Weather and mortality

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:21 PM GMT on February 27, 2009

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Hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornadoes get the attention-grabbing headlines when a natural disaster kills people in the U.S. Yet heat waves, cold winter weather, severe thunderstorm winds, and flooding all killed more people in the U.S. between 1970 and 2004, according to a December 2008 article published by Kevin Borden and Susan Cutter of the University of South Carolina. Tornadoes and lightning were tied for fifth place, and Hurricanes and earthquakes tied for eighth place. However, had this study extended one more year into 2005, the roughly 1800 hurricane deaths from Hurricane Katrina would have vaulted hurricane deaths into third place, behind heat wave deaths and cold weather deaths. The study also showed that people living in rural areas were most likely to die from a natural disaster than those living in cities.


Figure 1. U.S. deaths due to natural hazards between 1970 and 2004 showed that weather associated with extremes of hot and cold weather, along with severe thunderstorm winds (the "Severe Weather" category), killed the most people. Image credit: Spatial patterns of natural hazards mortality in the United States, International Journal of Health Geographics. Authors: Kevin Borden and Susan Cutter of the University of South Carolina.

The authors used Spatial Hazard Event and Loss Database for the United States (SHELDUS)(available at http://www.sheldus.org). This database provides hazard loss information (economic losses and casualties) from 1960-2005 for eighteen different hazard types, and is primarily based on data from the NOAA/National Climatic Data Center publication, "Storm Data". The numbers have high uncertainty, and the authors conclude, "There is considerable debate about which natural hazard is the most "deadly". According to our results, the answer is heat. But this finding could be changed depending on the data source, or how hazards within a data source are grouped."


Figure 2. U.S. deaths due to natural hazards for the 10- and 30-year period ending in 2007, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Image credit: NOAA.

To illustrate, a 2008 study by Thacker et al. called, "Overview of deaths associated with natural events, United States, 1979-2004", concluded that cold deaths were twice as common as heat deaths in the U.S. However, they noted that the 1995 Chicago heat wave, which killed between 600 and 700 people by some estimates, was not properly represented in the data base used in their study. This data base attributed only 50 deaths in the entire state of Illinois to heat in 1995. The authors conclude that their data base "under-reports the actual number of deaths due to severe heat".

Another example: NOAA plots up annual natural hazard deaths from the same source ("Storm Data") as the first study I montioned. Their statistics for the ten-year period ending in 2007 show a much different picture (Figure 2). Heat deaths are a much more dominant source of mortality than cold and winter storm deaths, by a factor 3.5. The take-home message from all this is that heat- and cold-related extreme weather are probably the deadliest weather hazards in the U.S., but we really don't know the proportion of people killed by each. One can easily cherry pick the study of one's choice to show a desired result.

How global warming might affect heat and cold-related deaths
If the globe continues to warm up this century, as predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), heat-related deaths will increase and cold-related deaths will decrease (duh!). Unfortunately, that's about the most intelligent thing one can say about the matter. The 2007 IPCC report (section 8.4.1.3, Heat- and cold-related mortality), does not attempt to estimate the numbers, saying, "Additional research is needed to understand how the balance of heat-related and cold-related mortality could change under different socio-economic scenarios and climate projections."

This high uncertainty in future heat- and cold-related deaths does not stop advocates on either side of the global warming issue from cherry picking results from selected studies to support a particular point of view. For example, opinion columnist George Will stated in a recent Newsweek column: "In Europe, cold kills more than seven times as many as heat does. Worldwide, moderate warming will, on balance, save more lives than it will cost--by a 9-to-1 ratio in China and India. So, if substantially cutting carbon dioxide reverses warming, that will mean a large net loss of life globally." Will bases his arguments on Danish statistician Bjørn Lomborg's controversial 2007 book, "Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming." However, as pointed out by Danish biologist Kåre Fog, who has assembled a large web site dedicated to pointing out the errors in Lomborg's books, the huge number of excess deaths attributed to cold by Will and Lomborg are in large part because the death rate naturally rises in the winter: "Old and seriously sick people have less vitality in the dark season. It is too bold to say that the excess deaths during the dark part of the year are `deaths due to excess cold?. There is no evidence that a warmer climate will alter the seasonal variation. These people would soon die in any case, even if winters became warmer. Indeed, cold and warm climates, like Finland and Greece, have approximately the same seasonal variation in mortality." The IPCC underscores this problem, stating: "projections of cold-related deaths, and the potential for decreasing their numbers due to warmer winters, can be overestimated unless they take into account the effects of influenza and season".

Heat wave deaths are subject to a degree of uncertainty as well. It is somewhat of a subjective call if an elderly person who dies during a heat wave died primarily as a result of the heat, or of a pre-existing heart or respiratory condition. Complicating the diagnosis is the fact that air pollution is at its worst during heat waves, and can also be blamed as the cause of death in some cases. Different studies will use different criteria for classify deaths due to heat, pollution, or pre-existing medical conditions during a heat wave, leading to widely varying estimates of mortality. For example, the European heat wave of 2003 is blamed for 35,000, 52,000, or 70,000 deaths, depending upon the source. You're more likely to hear the higher 70,000 figure quoted by advocates of doing something about global warming, and the 35,000 figure quoted by those opposed.

The three 2008 studies for the U.S. show the ratio of cold deaths to heat deaths ranges from 2:1 to 1:3, which is very different from the 7:1 and 9:1 figures quoted by Will and Lomborg for Europe, India, and China. I don't trust any of these numbers, since heat and cold mortality statistics are highly uncertain and easy to cherry pick to show a desired result. It is rather unproductive to argue about how many people die due to heat and cold in the current climate or in a future climate. Excess heat deaths due to climate change should not get as much attention as the potential for death due to reduction in crop yields due to increased heat and drought, regional collapses of the oceanic food chain from the steady acidification of the oceans, and the wars these conditions might trigger.

For more information
For those interested, Kåre Fog also presents a list of the errors in Al Gore's book and movie, An Inconvenient Truth, and has a Comparison of error counts between Al Gore and Bjørn Lomborg. Lomborg has assembled a Short reply to Skeptical Questions to respond to some of Fog's criticisms, but does not answer Fog's criticism on cold deaths vs. heat deaths. Suffice to say, one should be wary of trusting climate change information from either source, or from opinion columnists, or from politicians. Blogs can also be a questionable source of climate change information, though I think wunderground Climate Change blogger Dr. Ricky Rood is one of the most knowledgeable and unbiased climate change experts in the world. Though imperfect, the best source of climate change information is the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The level of scientific collaboration and peer review that went into that document is one of the most remarkable achievements in the history of science, and the IPCC was fully deserving of the Nobel Prize awarded to it last year. Blogs and books like Lomborg's and Gore's have not gone through peer-review by scientific experts on climate change, and will have far more errors, biases, and distortions of the truth than the IPCC reports.

Jeff Masters

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522. Skyepony (Mod)
Australian authorities closed schools and national parks, and sent out warning text messages to millions of cellphones amid fears that conditions in the south are ripe for wildfires.


Sounds like temps should be a little cooler than Black Saturday but the winds higher.
Member Since: August 10, 2005 Posts: 163 Comments: 37852
anyway i got to go be back later
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ya got power the tower is in centre loc along side elvator room power in that room and its heated as well the tower goes over the room roof by 4 feet as its attach to side of room so on the roof of the room it will be installed at the top to ground level it will be 220 feet
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the tower is old from the old antenas from tv service which has since been removed leaving the old tower which is grounded to the building constuction so it should be ok had an electrican over said it passes code so good to go maybe call him back once its all hooked up
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
station goes up by march 20 cam goes up maybe first day of summer my wife says ya it will get stuck by lighting the next day o well that the chance ya take


Remember, no matter what you do, you will need a power supply of some sort. I put these up ( not this specific one) in many places, and with proper grounding, dont have issues with lightning.
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station goes up by march 20 cam goes up maybe first day of summer my wife says ya it will get stuck by lighting the next day o well that the chance ya take
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dont worry orca nothing strange it will be only a weather web cam with my local skyline its 200 ft up i hope to use it most for lighting storms to record that thats my true intention
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
i plan on keeping it with the station on a 360 degree rotatable flat disk got to be wind proof to at least 200 kmh and waterproof as well iam going to point the cam sw to view cn tower in the core with moveable options at any time

that way orca can see the centre of the universe at any time he wants


ChaChing ! here ya go. No need for the flat disk with this. Link
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
hey i could wire ya in to the building cams 16 of them but iam not allow to do that then you really get to see some strange stuff


I don't even want to consider what the COTU would consider strange.. you big city people are weird to begin with.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
hey i could wire ya in to the building cams 16 of them but iam not allow to do that then you really get to see some strange stuff
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Quoting stillwaiting:



WOW!!!,pretty cool for that price,I'll be getting one before TC season starts,probably in a month or so...surfmom could get live beach conditions,might even hook up A webcam!!!

shhhh!!!! I am suppose to be typing work -- I just slide over here for a brief worklurk peek whiles he's deep in business yak.... OMG Stillwaiting -- take your pick mango's, eggs, limes, kayak -one for fishing, surfboards -- will trade for wave information -- eeekk caught red handed LOL -- I'm off
Member Since: July 18, 2007 Posts: 30 Comments: 26536
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
i plan on keeping it with the station on a 360 degree rotatable flat disk got to be wind proof to at least 200 kmh and waterproof as well iam going to point the cam sw to view cn towerr in the core with moveable options at any time

that way orca can see the centre of the universe at any time he wants



Hmmmmm oh boy :(
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting Ossqss:


Do you really need it on the roof, or can you point it out a window and get the same? The drives are all you need if you have a cam and compatible service.
i plan on keeping it with the station on a 360 degree rotatable flat disk got to be wind proof to at least 200 kmh and waterproof as well iam going to point the cam sw to view cn tower in the core with moveable options at any time

that way orca can see the centre of the universe at any time he wants
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Does anyone know where i could find a good webcam to use like during a hurricane .
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
Quoting Orcasystems:


I guess I should have said a bit more.. wireless/outdoor. I know all about indoor ones.


ChaChing !

I use an IP addressable DVR and high res exterior cameras with a PTZ ( pan, tilt,zoom ) coming soon. It can be linked as necessary to any site and accessed anywhere in the world. I use it for security and observation when out of town and Gator patrol in the back yard. Good luck.
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Quoting Ossqss:
Link

This can give you a flavor. If you look at any distance, you will need to step up to an optical zoom ( digital degrades the picture quality) and a glass lens. Megapixel+ would be preferred for good quality, but check their specs. Some get creative with their chips vs output.


I guess I should have said a bit more.. wireless/outdoor. I know all about indoor ones.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting Orcasystems:


The plan right now is to find a decent yet inexpensive webcam to use as a weather/pond cam
Link

This can give you a flavor. If you look at any distance, you will need to step up to an optical zoom ( digital degrades the picture quality) and a glass lens. Megapixel+ would be preferred for good quality, but check their specs. Some get creative with their chips vs output.
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Quoting stillwaiting:



WOW!!!,pretty cool for that price,I'll be getting one before TC season starts,probably in a month or so...surfmom could get live beach conditions,might even hook up A webcam!!!


The plan right now is to find a decent yet inexpensive webcam to use as a weather/pond cam
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
More detailed story on the boat:

Link
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
maybe a webcam later for me i got to get a laptop with wireless connection so i can link it to my apartment computer from the roof to the first floor to set one up its a lot of cash just to have a cam up there but i have a friend that has a old laptop i need only for the cam software and link to view


Do you really need it on the roof, or can you point it out a window and get the same? The drives are all you need if you have a cam and compatible service.
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Quoting jerseygrl:
My DS measured 8" here in Freehold, NJ, but it was still snowing. I'd say about 9-10" total. Not sure what the "official" amount is. All I know is, it's TOO DAMNED MUCH!!!

Dreaming of spring...
spring will be sprung soon
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post 500.....WOW!!!!!! I would have bet against them finding anyoine alive....
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1 person alive found clinging to a overturned boat 30 miles west of johns pass,st pete florida,confirmed by the coastguard
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
My DS measured 8" here in Freehold, NJ, but it was still snowing. I'd say about 9-10" total. Not sure what the "official" amount is. All I know is, it's TOO DAMNED MUCH!!!

Dreaming of spring...
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
maybe a webcam later for me i got to get a laptop with wireless connection so i can link it to my apartment computer from the roof to the first floor to set one up its a lot of cash just to have a cam up there but i have a friend that has a old laptop i need only for the cam software and link to view


Web cams are cheap if you dont need any fancy features. Just got two -- Free Talk / Skype cert and they work great. 2 for $28 bucks at Wallyworld. Shipped one to the relateds up north and it works find with minimal digital lag. The service is free through Skype for streaming video. Just a heads up, you can pay well over a $100 for one, but what ever you do, get one with a built in microphone. The head set thing limits usage to one person at a time, the combo unit, gets everyone in the picture with audio. good luck.
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Quoting stillwaiting:



WOW!!!,pretty cool for that price,I'll be getting one before TC season starts,probably in a month or so...surfmom could get live beach conditions,might even hook up A webcam!!!
maybe a webcam later for me i got to get a laptop with wireless connection so i can link it to my apartment computer from the roof to the first floor to set one up its a lot of cash just to have a cam up there but i have a friend that has a old laptop i need only for the cam software and link to view
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my local channel 7 has confirmed that same info
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
Boat item link Link
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ok,channel 10 has it
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
thanks for the laptop advise,I'm checking our local Tampa area noon news and there making no mention of the boaters,where did you here it???
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
Quoting Ossqss:
They found the lost boat in the GOM with one person clinging to it, breaking news item.


dam
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
it will be a total of 250 in can funds no free shipping to canada comes ups for about 40 bucks shipping so 250 is not bad i have been looking around and that one by far looks the most durable of any



WOW!!!,pretty cool for that price,I'll be getting one before TC season starts,probably in a month or so...surfmom could get live beach conditions,might even hook up A webcam!!!
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
They found the lost boat in the GOM with one person clinging to it, breaking news item.
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NOLA Portlight Relief Walk
Sat,March 21 Link


Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128344
Quoting stillwaiting:



I'm actually looking to buy a dell mini 9 laptop on ebay,as we speak!!!


Ask about the battery on that unit. Ensure they will back it up. Those batteries can get expensive to replace. They will rebuild some at Batteries Plus if needed or you can do it your self if you have the right soldering equipment. I made several NIMH batteries for the kids RC stuff. What a difference.
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it will be a total of 250 in can funds no free shipping to canada comes ups for about 40 bucks shipping so 250 is not bad i have been looking around and that one by far looks the most durable of any
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Quoting Ossqss:


Thanks, I found some at SAMS for right at $100+ bucks with the goodies and USB connectivity. I like the oregon Scientific version. Gotta check the reviews and see how they have done for others. Then one last sweep through Ebay. FYI also, if you need any high end cables, do the Ebay way. Ebay -- monster HDMI cable $17 bucks to my door vs Best Buy $150 + tax. Same cable.



I'm actually looking to buy a dell mini 9 laptop on ebay,as we speak!!!
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
i have a tower already install on the roof of the 15 story building and iam going to mount it on the tower should have it up and running by 20th of march first day of spring
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
Link heres one that iam getting looks durable and good features


Wow, nice. Looks like an auto dump on the rain guage also. That battery life is impressive. You would think they would be somewhat solar or wind powered. That might be too logical. Thansk Ed
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Quoting Orcasystems:


Link




Oregon Scientific
WMR968 Complete Wireless Weather Station
With Touch Screen
Link heres one that iam getting looks durable and good features
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Quoting IKE:


Maybe an eastern GOM and east coast season.


you better be wrong lol
Member Since: August 12, 2007 Posts: 2 Comments: 2838
Quoting stillwaiting:
ossqss:on the website that orca has linked,there is a bios weather station that looks like the type you'd be looking for,its retail is $99.99 + shipping,hope that helps!!!!


Thanks, I found some at SAMS for right at $100+ bucks with the goodies and USB connectivity. I like the oregon Scientific version. Gotta check the reviews and see how they have done for others. Then one last sweep through Ebay. FYI also, if you need any high end cables, do the Ebay way. Ebay -- monster HDMI cable $17 bucks to my door vs Best Buy $150 + tax. Same cable.
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ossqss:on the website that orca has linked,there is a bios weather station that looks like the type you'd be looking for,its retail is $99.99 + shipping,hope that helps!!!!
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
Parts of Virginia

Nice !
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Its no longer TARP, its TAPS
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So much for my weather station. TampaSpin was right. My 01k is diving.

Index Value: 6,848.84
Trade Time: 11:36am ET
Change: 214.09 (3.03%)

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p451:Its hard to get accurate snowfall w/such windy conditions,I'm sure you know what your talking about,I can remember these type of storms growing up in SECT,should be a good solid blanket of 10" accross the 95 corridor!!!..enjoy the snow P451!!!!!,with any luck maybe I'll get a little something when I'm up in NYC next week!!!
Member Since: October 5, 2007 Posts: 20 Comments: 4970
LOL...naw,it was on the same page.

Excellent question though,thanx
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128344
Quoting Ossqss:



Do the stats include traffic fatalities?
your quicker than my questions.
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Do the stats include traffic fatalities?



I added that below
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 424 Comments: 128344
Quoting Patrap:
Winter Weather Preparedness Link



A major winter storm can be lethal. Preparing for cold weather conditions and responding to them effectively can reduce the dangers caused by winter storms.

Blizzards are severe winter storms that pack a combination of blowing snow and wind resulting in very low visibilities. While heavy snowfalls and severe cold often accompany blizzards, they are not required. Sometimes strong winds pick up snow that has already fallen, creating a blizzard.


From 1986 to 2004, the over a thousand deaths have been attributed to winter weather in the United States.



Do the stats include traffic fatalities?
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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