Extreme Weather Hits Home – Weblog

February 15, 2008

Unusual February Tornados

Filed under: High Winds — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — John Banta @ 5:15 am


Last month I posted that we were experiencing unusually early tornadoes in January. This unusual activity is continuing on into February with deadly results. Tornados can occur in any month, but they usually don’t become frequent until April peaking in August. This year we have already had a record setting number of tornados (291 by February 14th).  According to the Institute for Business and Home Safety

“In 2001, a total of 1,081 tornadoes hit 43 states and killed 37 people.” “The only other year on record when the total number of tornadoes went over 1,000 was in 1973 when a record number of 1,102 twister hits.”



Pretty incredible!


On January 1, 2008 I started a new blog called 1:5:10:365. On it I am posting a daily tip for becoming a better steward for our homes and planet. Today I posted an out of order tip regarding emergency alert radios.

Please check out my new blog at: 



January 29, 2008

Explanation for Hurricane Reduction

Filed under: High Winds — Tags: , , , , — John Banta @ 8:07 am

According to an article published by Reuters, scientists have published a study in the Geophysical Research Letters Journal that indicates rising ocean temperatures may create conditions that reduce the number of hurricanes by causing a vertical wind shear that tears the Atlantic Ocean storms apart at different altitudes and prevents the hurricane from being able to form. http://uk.reuters.com/article/email/idUKN23640879._CH_.242020080123

If this is true it would means that hurricanes would have a limited temperature range in which they can form. If the ocean is too cold – there isn’t enough energy. If the ocean is too hot – the energy is too extreme and leads to an atomosheric chaos too great for storms to form.

If this is true – it demonstrates further that we have a lot to learn about our climate and the extremes that are being produced.

I’m not a climatologist but if I am reading this correctly, this study may help explain the Atlantic hurricane respite we have experienced over the last two years. It may also help explain the increase in hurricanes and tropical storms hitting the west coast of Mexico and Southern California.

My book Extreme Weather Hits Home has lots of information about how to prepare our buildings to better withstand these uncertain times and the extreme and constantly shifting conditions . If you can’t find it at your local bookseller, ask them to order it.

January 8, 2008

Tornadoes in January

Filed under: Rising Temperatures — Tags: , , , — John Banta @ 4:19 am

Unseasonably warm weather has resulted in rare January tornadoes in Missouri, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Illinois and Oklahoma. More warm weather in the midwest and tornadoes are expected to continue for another day.

 Temperature records for January were set in Buffalo, Toledo, Atlantic City New Jersey and Chicago.


December 4, 2007

Northwest Flooding – Art Restoration

Filed under: Flooding — Tags: , , , , — John Banta @ 1:26 pm

Extreme Weather Hits Home

The flooding in the Northwest this week has prompted me to republish this information from from Heather Becker with the Chicago Conservation Center www.chicagoconservation.com. They specialize in the restoration of art and collectibles. I have seen them do some truly amazing restorations of items that I would have thought impossible.  I have seen a painting that was almost completely covered with mold growth after a water damage that was cleaned and restored to a condition that looks better than before the damage occurred. This is because they don’t just remove the damage, but the years of accumulated dirt.  The following by Heather was originally written in response to a question about fire damage from the California fires, but also applies to water damage as well.

Comment by Heather Becker“Action Steps” for emergency response to art and fine furniture damages:

* Never assume an item is a loss. Soot, fire, water, and mold damages can often be recovered and conserved by a professional conservation expert. Conservators should employ non-invasive and reversible techniques and methods when ever possible.
* As soon as the property can be safely entered, immediately document in situ and contact your experts/conservators. They can then advise on the process of removing all items of concern. Items should be moved as soon as possible to a controlled area off to the side where they can be kept safe from further damage.
* As items are removed, they should be inventoried with a brief written notation and photographed. Numbering each item and creating an inventory will assist in the management of the recovery process. Although it is important to address the items in a timely manner, a few moments spent ensuring precise records are kept can be invaluable to the smooth handling of the claim.
* During recovery, if pieces become structurally unsound be sure to retain all components where possible and keep these together. Bag and label any pieces which come loose for easy identification.
* During the recovery stage, all items that can be removed should be considered for possible triage and conservation.
* Where necessary, items should be dried under controlled conditions, with humidity levels reduced slowly in order to avoid additional stress on the art. Art should not be dried in the sun or under direct heat and should not be exposed to rapid fluctuations in temperature or humidity.
* Property should be transported as soon as possible to a conservation center for immediate triage if and when necessary. When dealing with high-end property, conservation experts or professional art handlers should assist with the arrangements to transport items in a climate controlled, air ride vehicle. Books and works of art on paper can be shipped in coolers with ice packs so that they can be kept cool and damp.
* When handling wet items where the threat of mold growth is present, wear protective clothing when necessary such as tyvek suits, respirators, goggles, boots and gloves.
* Wet items with mold growth should be carefully cleaned under controlled conditions to minimize dispersal of spores and halt the process of contamination.
* During triage, conservators will carefully review each piece and undertake controlled drying as necessary.
* Once items are stabilized, a conservator should prepare a thorough condition report of each piece and provide detailed treatment recommendations for review. This process should include consultation with the clients to determine which items are eligible for conservation and expected treatment outcomes.

The Chicago Conservation Center
refer to “collection tips” on the website for more educational information regarding collection care

Comment by Heather Becker — October 26, 2007 @ 5:41 pm

November 19, 2007

Draft of IPCC 4th Report Posted

Filed under: Global warming — Tags: , , , , — John Banta @ 8:11 am


The fourth and final part of the IPCC’s 2007 report has been posted in draft from and can be accessed at: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr_spm.pdf

 Some highlights include:

Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level,”

“Eleven of the last twelve years (1995-2006) rank among the twelve warmest years in the instrumental record of global surface temperature (since 1850) … The temperature increase is widespread over the globe, and is greater at higher northern latitudes … Land regions have warmed faster than the oceans.”

Responses to some recent extreme events reveal higher levels of vulnerability than the Third Assessment Report. There is now higher confidence in the projected increases in droughts, heatwaves, and floods as well as their adverse impacts.”

An introductory slide show is at: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/presentations/pachauri-un_nyc_2007-09-07.pdf

October 14, 2007

Study ties Increasing Humidity to Global Warming


 The October 11, 2007 edition of the Journal Nature reported humidity levels are increasing and that this is consistent with predictions for global warming. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7038278.stm

This further supports my contention that many buildings in the northern part of the U.S. and Canada are going to be more likely to trap moisture in the walls and other building cavities. As buildings in the north experience higher levels of humidity, they will experience conditions more typical of the southern United States. The presence of a vapor barrier on the interior of a building is more likely to allow condensation moisture to form in wall cavities when outdoor conditions are hotter and more humid. I provide a much more detailed explanation of moisture flow in buildings in my book. I also discuss how to predict when conditions will allow moisture to become trapped and how to prevent the problem. One of the tools I suggest is the WUFI model for moisture flow in buildings. This can be downloaded at http://www.ornl.gov/sci/btc/apps/moisture/index.html

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