Today in history: the mystery flood of 1607

Today is the 410th anniversary of an event that affected the southwest England and Wales.  Around noon on January 30th, 1607, the sea rose dramatically in low-lying areas of the Bristol Channel, inundating areas as far as 14 miles from the coast and submerging them under as much as nearly 8 meters of water.

1607 flood

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Japan has a false alarm too

Good Lord, what is going on with the world?

After Hawaii just suffered through a scary false alarm of a ballistic missile attack, now Japan has also had a false alarm, this one sent out by Japanese broadcaster NHK by mistake.

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Sometimes, fear is a good thing

As a part-time first responder who is interested in emergency management, disaster recovery, and safety in general, I read pretty much everything related to those topics that I can get my hands on, including a lot of stuff about how people respond in a crisis.  It’s fascinating stuff, and some really excellent books have been written about it, such as  Amanda Ripley’s The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes – And Why

A side effect of this is that I have started paying attention to what I would call “unusual” deaths and accidents.  People keep doing things that I would consider to be pretty damn unsafe, and it costs them.  Recent examples are plenty.  A man leaves the designated paths at Yellowstone, and falls into a spring that is so high-temperature and acidic that there is literally no body to recover.  A young man accidentally shoots himself while taking a selfie with a pistol.  A tourist in Australia goes swimming at 10 at night in an area clearly marked with signs warning about crocodiles and gets killed by a crocodile over 14 feet long.  Or the guy in Georgia back in March who decided that it would be cool to pack an old lawnmower with 3 pounds of Tannerite and then shoot at it from only 40 feet away.  He blew off his own leg, and the whole thing was caught on video.

And I realized that what all of these people had in common was this: a lack of fear.  Specifically, a lack of what I would consider to be the healthy kind of fear.

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The science and history of rogue waves, part three

I found another good video on YouTube about rogue waves, and this one actually talks at length about the dangers to offshore platforms and people on shore from rogue waves, using actual recent historical examples.

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April 15th is another eventful date

Well.  April 15th is another day that it seems like so many things happened throughout history.  And for the most part, it seems like it has been a date on which a lot of truly tragic things happened.  Honestly, I can only think of one really cool thing that happened on this date: it was the day that Jackie Robinson first debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.  And as big a fan of baseball as I am, and as happy as I am about how far my favorite sport has come since that time, I can’t help but contrast that event with all the other terrible, tragic things that have happened on this day.

Of course, the most immediate thing for me is that this is the 3rd anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing.  Hard to believe it has already been three years.  But I am glad that Boston had really come together and bounced back.

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Don’t call up Bruce Willis yet, but…

a fairly sizable asteroid has been spotted on a trajectory that gives it a fairly decent chance (about 1 in 4,000)  of striking the Earth.   That is actually better odds than the chance you will get killed in a traffic accident any time you get in a car (1 in 6,700).  At one point the odds were actually being calculated at 1 in 300.  So this particular object has raised a few eyebrows, to put it mildly.    Enough that some people think it would be time to call the drilling crew together.   Or something.

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When suburban uniformity and reality collide

It is difficult to overstate the importance of water for life. It’s one of the reasons why so many human cities and human civilizations sprung up in places next to rivers or lakes where fresh water was plentiful. And in many places the bringing in of fresh water is one of the first public utilities to appear. Even here in Boston, a public water system was available by the end of the 18th century.
So how is it that in the 21st century, we have so many places, not just in the developing world but right here in the United States, that are struggling just to provide potable water for their population?
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Refusing to learn from experience

Sometimes, there is some wisdom in doing something yourself so you can actually understand it.  Regarding the winter weather debacle in Georgia, this is NOT one of those times.   This is not the sort of thing you want to figure out for yourself, any more than you want your architect to forget about silly things like plans so you can just “play it by ear”.  Learn from the wisdom and experience of others.  Hell, learn from your own experience, Atlanta.   It’s been only 3 years since your last winter storm nightmare.  Besides, your traffic is gridlocked in perfect weather on a normal day.  I have been there, I know.  Whenever I was driving to Macon for the weekend, I avoided Atlanta completely.  What made you think having everyone go home at the same time during a snowstorm was a good idea?

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Tacloban, Samar Island, and two very different storms

After more than a week, many survivors of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines are still struggling to get basics like food, water and shelter.  And places like Samar, Leyte, and Tacloban are now getting mentioned in the news all over the world.  Samar and Leyte seem to have been hit the worst from the typhoon.

I know these place names.  Not because I have ever been there (I haven’t), but because of their famous place in history – specifically, in the fall of 1944, when the Allied invasion of the Japanese-occupied Philippines led to what was the largest naval battle in all of World War Two, and possibly the largest in recorded human history.

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Terrible news from the Philippines

Now that Typhoon Haiyan has passed over the Philippines and headed west towards Vietnam, the people there have had a chance to begin initial assessments of the damage done, and it doesn’t look good.  One observer has described the scene as “apocalyptic”.  Some areas are so devastated that there is no communication from them at all.   Accurate assessments of casualties at this point are impossible, but it looks as if the loss of life will easily be in the hundreds, if not the thousands.

If you have any ability to help at all, here’s some groups that are assisting with relief efforts: the Philippine Red Cross; the World Food Program; Shelter Box; and Americares.

-Geoff