It’s back to school time for students of all ages, and with this comes numerous extracurricular activities. Some of the most popular activities are sports, both competitive and intramural. When it comes to sports, an athlete, fan, or coach also has to pay attention to something else: the weather.
Most schools have divided their sports based on the season of the year: fall, winter, and spring. While they do not quite meet up with the meteorological or astronomical definition of the season, each sport has to deal with its own threat. For example, many high school and college football teams play in the fall, but they practice throughout their summer breaks. As a result, teams have to contend with the heat. Players have to worry about heat exhaustion and heat stroke, along with learning how their coaches want to play.
Some school districts will take practices indoors when the heat index is over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Yet, for some sports, such as football, this only applies to practices and not during season games. Even when the practices are indoors for football, teams may not be able to practice as per standards because of the size of the program and lack of proper equipment within their facilities.
So, fall teams have to deal with the dog days of summer, but they also have to deal with the first taste of winter. As the season comes to a close, some teams will be playing in sleet and cold conditions. Now, players have to worry about hypothermia and finding ways to stay loose and limber. Some teams will be lucky enough to play indoors due to how their sport is played, but some, like football, will not be as lucky.
These weather changes occur quickly as well, so players have to worry about becoming ill Most winter sports are indoors, but for those who play in the spring, they have to contend with the same issues as the fall sports. Spring sports have to deal with the transitions that the fall sees, only in reverse order. Winter still can hold a grasp at the beginning, but towards the end, the first rays of summer can cause the same issues.
So, as athletes practice for their sport, how can they stay safe in various weather conditions? For the heat, the Center for Disease Prevention states that practices should be taking place during the cooler parts of the day, and longer breaks should be taken. They also recommend that heavy clothing should be limited in usage because of the heat.
As for the cold weather, athletes should dress in layers and should watch out for hazards like ice. Extremities should not be excluded when dressing up in layers because these areas are the first to experience frostbite. Athletes should also drink plenty of fluids despite not realizing the importance of remaining hydrated during the colder and warmer months equally.
While the weather poses its threats to sports throughout the school year, coaches, athletes, and spectators alike will enjoy them. Best of luck this sports season, and remember to watch the weather before playing.
To look at more articles about weather safety, be sure to go to https://www.globalweatherclimatecenter.com/weather-safety-educational-topics .
©2019 Weather Forecaster Shannon Sullivan
If you’ve seen a hurricane forecast, you’ve probably seen a graphic like the one below for Tropical Storm Dorian (as of August 27, 2019, 8:00 am):
There’s a lot going on in this graphic, but let’s focus on the cone. This is the white shaded or polka-dotted part of the map that is shaped like, well, a cone. The cone, as described in the graphic, represents the probable path of the storm center. But let’s break it down even further.
The black circles in the center of the cone show the forecasted classification of the storm at the noted day/time. In this case, Tropical Storm Dorian is projected to remain a tropical storm (sustained winds 39-73 miles per hour) as it travels towards Florida.
The white shaded portion of the cone represents the potential track from the time the forecast is issued until three days out. It is shaded because there is more certainty in the forecast to three days out than there is to five days out, which is represented by the white dotted portion of the cone. Although forecasters are less sure of the storm track four to five days out, this can help with hurricane preparation. People living in or near the dotted part of the cone should be sure to take the appropriate cautionary measures. In some cases, like 2017’s Hurricane Irma, this is evacuation. However, Tropical Storm Dorian may not have the same devastating impact as Irma. Precautionary measures should include stocking up on nonperishable food, one gallon of water per person per day, and making sure to have a method of receiving weather information. A portable power bank for a cell phone is a good idea to have, so that you can keep your cell phone charged to make calls, send texts, and receive information from the National Weather Service. NWS also offers a weather radio app that can be downloaded from the iTunes store or Google Play. Of course, monitor your local forecast and listen to any advice given by local officials.
But why is the cone shaped like a cone? The closer in time to the forecast, the more confidence forecasters have in the storm path. The farther out you go, the more uncertain the storm path. The cone gets wider because it encompasses the wider range of tracks that the storm’s center could take.
It is important to remember that the cone does not represent the size of the storm, only potential tracks for the storm’s center. As the graphic says, hazardous conditions can occur outside of the cone! If you live near the edges of the cone, you, too, should prepare for stormy weather.
©2019 Meteorologist Margaret Orr
Image Source: https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/refresh/graphics_at5+shtml/204140.shtml?cone
Lighthouses are beautiful, a nautical symbol of land and safety; a shoreline guardian to sailors for centuries. They bring nostalgia of long days on the beach and hot summers, but these beautiful structures are consistently in the face of earth’s ferocity. It’s not always at the forefront of someone's mind, but most lighthouses stand in the most vulnerable parts of our shorelines. Whether it be out on a thin piece of land, a thin rocky jetty or small patch of beach, they can be the first to face natural disasters that come with the sea. As we move forward in another hurricane season, it’s interesting to reflect on lighthouses and what they do to prepare for hurricanes.
Lighthouse keepers have a tremendous responsibility when preparing for disasters such as hurricanes. Depending on the probability of hurricanes in their location, they often have a well-designed disaster plan. It’s important to know that not all lighthouses have the same disaster plan. This is due to not being located in the same area and may face different elements. This shows that certain lighthouses have a higher risk than others. But they do tend to follow the same generalized protocol when preparing for disaster.
Lighthouse disaster sequence has three stages: Preparation, Response, and Recovery. In preparation for a hurricane, a lighthouse keeper will first perform a risk assessment. This is an assessment of the vulnerability of the lighthouse when facing elements of disaster that coincide with a hurricane. These elements of disaster tend to be strong winds, heavy rain, large waves and rising surf. All of which bring hazards such as flooding, broken windows, damage to building structure and so forth. The vulnerability of the lighthouse is dependent on a few different variables such as location and hurricane strength. Some lighthouses are further inland than others and some tend to be sticking out on a thin piece of rock surrounded by water. The lighthouse on the jetty, may be more susceptible to the elements of a hurricane than a lighthouse that is further inland. A lighthouse keeper may assess a lighthouse’s vulnerability based off the hurricane strength and direction by keeping updated on the weather. Once a lighthouse keeper assesses the situation, they may prioritize based on the highest probable threat. For example, if flooding is a large hazard, they may have duplicate records and inventory elsewhere in case the originals get wet. Depending on the lead time of warnings, they may start to block open spaces that could let in flood water. Other methods of preparation such as having an emergency contact list and extra supplies, will be performed as well as assigning disaster response duties to certain staff members.
In response to a disaster, depending on the lead time of warnings, lighthouse keepers will follow protocol of their disaster plan to minimize injury and loss. With advanced notice, such as with a hurricane, lighthouse keepers will board windows and block openings where water can enter. They may also move records and inventory to keep away from possible water damage. In the case where the threat of disaster becomes an emergency, the cardinal rule for lighthouse keepers is “people first”. The first thing any lighthouse keeper will do if there is imminent danger, is to evacuate visitors and staff, then lead them to safety.
In the recovery stage of the disaster sequence, a lighthouse keeper will first attend to any injury or fatality by either calling emergency services or performing on site medical attention. Next, they will proceed to evaluate damages by touring the building and area for possible safety hazards such as downed power lines, broken glass, etc. Once it is safe, they will start the process of repairs. They may perform this by filing insurance claims, cleaning up, and removing flood water. Recovery of loss and damages will be dependent on site, building and environmental conditions. It could take anywhere from a day to weeks depending on the extremity of the damage.
As strong and sturdy as they seem, lighthouses are the most vulnerable when it comes to hurricanes. Lighthouses can be damaged or swept away by the surf. It is extremely important for a disaster plan to be in place for those who serve in a lighthouse. This way it’s ensured that loss and damages as well as injuries and fatalities may be reduced. All so that our lighthouses may continue to stand tall and guide our ships safely to shore.
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© 2019 Meteorologist Alex Maynard