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Deaths Attributed to Heat, Cold, and Other Weather Events in the United States, 2006–2010

July 31, 2014 Comments off

Deaths Attributed to Heat, Cold, and Other Weather Events in the United States, 2006–2010 (PDF)
Source: National Center for Health Statistics

Objectives—
This report examines heat-related mortality, cold-related mortality, and other weather-related mortality during 2006–2010 among subgroups of U.S. residents.

Methods—
Weather-related death rates for demographic and area-based subgroups were computed using death certificate information. Adjusted odds ratios for weather-related deaths among subgroups were estimated using logistic regression.

Results and Conclusions—
During 2006–2010, about 2,000 U.S. residents died each year from weather-related causes of death. About 31% of these deaths were attributed to exposure to excessive natural heat, heat stroke, sun stroke, or all; 63% were attributed to exposure to excessive natural cold, hypothermia, or both; and the remaining 6% were attributed to floods, storms, or lightning. Weather-related death rates varied by age, race and ethnicity, sex, and characteristics of decedent’s county of residence (median income, region, and urbanization level). Adjustment for region and urbanization decreased the risk of heat-related mortality among Hispanic persons and increased the risk of cold-related mortality among non-Hispanic black persons, compared with non-Hispanic white persons. Adjustment also increased the risk of heat-related mortality and attenuated the risk of cold-related mortality for counties in the lower three income quartiles.

The differentials in weather-related mortality observed among demographic subgroups during 2006–2010 in the United States were consistent with those observed in previous national studies. This study demonstrated that a better understanding of subpopulations at risk from weather-related mortality can be obtained by considering area-based variables (county median household income, region, and urbanization level) when examining weather-related mortality patterns.

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Climate data from air, land, sea and ice in 2013 reflect trends of a warming planet

July 17, 2014 Comments off

Climate data from air, land, sea and ice in 2013 reflect trends of a warming planet
Source: NOAA

In 2013, the vast majority of worldwide climate indicators—greenhouse gases, sea levels, global temperatures, etc.—continued to reflect trends of a warmer planet, according to the indicators assessed in the State of the Climate in 2013 report, released online today by the American Meteorological Society.

Scientists from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., served as the lead editors of the report, which was compiled by 425 scientists from 57 countries around the world (highlights, visuals, full report). It provides a detailed update on global climate indicators, notable weather events, and other data collected by environmental monitoring stations and instruments on air, land, sea, and ice.

“These findings reinforce what scientists for decades have observed: that our planet is becoming a warmer place,” said NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D. “This report provides the foundational information we need to develop tools and services for communities, business, and nations to prepare for, and build resilience to, the impacts of climate change.”

The report uses dozens of climate indicators to track patterns, changes, and trends of the global climate system, including greenhouse gases; temperatures throughout the atmosphere, ocean, and land; cloud cover; sea level; ocean salinity; sea ice extent; and snow cover. These indicators often reflect many thousands of measurements from multiple independent datasets. The report also details cases of unusual and extreme regional events, such as Super Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated portions of Southeast Asia in November 2013.

Summer Fun: How Much Hotter Will Your City Be?

July 11, 2014 Comments off

Summer Fun: How Much Hotter Will Your City Be?
Source: Climate Central

If it feels hot to you now in the dog days of this summer, imagine a time when summertime Boston starts feeling like Miami and even Montana sizzles.

Thanks to climate change, that day is coming by the end of the century, making it harder to avoid simmering temperatures.

Summers in most of the U.S. are already warmer than they were in the 1970s. And climate models tell us that summers are going to keep getting hotter as greenhouse gas emissions continue. What will this warming feel like? Our new analysis of future summers illustrates just how dramatic warming is going to be by the end of this century if current emissions trends continue unabated.

Summertime Acute Heat Illness in U.S. Emergency Departments from 2006 through 2010: Analysis of a Nationally Representative Sample

July 10, 2014 Comments off

Summertime Acute Heat Illness in U.S. Emergency Departments from 2006 through 2010: Analysis of a Nationally Representative Sample
Source: Environmental Health Perspectives

Background:
Patients with acute heat illness present primarily to emergency departments (EDs), yet little is known regarding these visits.

Objective:
To describe acute heat illness visits to US EDs from 2006-2010 and identify factors associated with hospital admission or death-in-the-ED.

Methods:
We extracted ED case-level data from the Nationwide Emergency Department Sample (NEDS) for 2006-10, defining cases as ED visits from May-September with any heat illness diagnosis (ICD-9-CM 992.0-992.9). We correlated visit rates and temperature anomalies analyzed demographics and ED disposition, identified risk factors for adverse outcomes, and examined ED case fatality rates (CFR).

Results:
There were 326,497 (95% CI: 308,372-344,658) cases, with 287,875 (88.2%) treated-and-released, 38,392 (11.8%) admitted, and 230 (0.07%) died-in-the-ED. Heat illness diagnoses were first-listed in 68%. 74.7% had heat exhaustion, 5.4% heat stroke. Visit rates were highly correlated with annual temperature anomalies (correlation coefficient 0.90, p=0.037). Treat-and-release rates were highest for younger adults (26.2/100,000/year), while hospitalization and death-in-the-ED rates were highest for older adults (6.7 and 0.03/100,000/year respectively); all rates were highest in rural areas. Heat stroke had an ED CFR of 99.4/10,000 (78.7-120.1) visits and was diagnosed in 77.0% of deaths. Adjusted odds of hospital admission or death-in-the-ED were higher among elders, males, urban and low income residents, and those with chronic conditions.

Conclusions:
Heat illness presented to the ED frequently, with highest rates in rural areas. Case definitions should include all diagnoses. Visit rates were correlated with temperature anomalies. Heat stroke had a high ED CFR. Males, elders, and the chronically ill were at greatest risk of admission or death-in-the-ED. Chronic disease burden exponentially increased this risk.

Daily Mean Temperature and Clinical Kidney Stone Presentation in Five U.S. Metropolitan Areas: A Time-Series Analysis

July 10, 2014 Comments off

Daily Mean Temperature and Clinical Kidney Stone Presentation in Five U.S. Metropolitan Areas: A Time-Series Analysis
Source: Environmental Health Perspectives

Background:
High ambient temperatures are a risk factor for nephrolithiasis, but the precise relationship between temperature and kidney stone presentation is unknown.

Objectives:
Our objective was to estimate associations between mean daily temperature and kidney stone presentation according to lag time and temperatures.

Methods:
Using a time series design and distributed lag non-linear models, we estimated the relative risk (RR) of kidney stone presentation associated with mean daily temperatures, including cumulative RR for a 20-day period, and RR for individual daily lags through 20 days. Our analysis used MarketScan data for 60,433 patients who presented for evaluation or treatment of kidney stones from 2005–2011 in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia.

Results:
Associations between mean daily temperature and kidney stone presentation were not monotonic, and there was variation in the exposure-response curve shapes and the strength of associations at different temperatures. However, in most cases RRs increased for temperatures above the reference value of 10°C. The cumulative RR for a daily mean temperature of 30°C versus 10°C was 1.38 in Atlanta (95% CI: 1.07, 1.79), 1.37 in Chicago (95% CI: 1.07, 1.76), 1.36 in Dallas (95% CI: 1.10, 1.69), 1.11 in Los Angeles (95% CI: 0.73, 1.68), and 1.47 in Philadelphia (95% CI: 1.00, 2.17). Kidney stone presentations also were positively associated with temperatures < 2°C in Atlanta, and < 10°C in Chicago and Philadelphia. In 4 cities, the strongest association between kidney stone presentation and a daily mean temperature of 30 versus 10°C was estimated for lags ≤ 3 days.

Conclusions:
In general, kidney stone presentations increased with higher daily mean temperatures, with the strongest associations estimated for lags of only a few days. These findings further support an adverse effect of high temperatures on nephrolithiasis.

National Athletic Trainers’ Association (Nata) Advance Releases Executive Summary of Exertional Heat Illnesses Position Statement and Issues New Research on Heat and Hydration

July 7, 2014 Comments off

National Athletic Trainers’ Association (Nata) Advance Releases Executive Summary of Exertional Heat Illnesses Position Statement and Issues New Research on Heat and Hydration
Source: National Athletic Trainers’ Association

At NATA’s 65th Clinical Symposia & AT Expo in Indianapolis today, leading health care professionals advance released an executive summary of the association’s exertional heat illnesses position statement. This is an update to the original 2002 guidelines and will be published in its entirety in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Athletic Training, NATA’s scientific publication. A copy of the executive summary is available at http://www.nata.org/press-room.

In addition to the guidelines, the NATA Research & Education Foundation unveiled hot topics in heat illness as presented by study authors and as part of the convention’s Free Communications program.

“Exertional heat illnesses are largely preventable within the confines of organized sports when appropriate protocols are put into place,” said Douglas J. Casa, PhD, ATC, FACSM, FNATA, chief operating officer of the Korey Stringer Institute, director of Athletic Training Education, Department of Kinesiology at the University of Connecticut and chair of the position statement writing group.

“This includes heat acclimatization, body cooling, hydration, modifying of exercise based on environmental conditions, among other considerations. These guidelines are not just for athletes – they are also valuable for individuals exposed to warm weather environments such as those in the military or individuals whose work necessitates heat exposure.”

Exertional heat stroke is one of the three leading causes of death in sport (and the leading cause in the summer). The period of 2005 to 2009 had more heat stroke deaths than any other five year period in the 35 years prior. There were 18 deaths from 2005 to 2009; from 2010 to 2014 (still being tracked) there are now an estimated 20 to 22 deaths.

Lightning Deaths in 2014 in United States

June 27, 2014 Comments off

Lightning Deaths in 2014 in United States
Source: National Weather Service

To date in 2014, there have been 7 lightning fatalities: 4 in Florida, 1 each in Michigan, New Mexico and Texas

NOAA predicts near-normal or below-normal 2014 Atlantic hurricane season

May 22, 2014 Comments off

NOAA predicts near-normal or below-normal 2014 Atlantic hurricane season
Source: NOAA

In its 2014 Atlantic hurricane season outlook issued today, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a near-normal or below-normal season.

The main driver of this year’s outlook is the anticipated development of El Niño this summer. El Niño causes stronger wind shear, which reduces the number and intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes. El Niño can also strengthen the trade winds and increase the atmospheric stability across the tropical Atlantic, making it more difficult for cloud systems coming off of Africa to intensify into tropical storms.

The outlook calls for a 50 percent chance of a below-normal season, a 40 percent chance of a near-normal season, and only a 10 percent chance of an above-normal season. For the six-month hurricane season, which begins June 1, NOAA predicts a 70 percent likelihood of 8 to 13 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 3 to 6 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 2 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).

These numbers are near or below the seasonal averages of 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes, based on the average from 1981 to 2010. The Atlantic hurricane region includes the North Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico.

Policy Paper: Heatwave Plan for England

May 20, 2014 Comments off

Policy Paper: Heatwave Plan for England
Source: Public Health England

The Heatwave Plan for England is a plan intended to protect the population from heat-related harm to health.

April 2014 Global Catastrophe Recap

May 9, 2014 Comments off

April 2014 Global Catastrophe Recap (PDF)
Source: Aon

+ Severe weather outbreaks cause billions of dollars of damage in the United States
+ Cyclone Ita makes landfall in Australia’s Queensland; causes nearly USD1.0 billion in agricultural damage
+ Earthquakes cause damage and casualties in Chile, Nicaragua, China and Mexico

NOAA — El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion

May 9, 2014 Comments off

El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) Diagnostic Discussion
Source: NOAA (National Weather Service)

The model predictions of ENSO for this summer and beyond are indicating an increased likelihood of El Niño compared with those from last month. Most of the models indicate that ENSO-neutral (Niño-3.4 index between -0.5oC and 0.5oC) will persist through part of the remainder of the Northern Hemisphere spring 2014 (Fig. 6), most likely transitioning to El Niño during the summer. There remains uncertainty as to exactly when El Niño will develop and an even greater uncertainty as to how strong it may become. This uncertainty is related to the inherently lower forecast skill of the models for forecasts made in the spring. While ENSO-neutral is favored for Northern Hemisphere spring, the chance of El Niño increases during the remainder of the year, exceeding 65% during the summer (click CPC/IRI consensus forecast for the chance of each outcome).

State Taxes Have a Negligible Impact on Americans’ Interstate Moves

May 8, 2014 Comments off

State Taxes Have a Negligible Impact on Americans’ Interstate Moves
Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

Differences in tax levels among states have little to no effect on whether and where people move, contrary to claims by some conservative economists and elected officials. For decades, Americans have been moving away from the Northeast, the industrial Midwest, and the Great Plains to most of the southern and southwestern states, regardless of overall tax levels or the presence of an income tax in any of these states. They’ve moved in large part for employment opportunities in the Sunbelt states and, secondarily, for less expensive housing, and, for many retirees, a warmer, snow-free climate.

Accordingly, policymakers in states like Kansas, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin that have already cut or are considering cutting their income taxes should harbor no illusions that such a move will stem — let alone reverse — their states’ longstanding net out-migration trends. To the contrary; if deep tax cuts result in significant deterioration in education, public safety, parks, roads, and other critical services and infrastructure, these states will render themselves less — not more — desirable places to live and raise a family.

Poverty and Crime: Evidence from Rainfall and Trade Shocks in India

April 21, 2014 Comments off

Poverty and Crime: Evidence from Rainfall and Trade Shocks in India
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

Does poverty lead to crime? We shed light on this question using two independent and exogenous shocks to household income in rural India: the dramatic reduction in import tariffs in the early 1990s and rainfall variations. We find that trade shocks, previously shown to raise relative poverty, also increased the incidence of violent crimes and property crimes. The relationship between trade shocks and crime is similar to the observed relationship between rainfall shocks and crime. Our results thus identify a causal effect of poverty on crime. They also lend credence to a large literature on the effects of weather shocks on crime and conflict, which has usually assumed that the income channel is the most relevant one.

CRS — Green Infrastructure and Issues in Managing Urban Stormwater

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Green Infrastructure and Issues in Managing Urban Stormwater (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

For decades, stormwater, or runoff, was considered largely a problem of excess rainwater or snowmelt impacting communities. Prevailing engineering practices were to move stormwater away from cities as rapidly as possible to avoid potential damages from flooding. More recently, these practices have evolved and come to recognize stormwater as a resource that, managed properly within communities, has multiple benefits.

Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns: Summary of a Workshop (2014)

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns: Summary of a Workshop (2014)
Source: National Research Council

The Arctic has been undergoing significant changes in recent years. Average temperatures are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere in the world. The extent and thickness of sea ice is rapidly declining. Such changes may have an impact on atmospheric conditions outside the region. Several hypotheses for how Arctic warming may be influencing mid-latitude weather patterns have been proposed recently. For example, Arctic warming could lead to a weakened jet stream resulting in more persistent weather patterns in the mid-latitudes. Or Arctic sea ice loss could lead to an increase of snow on high-latitude land, which in turn impacts the jet stream resulting in cold Eurasian and North American winters. These and other potential connections between a warming Arctic and mid-latitude weather are the subject of active research.

Linkages Between Arctic Warming and Mid-Latitude Weather Patterns is the summary of a workshop convened in September 2013 by the National Research Council to review our current understanding and to discuss research needed to better understand proposed linkages. A diverse array of experts examined linkages between a warming Arctic and mid-latitude weather patterns. The workshop included presentations from leading researchers representing a range of views on this topic. The workshop was organized to allow participants to take a global perspective and consider the influence of the Arctic in the context of forcing from other components of the climate system, such as changes in the tropics, ocean circulation, and mid-latitude sea surface temperature. This report discusses our current understanding of the mechanisms that link declines in Arctic sea ice cover, loss of high-latitude snow cover, changes in Arctic-region energy fluxes, atmospheric circulation patterns, and the occurrence of extreme weather events; possible implications of more severe loss of summer Arctic sea ice upon weather patterns at lower latitudes; major gaps in our understanding, and observational and/or modeling efforts that are needed to fill those gaps; and current opportunities and limitations for using Arctic sea ice predictions to assess the risk of temperature/precipitation anomalies and extreme weather events over northern continents.

Update on National Hurricane Center Products and Services for 2014

April 11, 2014 Comments off

Update on NHC Products and Services for 2014 (PDF)
Source: NOAA (National Hurricane Center)

NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) will implement the following changes to its text and graphical products for the 2014 hurricane season…

2013-2014 Winter Heating Costs for Older and Low-Income Households

April 2, 2014 Comments off

2013-2014 Winter Heating Costs for Older and Low-Income Households
Source: AARP Research

Record breaking cold weather this heating season will leave many older American households facing higher heating costs than last year. While heating costs continue to be higher for households heating with fuel oil than those heating with natural gas or electricity, costs to heat with natural gas, electricity, and propane have risen for many households across the United States.

This report analyzes data from the 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Surveys and the February 2014 Short-Term Energy Outlook. It examines heating-related energy consumption and expenditures among consumers age 65 and older based on income, heating fuel used, and geographic location. Winter heating costs are likely to be a greater burden on older low-income households than on similarly aged higher-income households, even though low-income households tend to use less heating fuel than other groups. This report will be updated monthly through March 2014 as new data are released.

CRS — Emergency Water Assistance During Drought: Federal Non-Agricultural Programs

March 31, 2014 Comments off

Emergency Water Assistance During Drought: Federal Non-Agricultural Programs (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Drought conditions often fuel congressional interest in federal assistance. While drought planning and preparedness are largely individual, business, local, and state responsibilities, some federal assistance is available to mitigate drought impacts. While much of the federal assistance is targeted at mitigating impacts on the agricultural economy, other federal programs are authorized to provide non-agricultural water assistance. Interest in these non-agricultural programs often increases as communities, households, and businesses experience shrinking and less reliable water supplies. Authorized federal assistance is spread across a variety of agencies, and each has limitations on what activities and entities are eligible and the funding that is available.

GA Gov. Deal: Report will play a key role in future winter storm response

March 6, 2014 Comments off

Deal: Report will play a key role in future winter storm response
Source: Georgia Office of the Governor

Gov. Nathan Deal today received the internal review and action plan he ordered from state agency heads involved in emergency response during the winter storm of Jan. 26-30.

“Our state experienced two severe winter storms in two weeks, events that tested the resilience and preparedness of all Georgians,” Deal said. “Following the first storm, I implemented immediate action items as well as initiated an internal review by state agency heads. The action items paid off. Our state for the second storm was more informed and prepared through the cellphones alerts, emails to school superintendents and consultations with local meteorologists. The safety of our citizens is of the utmost importance, and this report will play a key role in shaping the way our state government agencies prepare for and prevent dangerous winter weather situations.”

State agency heads from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Defense and the Department of Transportation met to examine the events of the winter storm, which was found to be an extremely unusual circumstance based on data from the National Weather Service.

The report includes short- and long-term solutions, some of which have already been successfully implemented.

2013-2014 Winter Heating Costs for Older and Low-Income Households

March 3, 2014 Comments off

2013-2014 Winter Heating Costs for Older and Low-Income Households
Source: AARP Public Policy Institute

Record breaking cold weather this heating season will leave many older American households facing higher heating costs than last year.  While heating costs continue to be higher for households heating with fuel oil than those heating with natural gas or electricity, costs to heat with natural gas, electricity, and propane have risen for many households across the United States.

This report analyzes data from the 2009 Residential Energy Consumption Surveys and the February 2014 Short-Term Energy Outlook. It examines heating-related energy consumption and expenditures among consumers age 65 and older based on income, heating fuel used, and geographic location. Winter heating costs are likely to be a greater burden on older low-income households than on similarly aged higher-income households, even though low-income households tend to use less heating fuel than other groups. This report will be updated monthly through March 2014 as new data are released.

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