Weather

Chicago Area Threatened By Severe Weather Thursday

There was plenty of talk tonight on the local news about the prospect of severe weather Thursday in the Chicago area and elsewhere in Midwest. Jon Erdman reported tonight on the Weather Channel website:

A multi-day severe weather outbreak, including tornadoes, is underway and will continue through Thursday in parts of the South and Midwest. Some severe weather may continue into Friday along the East Coast and South. This has the potential to be the most widespread severe weather event so far this spring.

Thursday: More widespread severe thunderstorms possible from the southern Plains to the Mississippi Valley and southern Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. Some supercells with tornadoes possible. There is some uncertainty in how unstable the atmosphere will become in the afternoon after morning thunderstorms rumble through the region. This will dictate exactly how much and where we see the most significant severe storms in the afternoon.

Thursday Threat Cities: St. Louis | Chicago | Little Rock, Arkansas…

“This has the potential to be the most widespread severe weather event so far this spring.”

Prepare accordingly. A couple of days ago I rounded up a number of items from around the house I might be using during/after a spring severe weather event:

Severe Weather Gear

I made sure this gear was in good working order, and added/replaced batteries as needed. I plan on storing most of these items within a bin in one location in the home going forward.

You can read the rest of Erdman’s piece on Weather.com here. And if you’re just beginning to prepare for severe weather events, Ready.gov is a good place to start.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 Emergencies, Preparedness, Weather No Comments

Higher Food Prices From California Water Restrictions?

After hearing about the new water restrictions in California, I wondered if Americans wouldn’t be seeing higher food prices (particularly on items from that state) at the grocery store as a result. Marco della Cava reported on the USA Today website yesterday:

California farmers and winemakers are not likely to feel the pinch from Wednesday’s new statewide water restrictions. Gov. Jerry Brown’s mandatory push to cut water use by 25% in the coming year is aimed largely at water-hogging homeowners and businesses.

“Water allocations to farmers have already been set for the year, so these new measures won’t really impact them,” says Doug Parker, director of the California Institute for Water Resources. “But the new rules will require increased reporting on water diversions and water use.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

della Cava noted:

Roughly 80% of California’s water is used by its vast network of farms. More than half of California’s agricultural crop value comes from fruit and tree nut production (around $5 billion annually) and about a quarter from commercial vegetables ($6 billion annually), representing more than 60% of total U.S. fruit and tree nut farm value and 51% of vegetable farm value, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

That’s an awful lot of agriculture that’s getting punished by the ongoing drought. The food garden I’ve started to put together is starting to sound that much better in light of what’s happening.

Adam Nagourney added on The New York Times website Wendesday:

Owners of large farms, who obtain their water from sources outside the local water agencies, will not fall under the 25 percent guideline. State officials noted that many farms had already seen a cutback in their water allocations because of the drought. In addition, the owners of large farms will be required, under the governor’s executive order, to offer detailed reports to state regulators about water use, ideally as a way to highlight incidents of water diversion or waste.

Because of this system, state officials said, they did not expect the executive order to result — at least in the immediate future — in an increase in farm or food prices

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Heesun Wee chimed in over on the CNBC website on March 30:

Sectors that will be hit significantly include agriculture and food processing, said Troy Walters, a senior economist at IHS. Beyond those two categories, the impact will be minimal in the near term. “We’re not going to see any food inflation into 2015 beyond normal as a result of the water situation,” Walters said.

Looking at some California crops specifically, 2015 regional hay prices may not soften as they are expected to in the rest of the country. There’s a good chance there will be less rice acreage overall. And tree nuts including almonds will feel more of the drought’s impact, said Brandon Kliethermes, a senior economist at HIS…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The consensus seems to be no food price spike due to the new water restrictions.

But considering the enormity of California’s agricultural output, should arid conditions keep dragging on…

It might not be a bad idea to plant more fruits and vegetables than I originally envisioned.

Next week’s Home Grown Food Summit couldn’t have come at a better time.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

della Cava, Marco. “Farmers not as impacted by Brown’s new drought measures.” USA Today. 1 Apr. 2015. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/04/01/california-drought-measures-governor-jerry-brought-farmers/70786968/). 2 Apr. 2015.

Nagourney, Adam. “California Imposes First Mandatory Water Restrictions to Deal With Drought.” The New York Times. 1 Apr. 2015. (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/02/us/california-imposes-first-ever-water-restrictions-to-deal-with-drought.html). 2 Apr. 2015.

Wee, Heesun. “Amid drought, some California farmers in near ‘survival mode.’” CNBC.com. 30 Mar. 2015. (http://www.cnbc.com/id/102527195). 2 Apr. 2015.

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Illinois Emergency Management Agency: Develop Post-Disaster Communications Plan With ‘Text First, Talk Second’ Approach

Severe Weather Preparedness Month is almost over here in Illinois. But the Illinois Emergency Management Agency is still passing along valuable information to state residents on what to do when a disaster occurs. From a press release on the Illinois Government News Network website yesterday:

‘Text First, Talk Second’ Often Best Way to Contact Loved Ones When Disaster Strikes

IEMA Encourages People to Have Plan for Communicating with Family Members, Friends during Emergencies

SPRINGFIELD – When disaster strikes, your first instinct probably is to call loved ones to make sure they’re OK or let them know you’re safe. It’s likely everyone else affected by the emergency is thinking the same thing. In these instances, telephone lines can quickly become overloaded, preventing not only your call from going through but also blocking critical 911 calls.

During Severe Weather Preparedness Month in March, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) is encouraging people to develop a Family Communications Plan that includes the “Text First, Talk Second” concept.

“Communicating with family and friends immediately after a disaster is important,” said IEMA Director James K. Joseph. “We’re encouraging people to plan now so they’ll know how to reach their contacts in the chaotic aftermath of a disaster.”

Joseph said short, simple text messages, such as “R U OK?” and “I’m OK,” are more likely to get through to your loved ones than a phone call when phone service is disrupted. As phone congestion eases, you can follow up with a phone call to relay more information.

Data-based services like texts and emails are less likely to experience network congestion during an emergency. You can also use social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to post your status to let family and friends know you’re OK.

While Text-to-911 is on the horizon for emergency communications, it currently is available only in limited areas of the U.S. If you need to contact 911, do so by landline or cell phone unless your community has notified you that this service is activated in your area.

Additional emergency communications tips include:

• Keep all phone calls brief by conveying only vital information to emergency personnel and/or family.
• If you are unsuccessful in completing a call using your cell phone, wait ten seconds before redialing to help reduce network congestion.
• If you lose power, you can charge your cell phone in your car. Be sure your car is in a well-ventilated place, not in a garage.
• Another resource for letting friends and family know your status after a disaster is the American Red Cross’s Safe and Well Registry at https://safeandwell.communityos.org/cms/index.php.
• Your communications plan should identify an out-of-area contact and household members should carry that information with them at all times. If a disaster occurs when you are separated, it often is easier to call outside your immediate area. Family members can call the contact to provide location and coordinate reunification plans.

For more information about developing a family communications plan, visit the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov.

Great advice regarding that “Text First, Talk Second” strategy.

Even I can text on my vintage “dumb phone” with its Shaun of the Dead ringtone.

To find out more about IEMA, you can visit their website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Many Chicago-Area Residents Unprepared For Spring Snow Event

I didn’t publish any new material yesterday on Survival And Prosperity due to the fact my girlfriend and I were painting the front room most of the weekend and I shoveled half-a-foot of snow around my property and that of my neighbors (who are getting on in years) Monday here in the northwest suburbs of Chicago.

I did get the chance to watch some local news yesterday morning before heading out to shovel in the early afternoon.

And all I could do was shake my head.

You see, the various TV broadcasts were pointing out that many Chicago-area residents were unprepared for the wintry weather.

Despite the fact that it’s been known to snow around here as late as May.

Sadly, camera crews showed a number of people woefully under-dressed for the occasion. One woman was waiting for her ride- while wearing sandals. A Barrington resident was clearing snow from his property in shorts and sandals. Downtown, plenty of people were wearing jackets and other clothing much more appropriate for a warm spring day.

One of the reporters told viewers that most of the people she talked to who were not donning winter wear admitted they had already placed their winter clothes in storage.

Yikes!

I get it. The Chicagoland area has had some real nice weather lately- especially compared to last year.

And from time-to-time I’m guilty too of not being appropriately-dressed for the weather/seasons (I no longer use loafers without socks during the winter. Then again, I can’t remember the last time I wore loafers.)

I wouldn’t make such a big deal about the whole thing if I wasn’t concerned it’s symptomatic of something bigger affecting many Chicago-area residents.

Namely, falling into a state of unpreparedness by letting ourselves become too easily detached from reality.

Long-time area residents know darn well that winter-like weather can strike the Midwest from October through May. Yet we experience several nice spring-like days, and all of a sudden we’re rushing to put the winter gear away by mid-March.

I was driving out by St. Charles the other week when I spotted a pickup truck laden with holiday decorations and a snowblower that looked destined for storage. “Damn fool jinxed us,” I declared to my girlfriend.

Should there be any surprise that President Obama’s “Hope and Change” campaign message struck a chord with so many people around these parts?

And yet here I am, with plenty of sand still clinging to the sidewalks/driveway and my Swedish military M90 parka, Norwegian military rain pants, and U.S. “Mickey Mouse” boots lying around the basement bathroom, ready to be put into civilian service.

It’s good to live for today, to embrace euphoria. But it’s no less important to remember history, pick out/understand trends, grasp the “big picture.”

Remain connected to reality.

And prepare accordingly for the not-so-nice stuff.

Your frozen butt would thank you.

I could easily suggest don’t put away winter items until Mother’s Day (May 10 this year).

But that wouldn’t have done much good last year, when snow fell on the Chicago metro area on May 16.

Oh well. All we can do is be prepared for more snow if/when it comes. And give thanks for any warm weather that heads our way.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 Preparedness, Weather No Comments

Quote For The Week

“In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.”

-Mark Twain (American author and humorist. 1835-1910)

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Monday, March 16th, 2015 Quote For The Week, Weather No Comments

Illinois Emergency Management Agency: Prepare For Severe Weather This Spring

A reminder from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency for “local” readers of Survival And Prosperity:

IEMA Urges People to Prepare for Severe Weather

February 27, 2015

Tornadoes, floods and severe storms can happen any time of year

SPRINGFIELD – Believe it or not, warm weather soon will return to Illinois. As exciting as that sounds, warmer temperatures also mean an increased potential for severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and flooding.

To help people prepare for severe weather, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) will join with the National Weather Service (NWS) and local emergency management agencies throughout March to increase awareness of these severe weather hazards.

“We can’t prevent dangerous storms from occurring,” said IEMA Director James K. Joseph. “However, there are ways to prepare to help you stay safe when severe weather strikes. We encourage everyone to learn more about severe weather hazards, identify a safe place to go during storms, and assemble and maintain an emergency supply kit. These actions could help save your life or the life of your loved ones.”

Joseph said Illinois experienced 48 tornadoes in 2014, which resulted in two injuries and nearly $5 million in damage to homes and crops. In 2013, the state saw 54 tornadoes, including 25 twisters on Nov. 17, a vivid reminder that tornadoes and severe storms can happen anytime of the year.

“Although the typical peak time for severe storms in Illinois is April through June, events of the past three years have proven otherwise.” said Chris Miller, Warning Coordination Meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lincoln, Ill. “Nearly half of all tornadoes in Illinois since January 2012 have occurred during the fall and winter months. This underscores just how important it is to be ‘Weather Ready’ all year in Illinois.”

IEMA and the NWS developed a Severe Weather Preparedness Guide, which provides information about tornadoes, severe storms, lightning and flooding along with recommended actions to take before, during and after each of these weather events. It is available on the Ready Illinois website at www.Ready.Illinois.gov or by calling (217) 785-9925. Preparedness tips and information are also available through the Ready Illinois Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/ReadyIllinois) and Twitter Page (twitter.com/ReadyIllinois).

Visit IEMA’s website here for more information on emergency preparedness.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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C.U.M.A. Survival School Offering Civil Unrest/Bug Out/Cold Weather Survival Training In Glenview, Illinois, This February

Here’s the latest survival training being offered by Waysun Johnny Tsai and the Chicago, Illinois-based C.U.M.A. Survival School (first blogged about here in April 2014). From the school’s Facebook page in a January 31 post:

NEXT C.U.M.A. SURVIVAL SCHOOL Civil Unrest/ Bug Out/ Cold weather Survival

This class will cover:

Home Prep
Home Defense
The Bug In
The Bug Out Vehicle
The Bug Out
Basic Wilderness Survival Skills
C.U.M.A. COMBATIVES Street Defense

WHEN: Sunday Feb 22nd, 2015

TIME: 10:00AM CST-4:00PM CST

WHERE: OFF THE X-TRAINING CONCEPTS CENTER
4350 Di Paolo Center, Suite H, Glenview, Illinois 60025
AND FOREST PRESERVE in Des Plaines, Illinois… Entrance to be disclosed after you register.

COST: $150.00 (New Students /$75.00 C.U.M.A. SURVIVAL Alumni)

This is a CLOSED DOOR CLASS.

Students MUST Pre-Register / Pre-Pay to attend this class:

Via PAYPAL: Send payment to sifujohnnytsai@gmail.com

By attending this class you agree to having your picture taken/ be video taped in class and allow us to use such materials for marketing purposes.

To reach me call: 773-227-1888 or email sifujohnnytsai@gmail.com

For more information about C.U.M.A. Survival School, you can visit their website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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East Coast: Last-Minute Snow, Ice Removal Info From Consumer Reports

“The first flakes ahead of a potentially historic blizzard began swirling through New York City on Monday morning, with forecasters predicting up to 3 feet (90cm) of snow in the coming day and millions of people facing snarled transportation.

The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a blizzard warning for New York City and surrounding areas beginning 1 p.m. EST on Monday, and warned of two days of winter storms across the East Coast, from Pennsylvania to Maine.

Airlines have canceled more than 2,000 flights so far…”

-Reuters.com, January 26, 2015

Considering the ongoing warnings of severe winter weather for the East Coast, I thought I’d get the following last-minute information regarding snow and ice removal out to Survival And Prosperity readers in that area of the country. I hope a number of you find it useful. From the Consumer Reports website:

“Find the best snow shovel”
The right model can take some of the work out of winter cleanup

February 14, 2014

“All you need to know about clearing snow”
Get the most from your snow blower by working with the weather

January 21, 2015

“Snow removal shortcuts that save time and energy”
How to get the most out of your snow blower and snow shovel

March 3, 2014

“Best ice melts review: Top products for your driveway, walkways, and steps”
Use Consumer Reports’ five steps for smarter, safer deicing

February 2014

On the topic of ice melts, while I’ve got a bag in my arsenal, lately I’ve been using sand instead so as to minimize damage to the newer concrete driveway and older sidewalks at my house in the Chicago suburbs. QUIKRETE All-Purpose Sand (bought a 50-lb. bag last week for a little under $3 at the nearby Home Depot) is the brand I went with- and it works really good as traction is concerned. Just be sure to keep the stuff away from drains.

Good luck out there in the eastern United States, stay warm, and stay safe.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Monday, January 26th, 2015 Emergencies, Essential Reading, Weather No Comments

NotifyChicago: The City Of Chicago’s Emergency Alert Program

Back when I was living in Chicago I remember reading that the city had a system in place where residents could receive alerts about emergencies going on.

I never signed up for the program, but if I were still living at my old pad on the Northwest side today, I’d give it a try.

Enter NotifyChicago. Via the City of Chicago’s Office of Emergency Management & Communications web page, under “Notification Program Overview”:

NotifyChicago

Notification Program Overview

Welcome to NotifyChicago, the City of Chicago’s tool for providing residents with direct emergency and non-emergency information. NotifyChicago is a city service that supplies residents with text messages and/or e-mail alerts for incidents/conditions such as severe weather emergencies, hazardous materials, traffic impacts, etc. Preparedness and being informed is key in an emergency. The Office of Emergency Management and Communications (OEMC) urges residents to subscribe to receive alerts sent directly to mobile phones or email accounts to stay informed. Signing up for NotifyChicago is FREE. However, depending on your service plan, you may be charged for messages and data on your devices. Contact your mobile service provider for details on costs in your plan.

How Does Notify Chicago Work?

In the event of an emergency, the city’s designated personnel will send text messages and/or e-mail alerts directly to the registered phones or email accounts using this NotifyChicago system. Non-emergency alerts may be issued for traffic disruptions to keep public informed of related major street closures or events impacting traffic. Those registering for texts/emails can choose to receive both emergency and non-emergency notifications or just emergency notices. Once registered, alerts will be sent to the mobile phone/email address designated as situations arise…

NotifyChicago sounds like a terrific tool for a Chicago worker, resident, and visitor to have access to during an emergency. I tried to find out if Cook County and the State of Illinois had similar emergency alert programs, but didn’t see any advertised on their respective web sites (I plan to investigate more).

Interested in finding out more about NotifyChicago? Head on over to the program site here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Chicago School Of Wilderness Skills Offering Winter Survival, Other Classes In February

Earlier this week I blogged about a sword and knife forging class being taught this weekend in Chicago. From poking around the Dabble website, I discovered the instructor of that course- Chris Mayor- is also the founder of the Chicago School of Wilderness Skills. From the organization’s website:

The Chicago School Of Wilderness Skills was founded for two reasons. First, to empower individuals by offering various classes and training intended to increase their level of self sufficiency and provide them with the ability to live well in nature without the safety net of modern society. Our second purpose is to facilitate and promote engagement and awareness of the world around us as well as encourage direct involvement with our ecology as both a form of activism and a solution to the social and environmental crises wrought by the lifestyle choices of our society. Until the perspectives that exclude us from the ecology around us are altered, to the extent that when we look at our habitations they won’t sit outside the boundaries of nature, sustainability will remain an elusive thought.

A Dabble instructor bio for Mayor reveals his bushcraft expertise. From Dabble.co:

A veteran forager and outdoorsman, Chris has spent over a decade developing his knowledge and practice of wilderness skills, wild foods, and primitive arts. And as the founder of the Chicago School Of Wilderness Skills he’s spent several years sharing his knowledge and passion for wild spaces. Other then his educational experience Chris also supplies foraged wild foods to several chicago area restaurants and caterers, and offers consultations.

Being a school, there’s bound to be instruction. And according to their “Calendar Of Events” page, there’s a one-day winter survival class being held on February 7 in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. From the calendar:

winter survival

Saturday, February 7, 2015
11:30am-4:00pm

winter survival class with Vincent Hawkings . class cost 25 $. at loyola beach park. bring appropriate clothes and supplies

Later next month, I see a “wild foods in the kitchen” class and “wild foods: foraging tour” being offered, with both events having Chris Mayor at the helm.

All of this instruction sounds really interesting, highly useful, and potentially very tasty. For more information, head on over to the Chicago School Of Wilderness Skills website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Friday, January 9th, 2015 Food, Preparedness, Training, Weather No Comments

Upcoming REI Survival-Related Classes In The Chicago Area

Chicago-area readers- below is information for survival-related classes being offered by outdoor adventure company REI for the next month or so:

Winter Navigation with Map & Compass, Palos Forest Preserve- Bull Frog Lake (south suburbs), January 10, 9 AM-2 PM, $75 member/$95 non-member, 10 spots left, prior snowshoeing experience recommended
Map and Compass Navigation Basics, Lincoln Park REI (Chicago- Lincoln Park), January 16, 6:30-8:30 PM, $30 member/$50 non-member, 9 spots left
Wilderness Survival: Winter Skills, Palos Forest Preserve- Bull Frog Lake (south suburbs), January 18, 9 AM-2 PM, $65 member/$85 non-member, 12 spots left
Wilderness First Aid with WMI and REI, Ping Tom Memorial Park- Fieldhouse (Chicago- Chinatown), January 17-18, 9 AM-6 PM, $225 member/$255 non-member, 14 spots left
Map and Compass Navigation Basics, Oakbrook REI (west suburbs- Oakbrook Terrace), January 21, 6:30-8:30 PM, $30 member/$50 non-member, 12 spots left
Map and Compass Navigation Basics, Schaumburg REI (northwest suburbs), February 4, 6:30-8:30 PM, $30 member/$50 non-member, 9 spots left

Lifetime membership in REI costs only $20. For more information on joining REI, you can visit their website here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Wednesday, January 7th, 2015 Emergencies, Health, Medicine, Preparedness, Training, Weather No Comments

FEMA Fact Sheet: Extreme Space Weather Could Mean Blackouts For More Than 130 Million Americans

Ever since I first mentioned coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, while blogging about the Doomsday Preppers TV pilot back in August 2011, I’ve witnessed an ongoing debate over the impact of such severe space weather originating from the Sun. Now adding their two cents is the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

On the website abouthomelandsecurity.com, there’s a section entitled “Survive Space Weather.” On that web page is a fact sheet from FEMA for the document entitled Federal Interagency Response Plan- Space Weather 2012. According to the people behind that site, FEMA wouldn’t release the actual plan to them, but they were able to secure that fact sheet earlier this month via the Freedom of Information Act. And from that document:

NOAA in their 2010 Strategic Plan reference a study conducted by two well-known researchers in the field, John Kappenman and William Radasky, who conducted considerable research on the resiliency of the U.S. electric grid. The study cites in NOAA’s Strategic Plan was done under the auspices of the National Research Council and published in their report, “Severe Space Weather Events” 2008.

According to the Kappenman and Radasky studies, they find that a future extreme space weather event, similar to the great Magnetic Storm of May 1921, could result in large scale blackouts affecting more than 130 million in the U.S. An intense geomagnetic storm will place more than 300 large extra-high-voltage transformers at risk of failure or permanent damage, likely requiring a prolonged recovery period with long-term shortages of electric power to the affected areas.

The affected areas in Kappenman/Radasky studies include most of the states east of the Mississippi River as well as most of the states in the Pacific Northwest…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The fact sheet went on to note that others disagree with the conclusions of Kappenman and Radasky regarding the severity of the impact from an extreme space weather event. However, the FEMA Planning Division did state:

There does appear to be general agreement among the experts that extreme geomagnetic storms could have significantly damaging impacts on the U.S. electric grid.

An informative read from FEMA and brought to you by the folks over at abouthomelandsecurity.com here.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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In Print: The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2015

Speaking of farmers today, I was going through my father’s desk in search of a pad of paper while I was at my parents’ place last weekend. Opening a drawer, I spotted a copy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac tucked away in there. I just blogged about the Almanac in August, writing:

Back when I still lived under my parents’ roof, I’d sometimes grab my dad’s latest copy of the Old Farmer’s Almanac to read. Don’t know about the Almanac? From their website:

Since 1792, The Old Farmer’s Almanac has spoken to all walks of life: tide tables for those who live near the ocean; sunrise and planting charts for those who live on the farm; recipes for those who live in the kitchen; and forecasts for those who don’t like the question of weather left up in the air…

Our operation is based in Dublin, New Hampshire. The words of the Almanac’s founder, Robert B. Thomas, guide us still: “Our main endeavour is to be useful, but with a pleasant degree of humor.”

I thought the annual publication looked pretty “useful,” and figured once I grew up I’d buy my own copies.

I’ve grown up. And I recently purchased the 2015 edition of The Old Farmer’s Almanac from Amazon.com.

(Editor’s note: The Old Farmer’s Almanac and the Farmers’ Almanac- in print since 1818- are not one and the same)

The latest Almanac reminds me of those copies I borrowed from my father three decades ago. With a smattering of ads throughout (a number of them are actually pretty interesting), the 304-page softcover book is divided up into the following sections:

• About This Almanac
• Amusement
• Anniversary
• Astrology
• Astronomy
• Calendar
• Food
• Gardening
• Home Remedies
• Husbandry
• Miscellany
• Outdoors
• Romance
• Special Report
• Weather

“Tabs” are provided for Calendar, Weather, and Reference information.

What compelled me to finally purchase a copy of The Old Farmer’s Almanac after all these years was last winter in the Chicago area. I wanted to find out if this next one was going to be as brutal. And since the Almanac claims around an 80 percent accuracy rate with its weather forecasts, I thought they might be able to provide some insight. From the “Weather” section, under “The General Weather Report and Forecast” area:

Winter is expected to be another cold one in the eastern half to two-thirds of the nation…

And from the “Region 6 Forecast (Lower Lakes)” area:

Winter will be colder than normal… Precipitation will be… near-normal in the west…

The Almanac goes on to predict when they think the coldest and snowiest periods will be for the area this winter, but I don’t want to steal their thunder here. That being said, I’m going to try and make the most out of this mild weather we’re having out here in the Chicagoland area, and finalize buttoning-up the house and prepping the property for when winter finally rears its ugly head again.

Besides the weather, the 2015 edition of the Almanac is chock-full of interesting, informative, and easy-to-read articles and other material (it would be even easier-to-read if they offered a large-print edition for people whose vision isn’t as great as it once was). I can see myself referring to the “Best Fishing Days and Times” (hopefully I’ll have the need to look this up!) and the “Reference Compendium” areas on a regular basis. And get a load of this piece in the “Amusement” section:

Solar Strokes

Yet another reason to worry.

In a review of more than 11,000 people who suffered a stroke between 1981 and 2004, researchers in New Zealand found that strokes are 19 percent more likely to occur on days with a geomagnetic storm… The storms had more effect on people under the age of 65…

E-I-E-I-Whoa! Good thing I “grew up” and got myself a copy of this resource.

All in all, The Old Farmer’s Almanac 2015 is a nice addition to the home library, and I plan on acquiring the latest editions as they’re released.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Thursday, December 11th, 2014 Agriculture, Food, Gardening, In Print, Preparedness, Weather No Comments

Largest Sunspot In 24 Years Pointed At Earth

There’s the potential for severe space weather directed at Earth in the coming days. Calla Cofield reported on the Space.com website this morning:

The largest sunspot to appear on Earth’s nearest star in more than two decades is once again pointed at the planet, and it will likely kick-start solar storms, NASA scientists say.

The massive sunspot, previously known as Active Region 12192, was turned toward Earth in October and early November, but rotated out of view. While it was on the Earth-facing side of the sun, the sunspot did not produce any coronal mass ejections — hot bursts of material ejected into space at 4 million mph (6.4 million km/h) — which have the potential to damage satellites and power grids. Now the active region has rotated back around to face Earth again, and although the sunspot has shrunk in size, it will likely be disruptive, NASA scientist Holly Gilbert told Space.com during a video interview about the massive sunspot…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

I watched that video interview with Dr. Gilbert about AR 122090 (formerly AR 12192). From the exchange between Gilbert and Cofield:

COFIELD: So why should we pay attention to sunspots?
GILBERT: Sunspots are the regions where space weather is born. Basically, where solar flares originate and these storms called coronal mass ejections, where tons of billions of material is being blown- sometimes towards the Earth- at over 4 million miles an hour. This can affect satellites, our technology. It can cause power grid outages…
COFIELD: Are you able to predict what are the odds of this sunspot having a major solar ejection or coronal mass ejection?
GILBERT: We’re not at the point at predicting when it will happen, but we have a good idea based on the structure of that magnetic field at the sunspot that it’s very possible that it will create some midlevel flares right now. When it was on the side of the Sun facing us a few weeks ago before it rotated around, it actually led to six massive solar flares and multiple smaller flares. So we know that based on the size and the complexity of the magnetic field that there’s potential for these flares to occur.

The chief of the Solar Physics Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center added:

The coronal mass ejections did not occur along with those large solar flares. This time around, it’s more likely to have some coronal mass ejections associated with it even though the flares themselves might be smaller.

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)


“Massive Sunspot Returns- What’s the Solar Forecast?”
Space.com Video

Back on July 23, the NASA Science News website discussed the potential damage from a coronal mass ejection as strong as the infamous Carrington Event of 1859. From the article:

A similar storm today could have a catastrophic effect. According to a study by the National Academy of Sciences, the total economic impact could exceed $2 trillion or 20 times greater than the costs of a Hurricane Katrina. Multi-ton transformers damaged by such a storm might take years to repair

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

No mention of what that could mean for human life in the affected region of the planet…

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

Cofield, Calla. “Monster Sunspot May Unleash Powerful Solar Flares (Video).” Space.com. 25 Nov. 2014. (http://www.space.com/27834-monster-sunspot-solar-flares-video.html). 25 Nov. 2014.

Phillips, Tony. “Near Miss: The Solar Superstorm of July 2012” NASA Science News. 23 July 2014. (http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2014/23jul_superstorm/). 25 July 2014.

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Chicago-Area Urban Survival/Bug-Out Classes In December

Any Chicago-area readers looking to learn urban survival/bug-out skills in the coming month? Back in the spring I mentioned the C.U.M.A. Survival School in a post about Chicago Reader contributor Connie Vaughn taking such training from the outfit. I blogged:

I’ve come across the C.U.M.A. Survival School website before while researching Chicago-area prepper/survival training, and I’ve made a note to blog about it down the road.

This morning seemed like an appropriate time to talk about the school again as they’re offering survival training in December. From the C.U.M.A. website:

The C.U.M.A. Survival School specializes in no-nonsense training for everyone who is interested in Combatives, Self Defense, Urban Survival or venturing into the great outdoors. It does not matter if you are 45 year old civilian “novice” or a seasoned combat/law enforcement veteran; our goal is to provide quality instruction to anyone who is interested leaning valuable skill sets that can potentially save someone’s life…

The C.U.M.A. Survival School was founded by world re-known martial artist, CQC trainer, Book/DVD author, magazine writer and knife designer “SIJO” Waysun Johnny Tsai…

I e-mailed Waysun Johnny Tsai recently about upcoming survival-related classes they might be offering. From his reply last Thursday:

The Next one day 7 hour C.U.M.A. Urban Survival / BUG OUT classes are on Saturday, Dec 13th, 2014 and Sunday, Dec 20th, 2014.

The hours are 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM on either day.

Subject matter will include:

HOME PREPARATION AND BUGGING IN / SURVIVAL GEAR REVIEW (2 Hour Lecture/Near Schaumburg, ILLINOIS).

THE BUG OUT : Basic Winter Wilderness Survival at the BUSSE WOODS (Near Schaumburg, ILLINOIS / 3 Hours)

C.U.M.A. COMBATIVES: SURVIVING THE FIGHT (2 hours/ NEAR Schaumburg, ILLINOIS)

The cost for one day training is $150 per person …


“CBS CHANNEL 2 News on Urban Disaster Survival & Preparedness With The C.U.M.A. SURVIVAL SCHOOL”
YouTube Video

The class sounds real promising. Expert, hands-on urban survival training is hard to come by around these parts for some strange reason (or maybe not, as faith in the “Nanny State” among local residents remains foolishly strong). Busse Woods is a terrific venue (I used to fish there all the time when I was a kid). And I like that part of the instruction is dedicated to wilderness survival in the winter, which can get incredibly-brutal here in the Midwest.

This “keyboard commando” is certainly interested in enrolling some day.

Interested in the Urban Survival/Bug Out course or C.U.M.A. Survival School in general? You can visit the school’s website here for more information.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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