Category Archives: Battling Nature

Surviving a Windstorm in La Yacata

A windstorm can have winds more than 55 km (34 mi) per hour in short bursts or longer periods of sustained winds and can cause death, destruction, and general mayhem.

In 2015, Mexico was hit by Hurricane Patricia. This storm had sustained winds of 215 mph (345 km/h), breaking the record for the highest ever one-minute maximum sustained winds. When the hurricane made landfall near Cuixmala, Jalisco, the windstorm still registered up to 150 mph (240 km/h) making it the strongest landfall hurricane along the Pacific coast of Mexico.

The village of Chamela was completely flattened in the storm. In the town of Emiliano Zapata, winds tore roofs from homes and businesses, stripped the hillside of vegetation, toppled concrete power poles and crumpled transmission towers. Hundreds of homes were destroyed and 7 deaths occurred as a direct result of the intense winds. The total damage has been estimated to be more than 5.4 billion pesos ($323.3 million U.S. dollars). More than 59,000 acres of crops were damaged or destroyed in Jalisco alone. In Colima, the banana crop loss was estimated at 500 million pesos ($30.2 million U.S. dollars). Because of the extreme intensity of the storm, the name Patricia was retired from the hurricane list by the World Meteorological Organization.

In Mexico, one of the primary causes of injury or death as a result of a windstorm is falling billboards.

Here’s just a partial list:

In Metepc on March 10, 2016

In Fray Servando Teresa de Mier on June 26, 2016

In Mexico City on July 22, 2016

In Puebla on August 29, 2016

In Culiacán, Sinaloa on March 8, 2016

In Mexico City on April 18, 2016

In Mexico City on August 30, 2016

In Periférico Norte on March 12, 2015

On the Mexico-Queretaro Highway on March 10, 2010

In Tlalnepantla on Apr 24, 2013

So I would say that surviving a windstorm in Mexico would require that you stay as far away from a billboard as possible. Fortunately, there are no billboards in La Yacata.

Make sure to secure your tinaco!

Make sure to secure your tinaco too!

Other things that you might want to do as prevention including removing dead trees and overhanging branches, loose roofing materials, tie down outside furniture and garbage cans. In Mexico, it might be securing your tinaco (water storage container) as well or risk it flying off as happened in our neighboring town of Uriangato.

Park your vehicles inside if possible. If not, move them a safe distance away from objects (like billboards) that might fall on them. Stay inside, away from windows, doors, and billboards. Make sure pets and livestock are in a sheltered area, far from billboards.

Following these simple precautions will help you best survive a windstorm in La Yacata.

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Surviving a Volcanic eruption in La Yacata

Mexico is crossed by the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, known also as the Sierra Nevada, which covers its central-southern section. Interestingly enough, this belt defies logic and does not run parallel to the Middle American Trench and many of the volcanoes are located at an angle to the highest peak in Mexico, Pico de Orizaba (18,491 feet), also known as Citlaltépetl which is currently dormant, but not extinct.

There are currently 43 active or dormant volcanoes listed for Mexico, but that’s not to say that one might not spring up in your back yard. That’s exactly what happened just a hop, skip, and jump away from La Yacata near Uruapan, Michoacan in 1943. It grew over a period of nine years, with lengthy periodic eruptions which completely destroyed the town of Parícutin. Three people were killed, not from lava, but after being struck by lightning generated by pyroclastic eruptions (See Surviving a lightning strike).

Other Mexican volcanoes that have erupted in the last 100 years include Volcano Barcena (1953), El Chichón (1982), Nevado de Colima (2016), Popocatépetl (2016), Socorro (1993), and the Tacaná Volcano (1986).

Of course, all of these eruptions may not be natural in origin. There is some speculation that aliens are controlling the timing and intensity of Popocatépetl‘s eruptions. (See Surviving UFO invasion in La Yacata)

So, being in the vicinity of active volcanoes (UFO triggered or not) means learning a bit about volcano safety.

The number one tip is to STAY AWAY FROM ACTIVE VOLCANOES!

It’s quite the thing to hike or climb the impressive peaks in Mexico with Iztaccihuatl being the most popular volcano to hike. However, as some of these are still active, they are technically closed for tourists. So don’t risk it.

More safety advice:

If you happen to be in your house and a volcano erupts near you, evacuate if you are in the direct path of lava, mudflows or flying rocks or debris. Before you leave the house, put on long-sleeved shirts and pants, wear eyeglasses or goggles, and put on an emergency mask or hold a damp cloth to your face.

Ash can damage vehicle engines, so avoid driving. If you must drive, stay below 35 miles per hour.

If you are not evacuating, close windows and doors and block chimneys to prevent ash from entering your home. Wear protective clothing when removing ash from your roof. Bring pets and livestock into closed and sheltered areas.

Stock up on the normal prepper supplies such as food and water. The effects of a volcanic eruption could last years leading to drought (See Surviving Drought), and civil unrest (See Surviving Martial Law). The great civilization that once inhabited Teotihuacan is thought to have been torn asunder after a massive volcano caused global climate change (See Surviving Global Climate Change) leading to an extended drought causing the starving inhabitants to overthrow its government. (See Teotihuacan)

Knowing what could happen and being prepared is half the battle when it comes to volcanic eruptions. The other part is just using old fashion common sense and staying the h*ll away from high-risk zones.  Of course, it’s come to my attention that we live closer to a high-risk zone than I previously thought.  In February 2017, a crater appeared in the small lake town of Cuitzeo, not so very far from La Yacata.  The ensuing dust cloud caused considerable health issues for residents and affected the air quality all the way to Moroleon for several weeks.

And then, of course, there is the suspicious amount of pumice stone found in La Yacata which makes me wonder if we are far enough away from a risk zone.  Well, I guess we’ll just have to take our chances on this one.

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Surviving an Impact from an asteroid in La Yacata

Asteroids hit the Earth all the time. Usually, they are little rocks and hardly anybody notices, however, it’s estimated that over the last 600 million years, the Earth has been struck by at least 60 asteroids with a diameter of 3 miles or more. There are at least 3 craters left from these mega-impacts that are linked to major extinction events on our planet. The most famous mass extinction event was that of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

Seems like ancient history right? Well, there have been other catastrophic asteroid related disasters since then. In 1490, stones fell like rain killing more than 10,000 in the Ch’ing-yang district of China ranging from the size of goose eggs to water chestnuts. Scientists believe this stone shower was a result of an asteroid that exploded within the Earth’s atmosphere.

Then there was the meteor explosion near the Stony Tunguska River in Yeniseysk Governorate in Russia on June 30, 1908. Scientists believe a meteor burst just 6 miles from the Earth’s surface. The result of this explosion was the destruction of 80 million trees over an area of 830 square miles.

Russia was hit yet again on February 15, 2013, around the area of Chelyabinsk Oblast. The resulting explosion had 20-30 times more energy than the atomic bomb that exploded over Hiroshima. The meteor burst more than 18 miles above the surface of the Earth and produced extensive ground damage. Officials reported that 1,491 people were injured, most from shattered glass from windows that exploded. The intense light from the explosion was estimated at 30 times brighter than the sun and caused at least 180 cases of eye pain and 70 cases of flash blindness. About 20 people were injured by ultraviolet sunburn.

Will it happen again? Probably. Scientists are currently monitoring an asteroid called Apophis as it travels across the universe. It’s about the size of 3 football fields. In 2029, it will pass really close to some of Earth’s communication satellites in space, but there is a risk that it will orbit back in 2036 and actually hit the planet. If Apophis enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it could do so with 750 megatons of kinetic energy and a huge section of Earth would be in the “path of risk” including southern Russia, islands in the north Pacific, the coastlines of California, Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, northern Colombia, Venezuela and on through the Atlantic Ocean, stopping just before reaching the coast of Africa. In the projected hypothetical impact simulation, Colombia and Venezuela could have more than 10 million human casualties. If Apophis hits the ocean area, scientist forecast a short-range tsunami with a potential destructive radius of 1000 km at a wave height of more than 2 meters for most of North America, Brazil, and Africa, a radius of 3000 km for Japan and a radius of 4500 for Hawaii. I’m not exactly sure what that means, but it sounds scary.

So supposing an asteroid does hit the Earth, what then? The impact will vaporize (yes, you read that correctly) a large amount of the Earth’s crust, throwing rocks into the air for miles. Most of the rock will rain back on the Earth, heating the atmosphere and triggering massive forest fires. The dust from the impact and forest fires will block the light of the Sun for a year or so. Without sunlight, the climate will enter another Ice Age and vegetation will die. Without vegetation, animals, including humans, will die.

Or at least this is what happened 65 million years ago when the Chicxulub Crater in the Yucatan, Mexico was formed. We all know the result of that asteroid impact now, don’t we?

So what can you do to maximize your survival in the event of an asteroid impact? Nothing. Experts agree. (See also Asteroid hits Earth!, How to survive a collision with an asteroid) Although, European scientists suggest staying away from windows. (See What can we do if an asteroid threatens Earth? Europe Starts Planning)

Might as well enjoy life in La Yacata until it happens.

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Surviving a Hail storm in La Yacata

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La Yacata also gets hail storms, though not nearly as damaging or deadly as the one mentioned in the news reports below. As you can see from this picture, our goats and most of our chickens found shelter in this hail storm in April 2016.

Hail? How can that be apocalyptical? Well, let’s reference one of my favorite movies The Day After Tomorrow when the Japenese businessman is bludgeoned to death by hail when he stops for a quick saki after work. Try telling that guy a hail storm wasn’t the end of the world!

Then there were the Egyptians who refused to let His people go. “And the hail smote throughout all the land of Egypt all that was in the field, both man and beast; and the hail smote every herb of the field, and brake every tree of the field.” Exodus 9:18-26

One of the visions experienced by the Apostle John in the bible book of Revelation also centers around huge hailstones weighing about 75 pounds falling on the unrighteous. (Revelation 16:21)

Sound too fanciful? Well, let’s look at some hailstorms through history.

In the 9th century, several hundred pilgrims were killed in a hailstorm in Roopkund, Uttarakhand, India. In 1360, a hailstorm outside Paris, France, killed hundreds of invading English soldiers. King Edward III gave up his conquest of France after that. On April 30, 1888, 230 people, 1600 sheep and goats were killed in Uttar, Pradesh, Northern India by hailstones the size of oranges. On February 1, 1936, coconut sized hail killed up to 26 people and some cattle in Settlers, Transvaal, South Africa. On April 1986, 92 people were killed by grapefruit sized hail in Gopalganj, Bangladesh. On July 19, 2002, 25 people were killed and hundreds injured in a hailstorm in the Henan Province in the People’s Republic of China.

How about in Mexico?

Golf-ball sized hail destroyed crops in San Martín Texmelucan, Puebla on May 15, 2010. In Tepeji del Rio, Hidalgo 7 feet of hail accumulated on May 13, 2013, killing 7 people. Ping-pong ball sized hail destroyed the avocado crop in Michoacan in the worst hail storm in 40 years on March 25, 2015. On May 26, 2015, a severe hailstorm in Saltillo, Coahuila claimed one life and caused massive damage. On August 18, 2014, and August 30, 2015, massive hailstorms hit Mexico City killing 4 in 2015 when nearly 30 cm of hail accumulated on the streets in about 90 minutes.

So what can be done to prevent a hail storm? Well, in the 18th century, some enterprising Europeans tried to prevent hail by firing cannons into clouds and ringing the church bells. More recently, in the 20th century, Russia and the US attempted to seed clouds (adding chemical particles into clouds from rockets or aircraft) to control hail. There is no scientific evidence that either of these methods works.

Not being able to prevent a hail storm aside, what should you do in the event of hail?

If it begins to hail and you are in a vehicle, pull off the road and STAY INSIDE the vehicle. Of course, odds are high in Mexico that you will be on a bicycle or motorcycle. In that case, drive your vehicle up on the sidewalk and take shelter under an overhanging roof section.

If it begins to hail and you are in a building, STAY INSIDE away from windows. Avoid using electrical devices during a hail storm as well, just to be safe.

If it begins to hail and you are outdoors, COVER YOUR HEAD. Do not get under a tree because the hail might cause branches to fall. On one of our trips to Los Amoles for capulines (See Picking capulines) it began to hail. My enterprising mother-in-law put the bucket meant for the capulines over her head while they double-timed it back to the vehicle. It made and awful racket, with her shrieks and all, but her head was well protected.

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There’s always one!  This dratted rooster decided to ride the storm out without taking adequate shelter.

The proof is in the pudding–you can survive a hailstorm in La Yacata, providing it’s not that one prophesied in Revelation with 75-pound hailstones.  If that one hits, well, best say your prayers.

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