Hurricane activity is common in the Atlantic during August, but 2018 could be a rare exception with no tropical cyclones achieving this intensity during the month.
Two tropical storms, Debby and Ernesto, have formed so far this month, but they were far away from land in the northern Atlantic Ocean. Neither of them was in an area where conditions in the atmosphere and ocean would allow them to strengthen into hurricanes.
With a week to go in the month, there is a growing chance that August 2018 could finish with no hurricane activity. There were two Atlantic hurricanes in July this season: Beryl and Chris.
Satellite imagery for the Atlantic is quiet for late August and shows no areas of interest for possible development into a tropical storm or a hurricane. In addition, forecast guidance is not showing a clear signal for hurricane development as we close out the month.
Only eight years since the satellite era began in 1966 have had no hurricane activity in August. Most recently was five years ago in 2013. By hurricane activity we mean a named storm becoming at least a Category 1 for some period of time in a given year between Aug. 1-31.
The other seven years with no hurricanes tracking through the Atlantic basin in August are 2002, 2001, 1997, 1988, 1984, 1982 and 1967. That’s an average of about once every six to seven years August has had no hurricanes.
Beulah hit south Texas in September 1967 as a major hurricane with damaging winds, flooding and more than 100 tornadoes.
There’s no guarantee that a hurricane will strike the U.S. in the next couple of months like what occurred in those years, but residents of coastal locations should have a hurricane preparedness plan in place every year no matter what.
HOUSTON (AP) — A new report on the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey says the U.S. has never experienced the amount of rainfall across such a vast area as that brought by Harvey when it struck Texas.
The report released this week by the Harris County Flood Control District says more rain fell over a five-day period, and on such a broad area, than at any time since records have been kept.
The area extends roughly from Victoria in South Texas northeast to Houston and over to the Louisiana border.
The report relied on calculations done by Texas state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon.
The report focused almost exclusively on Harris County, home to Houston, where rainfall amounts last August ranged from 26 to 47 inches (660 to 1194 millimeters). Some areas east of metro Houston saw an estimated 55 inches (1397 millimeters).
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Hurricanes are the worst natural disasters in U.S. history. Hurricane Irma alone caused up to $200 billion worth of damage in 2017. While homes and properties are highly vulnerable to such disasters, the damages can be reduced by following a few key tips. Here’s how to minimize the impact of hurricanes on your home.
Review your insurance. Regular homeowners policies don’t cover damage from flooding caused by natural disasters. So, before a hurricane strikes your area, make sure to get separate flood insurance. Visit https://www.floodsmart.gov/ for more info. Also keep an inventory with photos and videos of your belongings to help file the insurance claim.
Secure your Make your roofing and frames stronger by installing reinforcements, such as straps or clips. Also secure loose shingles with heavy-duty adhesive and seal around your home’s chimney or vent pipes to keep water out.
Maintaingutters and downspouts. Clean your gutters and downspouts regularly to prevent clogs. These could cause water damage to your home when rain starts to pour. Also ensure your gutters are strong and not sagging.
Secure your windows. Strong winds can shatter your windows, leaving your home vulnerable. The best way to secure your windows is to install permanent storm shutters, which can be made of steel, aluminum, and other materials. Installing plywood is also a good defense for your windows. However, avoid taping as it doesn’t prevent glass from breaking.
Caulk your home. Caulking is a fast way to waterproof your house and reinforce vulnerable areas. Caulk around your windows and doors, the edges of your house, and around chimneys and other roof penetrations.
Insulate the outside first floor walls with rigid foam or install plastic sheeting. It won’t stop all the water from getting in, but most of the silt will be kept out.
Reinforce yourgarage To make it withstand powerful winds, secure your garage door with a brace kit rated for storm and hurricane winds. Other ways to strengthen your garage door are installing a metal post system or covering the door with metal panels, fabric screen or 5/8-inch plywood.
Trim treesand shrubs. Loose branches in your yard (and neighborhood) could be struck by powerful winds during a storm, damaging your house. So cut those dead or loose branches to safeguard your property.
Secure loose objects. Your yard may also host objects that could become projectiles in high winds. Tie down and secure anything that could be swept up by winds, such as potted plants, lawn furniture, and dog houses. When a storm is imminent, bring light objects inside.
Protect appliances from power outages. While you should unplug electrical devices during a powerful storm, it’s ideal to also purchase a surge protector. It prevents damage to your devices in case the power goes out.
Move valuables to a higher floor. As electronics and appliances are susceptible to water damage, move them to a higher floor. If you can’t, at least raise them off the floor on concrete blocks.
Use sandbags when a storm is hours from arriving. Pile up sandbags at least two feet high as an efficient barricade against floodwaters. If you don’t have sandbags, place heavy-duty garbage bags – filled one-third of the way with water – around your house doors.
The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season forecast released Thursday from Colorado State University calls for the number of named storms and hurricanes to be slightly above historical averages, but less than last year.
The group led by Dr. Phil Klotzbach calls for another busy season with a total of14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
This is just above the 30-year average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes. A major hurricane is one that is Category 3 or stronger on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.
Though the official Atlantic hurricane season runs from June through November, occasionally we can see storms form outside those months, as happened last season with April’s Tropical Storm Arlene.
The CSU outlook is based more than 30 years of statistical predictors, combined with seasons exhibiting similar features of sea-level pressure and sea-surface temperatures in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans.
Here are three questions what this outlook means.
Q: What Does This Mean For the U.S.?
There is no strong correlation between the number of storms or hurricanes and U.S. landfalls in any given season. One or more of the 12 named storms forecast to develop this season could hit the U.S., or none at all. Therefore, residents of the coastal United States should prepare each year no matter the forecast.
A couple of classic examples of why you need to be prepared each year occurred in 1992 and 1983.
The 1992 season produced only six named storms and one subtropical storm. However, one of those named storms was Hurricane Andrew, which devastated South Florida as a Category 5 hurricane.
In 1983 there were only four named storms, but one of them was Alicia. The Category 3 hurricane hit the Houston-Galveston area and caused almost as many direct fatalities there as Andrew did in South Florida.
In contrast, the 2010 season was active. There were 19 named storms and 12 hurricanes that formed in the Atlantic Basin.
Despite the large number of storms that year, not a single hurricane and only one tropical storm made landfall in the United States.
In other words, a season can deliver many storms, but have little impact, or deliver few storms and have one or more hitting the U.S. coast with major impact.
In 2017, seven named storms impacted the U.S. coast, including Puerto Rico, most notably hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, which battered Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, respectively.
In 2016, five named storms impacted the Southeast U.S. coast, most notably the powerful scraping of the coast from Hurricane Matthew, and its subsequent inland rainfall flooding.
Before that, the number of U.S. landfalls had been well below average over the previous 10 years.
The 10-year running total of U.S. hurricane landfalls from 2006 through 2015 was seven, according to Alex Lamers, a meteorologist with The National Weather Service. This was a record low for any 10-year period dating to 1850, considerably lower than the average of 17 per 10-year period dating to 1850, Lamers added.
Bottom line: It’s impossible to know for certain if a U.S. hurricane strike, or multiple strikes, will occur this season. Keep in mind, however, that even a weak tropical storm hitting the U.S. can cause major impacts, particularly if it moves slowly, resulting in flooding rainfall.
Q: Will El Niño or La Niña play a role?
The odds are increasingly in favor for the development of a neutral state of El Niño or a weak El Niño by the heart of the hurricane season. In other words, near average or slightly warmer than average water temperatures in the eastern Pacific are anticipated.
Increasing water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific is a sign that La Niña is waning.
El Niño, or the periodic warming of the central and eastern equatorial waters of the Pacific Ocean, tends to produce areas of stronger wind shear (the change in wind speed with height) and sinking air in parts of the Atlantic Basin that is hostile to either the development or maintenance of tropical cyclones.
The chances of El Niño development climb toward the end of the season, according to the Climate Prediction Center, but neutral conditions are most likely during the peak of hurricane season, which occurs in September.
Klotzbach noted in the outlook that there is considerable uncertainty regarding the future state of El Niño. In fact, “the latest plume of ENSO (El Niño-Southern Oscillation) predictions from a large number of statistical and dynamical models shows a large spread by the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season in August-October.”
However, based on the current information, Klotzbach says that the “best estimate is that we will likely have neutral ENSO conditions by the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season.”
ENSO conditions will need to be closely monitored over the next few months.
Q: Any Other Factors in Play?
Water temperatures in the Atlantic have a much more direct role in tropical cyclone development on our side of the continent.
The current water temperatures across the North Atlantic basin show cooler-than-average water temperatures in the far North Atlantic and in the eastern tropical Atlantic and warmer-than-average water temperatures off the East Coast of the U.S., Klotzbach points out.
Since early March there has been some slight anomalous warming across the eastern and central tropical Atlantic, Klotzbach notes. It remains a big question of what water temperatures will be in the North Atlantic during the peak of hurricane season.
Remember, however, that it isn’t the anomalies that allow hurricanes to intensify, but rather the actual heat of the oceans.
Water temperatures of 80 degrees or higher are generally supportive of tropical storm and hurricane formation and development.
Much of the tropics stay at or above this temperature for most of the year.
So why bring it up if favorable conditions are always around?
If temperatures in the MDR are warmer than average, we often get more than the average number of tropical storms and hurricanes from this region. Conversely, below average ocean temperatures can lead to less tropical storms than if waters were warmer.
Another aspect that we must keep in mind is that warmer waters in the MDR allows tropical waves, the formative engines that can become tropical storms, to get closer to the Caribbean and United States.
Another factor to consider is the end of the positive phase of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). This is a climate cycle that lasts roughly 50-80 years, with about half of that period seeing increased hurricane activity while the other half sees decreased activity.
The current upward swing began in 1995, and the index that measures AMO has been in the cold or decreased phase in recent years and is near its long-term average.
The AMO only has high-level effects on the tropics, and any effects from the cycle will need to be researched after the season is over.
Other factors that can be detrimental to tropical storm or hurricane development include dry air and wind shear.
The 2013 and 2014 seasons featured prohibitive dry air and/or wind shear during a significant part of the season, but El Niño was nowhere to be found.
This was the second April outlook issued since the passing of Dr. William Gray, noted hurricane researcher and emeritus professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University.
Gray, who died in April of 2016, was the creator of the yearly Atlantic hurricane season outlooks, which have been published every year since 1984. He developed the parameters for these outlooks in the late 1960s, which was considered ground-breaking research at that time.
While the key details of this forecast, such as who will see snow or rain, how much snow will fall, and how strong the offshore low becomes are not yet in focus this far out in time, the general setup is a familiar one.
The mid-week setup for the potential nor’easter.
Namely, a sharp southward plunge of the jet stream will carve into the East.
Responding to that, low pressure should form near or off the East Coast around the middle of next week.
Moisture will then wrap into sufficiently cold air near the surface to wring out areas of snow from the Ohio Valley to the Appalachians and Northeast.
You weathered the storm and flood. After all the warnings and speculation, precautions and concern, the worst is over, and your home is still standing. Standing in water, maybe, but intact. Now all that’s left to do, after counting your lucky stars, is buckle down and focus on flood restoration efforts.
Regardless of the extent of damage to your home, the task may seem overwhelming. After all, water has a way of seeping into the most inaccessible places and causing significant harm. The last thing you want to do is overlook key renovation details, ending up with more problems later as a result.
Below you’ll find specific information regarding complications to look out for when dealing with flood damage, as well as tips to help safeguard your home from further destruction in the future. When you contact First Restoration America we will take the worry and stress away from you and take care of everything when dealing with the flood damage. Give us a call today!
Check Your Foundation and Structure
Knowing that your house is standing and intact in no way precludes the possibility of foundation compromise. Check by first scrutinizing your exterior walls. Make sure the sight line from one corner to another, and top to bottom, is straight. If you note curvature or a bulge in the center, this may indicate your house has shifted.
Evaluate any chips or flakes found on foundation concrete. Poke firmly with a screwdriver. No area should be soft enough for a chunk to break off. Finally, look up and study your chimney. Does it have a definite lean to it?
Be aware of indoor structural signs that also indicate probable foundation movement:
Do you have posts in your basement? Are they at a strict 90-degree angle with the flooring?
Do the walls bow?
How about your crawl space? Roll a marble along the floor to make sure it’s not sagging. Do the same thing to any porches or stoops.
Windows, doors and floor tiles can also present tell-tale red flags. Do your doors open, close and latch smoothly? Are any of your windows stuck or difficult to seal close? If you haven’t dropped a heavy object directly on floor tiles, they should not be cracked. Neither should doorways and points where walls meet.
Look Around Outdoor Areas for Damage
Any of the above indicators point out the need to protect your home from further disrepair. During restoration, pay strict attention to the soil around your foundation and the slope at which it falls. Make sure surrounding soil slopes downward at an approximate grade of 6 inches for every 10 feet.
Clear drainage gutters and extend downspouts out at least 5 feet. Consider a rainwater catch system to further assure water does not seep into foundation walls.
Are there any mature trees planted close to the house? Their roots will draw water right where you don’t want it. Move deep-rooted plantings, and consider soaking the soil about half a foot around your home when it rains to prevent subsequent expansion and shrinking.
Look for Mold and Protect Your Home for the Future
Anytime water enters the drywall or wood of a structure, an excellent possibility of mold infestation follows, especially if the water is allowed to sit. Once mold spores begin to grow, they spread quickly.
Not always visible to the naked eye, mold may be a factor if you or your family members suddenly present marked allergy symptoms such as sneezing, upper respiratory congestion and labored breathing.
During flood restoration, keep the moisture level in your home low by:
Using fans, air conditioning, exhaust ventilation and dehumidifiers.
Removing soaked carpeting, rugs, curtains and upholstered furniture.
Considering re-flooring with hardwood or ceramic tile.
Re-evaluating your home’s insulation with an eye toward preventing habitual condensation. Pipes, windows and water tanks are common culprits.
Electrical issues associated with flood and water damage can be severely dangerous and should receive full evaluation. Be aware of any outlets that are hot, have a pervasive burning smell, or put off electrical shocks or sparks. If your lights flicker or do not work, check the circuit breaker with caution. If the panel, fuse box or fuses have been submerged, they must be replaced.
The same goes for your furnace or boiler, heat and air conditioning units, blowers, fans and lights. All household items that are motorized or run off a circuit board such as cell phones, computers, TVs and microwaves may be rendered inoperable. Keep careful records for insurance claims. Take pictures and try to include make, model and serial number codes.
Make sure you hire a licensed electrician to evaluate the damage and offer recommendations for raising electric ground components. You might also consider a more highly elevated location for your HVAC system, especially if it, too, requires full replacement.
Perhaps the best way to begin restoring your home after a flood is to contact First Restoration America, we have helped clients weather storms — and their aftermath — time and time again.
The following recommendations assume a flooding situation with horizontally traveling Category 3 (unsanitary) water containing silt and other contaminants have infiltrated into homes and businesses to a depth of a few inches or feet and remained for multiple days. When structures are completely submerged or remain substantially flooded for several weeks, more elaborate procedures may be required.
Foremost, consider safety:
Evacuate potentially respiratory or immune-compromised, or non-essential persons (e.g., children, the elderly, pregnant women; those recovering from extended illness or surgery, or those on regimens of prescription drugs or chemotherapy). When medical questions arise, consult with public health professionals.
Before entering a heavily flood-damaged structure, open windows and doors and air it out thoroughly. Ventilation must be maintained during and following the restoration effort. This reduces but does not eliminate, the potential for inhaling pathogenic (disease causing) microorganisms. Also, allow as much sunlight into the structure as practical, since fresh air and ultraviolet light help inhibit microorganism growth.
Consider the structural integrity of a damaged building before entering.Wear protective clothing, boots with steel or fiberglass shanks, and a hard hat. Have the building checked by a qualified builder or structural engineer when in doubt.
Ensure that electrical shock hazards have been eliminated. Consult a licensed and qualified electrician when questions arise.
Protect yourself from pathogenic microorganisms. Wear protective gloves before handling contaminated materials. Splash goggles should be worn to protect and prevent microorganism entry through the eyes. A vapor respirator (paint respirator) should be worn to prevent inhalation of most microorganisms or spores.
Remove quantities of debris (silt, vegetation, floating objects) with shovels, rakes or any safe means practical. Clean and sanitize all tools when complete.
Remove and dispose of drywall (Sheetrock®), paneling or other wall materials up to a point 15-24″ inches above the visible water line. If practical, stay within four feet of the floor to salvage as much wall material as practical since drywall is usually installed horizontally in 4’x8’ or 4’x12’ panels.
Remove and dispose of insulation materials exposed during wall removal. Look for evidence of moisture wicking up insulation materials. Leave only materials that are durable, dry and minimally porous, and which can be cleaned and decontaminated with relative ease.
Remove and dispose of carpet, cushion, pad, felt and sheet vinyl, or laminate flooring materials. Porous materials may absorb considerable quantities of water and contaminant, and non-porous materials may trap moisture to prolong drying. The inevitable result will be rapid microbial growth, along with associated odor and potential health hazards. Solid wood flooring should be removed since contaminants and moisture collect underneath in hollow areas between the wood and subfloor. The following procedures may require the assistance of a professional water-damage restorer, who has specialized biocides, and application and extraction equipment.
While maintaining ventilation and respiratory protection, liberally spray durable salvageable materials (e.g., studs, decking, joists) with appropriate biocides. Household chlorine bleach (e.g., Clorox®) mixed 1 part bleach to 11 parts water (½%) may be used on durable, colorfast surfaces. Never mix chlorine bleach with ammonia or strong acids!
Following application of properly diluted biocides, brush agitate all areas to remove visible soils and to encourage biocide penetration into cracks and crevices. Professional restorers use pressurized spraying to accomplish this step.
When fresh water is restored within the structure, flush contaminants from salvageable surfaces with a water hose or pressure washer. Work from top to bottom and from walls to flooring.
Wet vacuum or mop up excess rinse water from flooring materials immediately. Thoroughly flush all contamination from wall frames. Pressure washing, if available, is specifically recommended to flush contaminants from hard-to-access areas, following contaminated water removal with industrial wet vacuuming equipment.
Repeat steps 6-9 as necessary, until all surfaces are clean and contamination is physically removed.
Lightly spray a final application of an approved non-chlorinated disinfectant to all salvageable surfaces.
Dry structural components with plenty of air circulation, while maintaining constant ventilation (weather conditions permitting). If practical, take advantage of low outside humidity (check local weather reports). Use oscillating or box fans, moving them around the structure every few hours. Avoid temperature extremes that might slow drying or promote microorganism growth (68-86oF/20-30oC is ideal for growth). Rent high-volume professional drying equipment (airmovers and dehumidifiers) if available, especially in areas where ventilation is not possible (sealed buildings, security issues). All electrical components that were below the water line should be checked for operational safety by a qualified contractor.
Leave cleaned structural surfaces exposed for several days or even weeks,or until you are sure that they have returned to within four percentage points of normal moisture content (generally the normal moisture content of structural wood is around 10%). Otherwise, subsequent structural damage and health hazards can result after wall and flooring materials have been replaced or painted.
Durable, colorfast contents (e.g., washable clothing, dishes, glassware, furniture) might be salvageable if washed in warm detergent solutions. Common sense and caution should be used in determining contents salvageability.
To prevent mold growth on structural materials, property owners should contact First Restoration America to evaluate moisture levels in structural materials before reconstruction. If you would like more information on mold cleanup CLICK HERE.
Cold temperatures can cause pipes to freeze. Many landlords are afraid they will get this call from a tenant during the winter months. There are, however, steps you can take to prevent this problem. Learn six tips to keep the pipes on your property from freezing.
The Facts About Frozen Pipes
Only A Cold Climate Problem?
This is not the case. Many mistakenly believe that frozen pipes are only an issue for those in typically cold climates.
However, the homes that are actually more vulnerable to frozen pipes are those in typically warmer climates because the pipes may not be properly insulated against such frigid temperatures.
Frozen Pipes Can Burst
Frozen pipes are a problem by themselves because they prevent water flow, but even worse, frozen pipes can eventually burst, causing damage and potential flooding. The good news is, there are six easy steps you can take to help prevent this problem from occurring when the temperatures drop.
Tip #1: Keep the Heat On
If you or your tenants are leaving for a period of time, make sure that the heat is kept on your property. It may be difficult to convince your tenants to leave their heat on when they are away, especially if they are responsible for paying their own utilities. You should inform them that the heat can help prevent pipes from freezing, and if pipes freeze and burst, it can cause a lot of water damage to the property and to their possessions.
The heat does not have to be kept as high as you normally would keep it if you were actually in the property, but keeping it set above 50 degrees Fahrenheit is a good idea. This should provide enough heat to keep the pipes warm and to prevent any water inside from freezing.
Tip #2: Allow Faucet to Drip
If you are afraid a pipe will freeze, you can allow the faucet to drip slightly.
Allowing the faucet to be open like this will relieve pressure in the system. If a pipe freezes, it is actually the pressure that is created between the blockage and the faucet that will cause the pipe to burst. Allowing the faucet to be open will prevent this pressure from building up and thus, keep the pipe from bursting.
Tip #3: Keep Interior Doors Open
Pipes are often located in cabinets. When the temperatures drop, it is a good idea to keep these cabinet doors open so that the heat from the rest of the house can keep the pipes warm as well. You should also keep all interior doors open so that the heat can flow throughout the home.
Tip #4: Seal Up Cracks and Holes
You should caulk any holes or cracks that exist near pipes. This should be done on both interior and exterior walls. Doing so can help keep the cold air out and the warm air in.
Tip #5: Apply Heating Tape
For pipes that are easily accessible, the electrical heating tape may be an option to keep them from freezing. This tape can be applied directly to the pipe.
There are two types of heating tape. One type of heating tape turns on and off by itself when it senses heat is needed. The other type of heating tape needs to be plugged in when heat is needed and unplugged when not in use.
Much like a space heater, these products can be dangerous, so you must follow the product’s direction and safety procedures exactly.
Tip #6: Add Extra Insulation
Pipes that are located in areas that do not have proper insulation, such as basements or attics, may need extra insulation to keep from freezing. Pipes in basements or attics are not the only ones that may not be properly insulated from the cold. If you have had a problem with pipes freezing anywhere in your home, extra insulation could be the cure.
Pipes can be fitted with foam rubber or fiberglass sleeves to help decrease the chances of freezing. This can be an easy solution for pipes that are exposed but can get expensive if walls, floors or ceilings have to be opened in order to properly insulate the pipe. Additional insulation can also be added to walls and ceilings to keep the pipes warm.
Louisiana’s governor has declared a state of emergency in New Orleans as officials and residents scrambled in the aftermath of last Saturday’s heavy storm that left hundreds of homes and businesses flooded.
With more rain in the forecast, New Orleans leaders rushed to deal with a series of malfunctions in the city’s drainage system — and to face criticism of local officials who waited days to reveal the full extent of system failures.
The city has struggled with its unique drainage system for years. Century-old pumps are in constant need of repair, catch basins repeatedly clog, and potholes and sinkholes form seemingly everywhere.
Because of New Orleans’ unusual topography — with many areas below sea level and protected by levees — pumps in every neighborhood must suck rainwater out of storm drains and canals and push it into a nearby lake or other water bodies. In most other places, gravity does that work.
This time, unlike during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, a huge amount of rain falling in a very short period of time caused the flooding. The rain tested the drainage system — not the chain of levees, flood walls and pumps that the federal government built after Katrina.
Here’s what the recent flooding looks like by the numbers:
10 inches of rain
Within three to four hours on Saturday, as much as 8 to 10 inches of rain fell across New Orleans.
Randy Davis, manager at the Circle Food Store, mops the floor after the store flooded during Saturday’s torrential rains in New Orleans
“The rate of rainfall in many neighborhoods of the city was one of the highest recorded in recent history,” the city said in a news release.
The storms caused widespread street flooding, damaging “a couple hundred” properties,” city officials said, contrasting the figure to more than 200,000 properties ruined in Katina.
The storms caused a 100-year flood, meaning there’s usually only a 1% chance that a flood of such magnitude could happen in any given year, the National Weather Service determined.
“There is no drainage system in the world that can handle that immediately,” outgoing Sewerage & Water Board Executive Director Cedric Grant told CNN affiliate WDSU.
The drainage pumps can process 1 inch of rain in the first hour of a heavy storm, then a 1/2 inch in each subsequent hour, Grant said.
16 drainage pumps failed
New Orleans uses 121 pumps across the city’s neighborhoods to suck water out of storm drains and canals and push it out of the levee-enclosed basin.
About 100 of those pumps are huge — some as big as a garage — and are key to draining rainwater; the rest are small and constantly working to clear the streets of runoff from lawn-watering and other daily water usage.
Sixteen pumps were out of service over the weekend, making things even worse for a drainage system that already was working above its capacity, and streets began flooding. Six of those pumps were big ones located in neighborhoods that got the most rain; two others were big ones elsewhere in the city. The other eight were the smaller, constant-duty pumps.
4 of 5 power turbines out of service
The problems continued piling up for New Orleanians throughout the week.
A fire late Wednesday took out one of four turbines that power the city’s oldest, strongest pumps. The other three turbines had been offline for weeks or months for repairs. A fifth turbine has been pressed into action to operate the oldest pumps, but only 38 of the 58 available pumps can be run at one time, city officials have said.
It all means the drainage capacity in the oldest part of the city, including the French Quarter, essentially has been cut in half. (Pumps in the newer parts of New Orleans largely run on commercial or diesel power and are chugging along, though a few are out of service for routine repairs, officials have said.)
City officials late Thursday began testing repairs to the turbine that broke the previous night, the city said in a news release. Meantime, some of the 26 generators that officials ordered in light of the system failures started to arrive, though it could take several more days to configure and install them, they said.
With the city’s pumping capacity weakened and a new round of severe weather threatening the city, Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency Thursday, and some city schools will remain closed Friday.
$2 billion repairs
Ten years after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, New Orleans in 2015 was awarded $2 billion in grants to fix roads and infrastructure by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A portion of that money is earmarked for drainage system repairs, CNN affiliate WGNO reported.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said this week that those repairs and improvements are still ongoing — adding that the federal money is just a fraction of the $9 billion experts say is needed to update the system.
The pumps that drain rainwater from New Orleans’ streets are not the same pumps that the US Army Corps of Engineers built after Katrina as part of a $14 billion effort to fortify the city against tropical events.
4 city officials asked to resign
Landrieu, who as mayor serves as president of the Sewerage & Water Board, requested the resignations of four top officials, including the director and the top engineer at the municipal water utility, amid confusion over why water lingered for hours after Saturday’s deluge.
City leaders at first said the drainage system was “operating at its maximum capabilities,” CNN affiliate WDSU reported. Days later, some of the same officials admitted key pumps that serve flooded neighborhoods had been out of service.
“I completely and totally understand and feel the people’s frustration after the flood, and more importantly some of the misinformation that they have been given,” Landrieu said at a news conference earlier this week.
Water utility employees and the director of the city’s Public Works Department will leave their jobs in the coming weeks and months, a city spokesperson said. At least one Sewerage & Water Board member also reportedly has resigned.
Active weather will continue across parts of the U.S. today, with severe thunderstorms producing large hail and damaging winds across southern Texas and the Southeast.
A barrage of violent thunderstorms across southern Texas will be triggered by strong daytime heating, which will destabilize the atmosphere, and allow for strong to severe thunderstorms to erupt later today. The Storm Prediction Center has issued a Slight Risk for severe weather in southern Texas, which includes Corpus Christi, Laredo and Brownsville, Texas. These cities will all be at risk for a dangerous encounter with severe thunderstorms this afternoon and evening. The main threats will be hail greater than the size of quarters and damaging wind gusts of 55 to 65 mph.
Another zone of severe weather will develop along a stalled front across in the Southeast this evening, from southeastern Alabama through Georgia to southern South Carolina. Here, the Storm Prediction Center has issued a Slight Risk for severe weather, which includes the cities of Columbus and Savannah, Ga., and Charleston, S.C.
Reports of severe weather were common on Monday throughout the southern High Plains, Texas and Oklahoma. Wind gusts of 60-80 mph and hail up the size of quarters blasted many locations across New Mexico and Texas.
Be sure to understand the difference between a severe thunderstorm or tornado watch and a warning. A watch means that an area is being monitored for dangerous weather. A warning means that dangerous weather is imminent. When a warning is issued, there may be too little time to travel across town or across a county to escape the storm. The time to have a plan of action and move to the general vicinity of a storm shelter or safe area is when a watch is issued.
Keep in mind that lightning is one of Mother Nature’s most dangerous killers. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to the storm to be struck by lightning, even if the sun is shining.