated portable radio. This simple kit will ease the pain of the first three days in the event of a prolonged power outage.
Many people also have portable generators, but you must be extremely careful to avoid the possibility of carbon monoxide fumes entering your home. Always operate generators outdoors and at least 15 feet from the home.
So here's your homework: Try to go three days without turning on a light switch or any electrical appliance and don't use the faucet. See my point? It's not fun.
To learn more about preparedness tips and plans, visit the Emergency Management web page at www.baltimorecountymd.gov/emergency
Have a safe and happy summer season, and let's hope for a calm hurricane season.