Catherine Hooper's Blog
Hurricane Names
Tuesday, 03 June 2014 10:14

A study was released on Monday that suggested hurricanes with female names are more deadly than their male-named counterparts...because people don’t take them seriously.

Sexism aside, it turns out the study is likely scientifically wrong for statistical reasons.  Also, without the inclusion of Hurricane Sandy (Sandy is a gender-neutral name), the hypothesis is just plain wrong.

2014 Hurricane Season
Friday, 30 May 2014 15:50

With National Hurricane Preparedness Week wrapping up tomorrow and the Atlantic hurricane season beginning on June 1st, it’s that time of year to discuss the 2014 season predictions.

Due to the strong potential for the development of an El Niño weather system, NOAA is actually forecasting a normal or below-normal hurricane season.  El Niño tends to affect trade winds, resulting in less hurricane development.

While these predictions are not always on point (last year was predicted to be way above average, yet was a mild season), this years forecast is giving hope to some areas still rebuilding from Hurricane Sandy.  That said, don’t neglect your hurricane preparedness!

Yelping Foodborne Illness
Wednesday, 28 May 2014 20:48

The NYC Department of Health has been using restaurant review website Yelp to track foodborne illness. Similar to how Google Flu Trends tracks the spread of flu using search terms, investigators were able to track several small outbreaks using restaurant reviews.

They found evidence that people suffering from potential foodborne illnesses are much more likely to turn to social media than report the illness to the DOH (only 3% of the Yelp reviews reporting symptoms had also contacted authorities). Chicago has a similar program that tracks Tweets to identify potential food illnesses.

Godzilla vs. Emergency Preparedness
Thursday, 22 May 2014 16:39

If Godzilla really attacked San Francisco, would we be ready?  It’s constructive - and more importantly, fun - to think about Hollywood disasters in terms of realistic emergency preparedness and response measures (this is why the Pentagon has a zombie apocalypse plan).  Remember, Godzilla was first created in 1954 as a metaphor for the atomic bomb.

HuffPo asked a veteran emergency manager her opinion on the response to a kaiju attack.  Amid some colorful language, she seems to be pretty confident about our chances.

Pentagon’s Zombie Apocalypse Plan
Friday, 16 May 2014 19:48

If you were worried about the zombie apocalypse, worry no more.  The Pentagon has released details about CONPLAN 8888, commonly known as “the six steps our military will take to fight the undead.”

The full text of the plan is hosted on Scribd.

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