A family in Nevada has been missing since Sunday when the six members headed out to an area known by hunters to stay out of in snowy weather. No contact has been made, nor has the vehicle been located. Searchers from four Nevada countries, as well as emergency personnel are out looking for signs of people or their vehicle. Temperatures are dropping to 10 above zero with the snow on the ground. Being out in that cold temperatures bodes ill. Unless people have survival skills, they will freeze to death.
Record snowfall creates problems with those who like pristine snow. Avalanches don't always announce their launch point or time. They just let go, and not all those who are out there return. Some are entombed in the snow. This applies to towns in snowy parts of the globe. Sure, a town 100s of years old has charm, but what will it have when it is covered with snow and all the people are too?
In the summer, people head out to the state and federal lands to "get away". Some of them come back in body bags; some not at all. Forests are generally safe places to be, until a heavy rainstorm drops inches of rain per square foot and that nice place on the side of the hill or the dry canyon becomes a roaring current, capable of moving boulders. People, tents and vehicles are nothing to move. They will be found miles downstream.
When the rain doesn't come, the forests burn. Thousands of acres of trees, houses and the infrequent town burn every year. Sometimes the people do, too. Areas of the world are drying out and so are the forests. Yet, as in other places, people are loathe to move just because a fire got too close. They treasure the out-of-the-rat-race area they live in. Maybe they will be spared; maybe they won't.
Tornadoes are a common sight in the prairie and southern states, mostly in the spring. They usually follow a cold front, which spreads out from the tight circle into a frontal boundary spanning America, and sometimes into Canada. Warm moist air from the Gulf of Mexico rises and collides with the cold dry air behind the front. Years with La Nina in control are heavier for F5 twisters. Traditional places for people to collect have been blown apart when one of these mile-wide 200mph plus twisters roars through the countryside or the middle of town. What happened to storm cellars? Why are we allowed to build sub-standard buildings in area known for tornadoes? Dozens of people die every year and hundreds during peak years.
With the inner-mountain west, not all are aware of when a Pressure Gradient occurs. A high pressure ridge rotates clockwise; low pressure troughs rotate counter-clockwise. Put the two together and winds of 100mph are not uncommon. This wind can uproot trees, destroy signs and generally make a mess.
Hurricanes are another known summer fact. From June 30 to November 30, we can count on at least a tropical storm affecting some part of America, from Texas up to Vermont. Yet, we have people who insist on living close to the seashore, so when a 10' storm-surge comes on shore, they get flooded. Sandy was called a "Super storm" Well, one nor'easterner, added to Sandy, augmented by high tide and a full moon created a storm that rocked, rolled and flooded. People in New York were aghast at the damage and claimed they hadn't seen anything like it. Check the history of hurricanes on the East Coast. If anything, storms have become less frequent in the time since 1900. But, they will show up. Other parts of America have their own problems with hurricanes. Once they make landfall, they are usually down-graded to a tropical storm packing record wind and rain. Just because people live hundreds of miles from the coast doesn't mean they will escape unscathed.
All areas of America has experienced heavy rainfall. On flat ground, it slowly moves downhill; on a steeper slope or the side of a mountain, it will flow very rapidly. In areas like that west of the Colorado Rockies, the water will head towards the Pacific Ocean. East of the Rockies it becomes part of the Mississippi River Watershed, which extends into Southern Canada. When summer storms park over an area, low-pressure systems get cut off the jet-stream and stalls or a pattern of wetter weather occur, that sends extra water down the rivers that feed into the Mississippi. Lack of rain is called a drought; excess is a flood. These floods were known to the natives who lived in that area. They knew about every 14 years, the tops of the trees would be the only thing seen for miles. They wisely steered clear during high water events. All this water comes downhill into a river hemmed in by levees. Every wet year we hear stories about and those who live there live through breached levees. The natives knew the water would spread out and soak in and bring much needed nutrients to the soil. What kind of nutrients does the Mississippi carry now? Tons, which go out to the ocean, along with fertilizers and other chemicals that today's farmer uses. Land that is coated by the chemical-laden sand cause the owners to spend thousands of dollars to have it removed so they can plant the next year. When a levee fails or is destroyed, the thousands of gallons of water per second gouge a ditch hundreds of feet deep.
In southern California, they say it never rains, unless it pours. When that happens, the mountain slides down the hill onto, or taking the town with it. When it doesn't rain, the warm, moist air off the Pacific flows inland. It then turns 180 degrees and blows back out to the ocean. It is no longer warm and moist. It is now hot and dry. Hundreds of houses, cars and outdoor buildings are at risk of fire when the Santa Ana winds crank up. Yet, more people move there and landscape with non-native plants that burn. They build homes out of materials that will burn with that wind.
All over the globe people must live or choose to live in an area that is at risk for some weather occurrence. Every year people go out, but don't all come back. Every year searches are undertaken. Insurance costs go up. Laws are enacted to prevent this from happening again. And every year, it is repeated again. It is as if we think if we ignore it, it will go away, or it will happen to the other guy. What happens if you are that other guy? What will you do? Move when the town moves? Move independently? What will you do when you hear the roar of a forest fire or the sound of a locomotive signals the approach of a tornado? How many sandbags is enough? What will you do when the mountainside lets loose and covers your home? Rebuild? How many people who live in "safer" areas have to see their insurance rates go up because people want their grand-parents home rebuilt on the land they homesteaded when the climate was drier? Spreading the costs all across the board means all people will be carrying the burden of those who live in areas known for higher rates of rebuilding. When will insurance companies start capping the number of times or total cost of a rebuild? When will they refuse to carry these people as long as they insist on staying? When will laws be enacted to make storm cellars necessary again? When will people start thinking for themselves and rely on their savings or move out of the area, instead of having the policyholders or taxpayers foot the bill?