Tropical Storm Karen Threatens Gulf Coast

Tropical Storm Karen is poised to be the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season to reach the U.S. mainland. The storm is currently churning in the Gulf of Mexico and is expected to make landfall this weekend along the Gulf Coast.

The storm will shift into a tropical depression over land and is forecasted to head in a northeasterly direction. Current forecast models indicate that any impact on Pennsylvania would likely begin early Tuesday in the form of rain and thunderstorms. It would be the first tropical storm system to make it to Pennsylvania since Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy last year. That was also a late-season storm, slamming the Atlantic Coast and sweeping over Pennsylvania in late October of 2012.

The National Weather service says Karen will be a near-hurricane tropical storm when it makes landfall this weekend. Sustained winds were reaching 60 miles per hour early Friday. A storm becomes a hurricane at 74 miles per hour.


Perfect Storm II?

Sunday marks 21 years to the day after the formation of the system that became known as “The Perfect Storm.” Also known as the Halloween Nor’easter of 1991, the system was a confluence of a hurricane and a cold front. The ensuing monster storm lashed the east coast for days and was immortalized in the movie that highlighted the story of the Andrea Gail, a commercial fishing vessel lost at sea.

Flash forward to 2012 and similar weather ingredients are cooking in the Atlantic and over land. Forecasters say Hurricane Sandy, currently expected to run parallel to the East Coast, could clash with an early winter system moving in from the west and a blast of arctic air from the north. The result could be several days of winds, heavy rain and possibly snow in parts of the east.

The systems are expected to begin having an impact in the Mid-Atlantic region on Sunday with the worst of the storms coming late Monday or early Tuesday.

PA Remains Out of Isaac’s Projected Path

Tropical Storm Issac is expected to become a Hurricane by tonight, and as it passes by the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Isaac’s projected track shows the storm making landfall on the Gulf Coast and affecting the Midwest. As of Monday morning, Pennsylvania remained well outside the expected cone of probability, but the storm could provide some much needed drought relief in the southern and Midwestern regions of the U.S.

A year ago, another “I” storm, Irene, was wreaking havoc in Pennsylvania. That storm brought high winds and flooding to the Commonwealth as it ambled up the East Coast, knocking out power and prompting coastal evacuations.

Two more tropical disturbances in the Atlantic are currently being monitored by the National Hurricane Center.


Irene Batters, Floods Pennsylvania

Hurricane Irene continues its slow, lumbering journey up the east coast bringing heavy rains and powerful winds to the eastern half of the Commonwealth. Some of the heaviest rainfall has been recorded in south-central Pennsylvania, where totals in York and Lancaster counties have topped a half-foot according to the National Weather Service. The Philadelphia region is reporting similar rainfall totals, but southeast PA is also dealing with the brunt of Irene’s winds. Much of Pennsylvania was prone to severe flooding after earlier August rains contributed to a saturated ground.

Utilities have added extra manpower this weekend to deal with Irene’s wake. As of 4:30am Sunday, PPL was reporting more than 75,000 customers without service, the bulk of them in Lancaster, Berks and Lehigh counties. PECO was reporting mostly sporadic problems in the 5-county Philadelphia region.

The path, size and severity of Irene is nearly unprecedented. It will turn its wrath on New York City for much of Sunday, with Pennsylvania emerging from the worst of the system by midday Sunday.


Survey Shows Social Media Being Used More Often When Disaster Strikes

A new survey shows Americans are relying more on social media and texting when disaster strikes.   “Get Ready,  America!, the National Hurricane Survival Initiative, has released a survey that shows social media and texting are becoming the leading ways people will communicate in a disaster. 

The Sachs/Mason-Dixon commissioned poll found 72% of Americans are members of a social network. 45% of them say they’d rely on it to communicate with friends and family in a disaster and another 24% say they might.

There are some demographic differences. Social media is more prevalent among younger Americans, with 91% of those 18 to 34 connected. 63% of those respondents said they would use those platforms to communicate in a disaster.

For people ages 35 to 59, 75% said they use social media and 44% of them would use it to communicate in a disaster.

Ryan Duffy, managing director of Sachs Digital, says they’re recommending everyone have a mobile phone as part of their disaster kit.  

Duffy says cell phone companies look for areas hardest hit by natural disasters and bring in Cell on Wheels units to provide access if there’s a downed cell phone tower.

Duffy says it really can save a life if you have the right information.  He believes it’s worth everyone’s while to follow local emergency service agencies on Facebook or Twitter and to have a greater sense of awareness when disaster strikes.

ReadyPA is currently on Facebook. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency is still reviewing Twitter.

Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency says Get Ready for Storm Season

Hurricane season planning is not just for people who live on the coast line. The   Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency is reminding state residents they need to have a plan as well.

While the state rarely gets a direct hit from a hurricane, it does see tropical storms and tropical depressions with large amounts of rain, damaging winds and even the possibility of a tornado. These conditions can lead to flooding and power outages.

PEMA Director Glenn Cannon says it’s important to have a plan in place for your family and an emergency kit that could sustain them for at least 72 hours. 

Cannon says that kit should include flashlights and a battery operated radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit and manual, emergency food and water, a manual can opener, essential medications, cash and credit cards, important documents and sturdy shoes.

Cannon says you should also develop a family plan that identifies a place to meet and a way to communicate if you get separated.

Tornado planning should include the identification of a safe shelter. People who have a basement should know the safest place to take cover.  People without a basement should identify an interior room at the lowest level that provides protection. People in mobile homes should know where the nearest sturdy building or storm shelter is located.

Cannon adds many Pennsylvanians vacation at the shore and they should be prepared if they find themselves in the direct path of a hurricane. He says they should monitor weather forecasts, know where the evacuation routes and shelters are located in the town they’re visiting and keep their vehicle fueled and ready.  

You can learn more about hurricane and summer storm preparation at

Hurricane Season is Here, Are You Prepared?

It’s expected to be an above normal Atlantic Hurricane season according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Today (June 1st) marks the start of the season.

Lead seasonal forecaster Dr. Gerry Bell says they’re expecting 12 to 18 named storms, 6 to 10 of them hurricanes, with 3 to 6 storms expected to reach Category 3 or larger. He says the prediction is based on overall wind and air pressure patterns and warmer sea surface temperatures where storms often develop.

Dr. Bell says whether you live along the coast or inland, now is the time to prepare for Hurricane season. He says hurricanes can track well inland, producing flooding, tornadoes and wind damage.  He says people can be impacted well away from the coast.

Dr. Bell says vacationers who frequent the coast during hurricane season, and boaters who dock their craft along the coast, should take extra steps.  Boat owners should check their insurance policies and make sure they have someone who can get their boat to safe harbor if a storm approaches.

You can learn more about preparedness at or