A natural phenomenon is defined as an extraordinary occurrence or circumstance in nature. Some of these phenomena are harmless and their occurrence are more of a spectacle than a threat.
However, many pose to be dangerous to the environment. These are known as “natural disasters”. Natural disasters are not only impactful on the environment but to people as well.
Due to their unpredictable nature, natural disasters can be hard to prepare for. Because of this, it is vital to understand just how dangerous the disaster can be and how they come about. An example of a natural disaster is a blizzard.
A blizzard is characterized by a snowstorm accompanied by strong sustained winds of at least 35 mph, usually lasting for a prolonged period of time. In order for a blizzard to form, three things are needed; cold air, moisture, and warm air rising over cool air. Blizzards are created by processes of precipitation and convection. Snow is required in order for the storm to be classified as a blizzard.
The snow does not necessarily have to fall during the storm as long as formerly fallen snow is present at the time of the blizzard. These types of blizzards are called “ground blizzards”. After precipitation has taken place, convection begins to occur. Warm air rises above a cold air mass and creates differential pressure as it cools and falls back down to earth.
The difference in pressure triggers powerful winds, blowing falling or pre-existing snow, in turn creating a blizzard. These extreme snowstorms prove to be dangerous to the environment. During a blizzard, temperatures quickly drop. Ice and wind can cause trees and other plants to fall and die. The Environmental Protection Agency claims that storms such as blizzards have the potential to damage entire forests. Trees and plants release carbon during decay.
Mass quantities of carbon being emitted to the environment cause greenhouse gases to occur in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases are one of the leading causes of Climate Change. As well as increasing the carbon input, blizzards can affect the biodiversity of an area. Most animals are not adapted to deal with the extreme winds and cold for prolonged periods of time. This causes some of the animals to die because their bodies cannot handle the weather.
Although one blizzard may not due a lot of noticeable damage to the biodiversity, if blizzards become a regular thing the impact could be devastating.Human lives can also be significantly impacted by blizzards. Some of these powerful snowstorms do more damage than what we think.
On March 10, 1988 temperatures in the North-east were around 50 degrees Fahrenheit but on March 11, cold arctic air from Canada collided with Gulf air from the south and created The Great Blizzard of ’88. It had a max snowfall of 58 inches affecting both Eastern US and Canada. The aftermath of the storm was …. and to this date The Blizzard of ’88 is one of the worst recorded blizzards in US history. The storm left up to 15,000 people stranded on trains and took out most train, telegraph, water and gas lines.
The Blizzard of ’88 is responsible for the movement of said lines from aboveground to underground areas. Not only were people stranded, some were killed. Over 400 people lost their lives on that day. Economically, the storm was devastating. Only 30 out of 1000 people made it to work at the New York stock exchange and Wall Street was forced to close for three days. The damages were up to 25 million US dollars which is the equivalent to 670 million US dollars today.
This is just one example of a blizzard that has taken a toll on the lives of people. There are many ways to prepare for a blizzard. If conditions are right for a blizzard to occur, one can take several precautionary steps to ensure their safety. At home it is suggested to prepare these things; a working flashlight, charged cell phone, battery powered radio, extra food, water and medicine, first aid supplies, heating fuel and an emergency heating source. It is important to stay inside during a blizzard and to conserve heat. If caught outside find dry shelter immediately and cover all exposed body parts. The recovery of a blizzard is just as important as the preparation.
Government officials typically use equipment such as snow throwers and plows to clear roads and public facilities of snow. Some buildings need to be recovered due to damages caused by the snowstorm. The length of the recovery process can vary based on how severe the storm was. A blizzard is just one of the many natural disasters that occur in the world. Blizzards impact the environment and also have an effect on humans. Although it is just a snowstorm, their impact can be dangerous and in some cases, fatal. While they are dangerous, there are ways to prepare and recover in the event of a blizzard.
Natural disasters are dubbed a disaster for a reason. Blizzards live up to the disaster reputation and prove to be one of the most dangerous phenomena that occur in the natural world.