Lightning and Thunderstorm Preparation and Safety

Which states are the five most prone to lightning strikes in America?

Lightning is a leading cause of injury and death from weather-related hazards. Although most lightning victims survive, people struck by lightning often report a variety of long-term, debilitating symptoms.

Avg. # of days per year of thunderstorms

The top six most prone states (in this order) are Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina and Oklahoma.

Thunderstorms are dangerous storms that include lightning and can:

IF YOU ARE UNDER A THUNDERSTORM WARNING, FIND SAFE SHELTER RIGHT AWAY

  • When thunder roars, go indoors!
  • Move from outdoors into a building or car.
  • Pay attention to alerts and warnings.
  • Unplug appliances.
  • Do not use landline phones.

HOW TO STAY SAFE WHEN A THUNDERSTORM THREATENS

Prepare NOW

  • Know your area’s risk for thunderstorms. In most places, they can occur year-round and at any hour.
  • Create an emergency plan so that you and your family know what to do, where to go, and what you will need to protect yourselves from the effects of a thunderstorm.
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
  • Identify nearby, sturdy buildings close to where you live, work, study, and play.
  • Cut down or trim trees that may be in danger of falling on your home.
  • Consider buying surge protectors, lightning rods, or a lightning protection system to protect your home, appliances, and electronic devices.

Survive DURING

  • When thunder roars, go indoors. A sturdy building is the safest place to be during a thunderstorm.
  • Pay attention to weather reports and warnings of thunderstorms. Be ready to change plans, if necessary, to be near shelter.
  • When you receive a thunderstorm warning or hear thunder, go inside immediately.
  • If indoors, avoid running water or using landline phones. Electricity can travel through plumbing and phone lines.
  • Protect your property. Unplug appliances and other electric devices. Secure outside furniture.
  • If boating or swimming, get to land and find a sturdy, grounded shelter or vehicle immediately.
  • If necessary, take shelter in a car with a metal top and sides. Do not touch anything metal. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Avoid flooded roadways. Turn Around. Don’t Drown! Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
Golf course green hit by lightning

Be Safe AFTER

  • Listen to authorities and weather forecasts for information on whether it is safe to go outside and instructions regarding potential flash flooding.
  • Watch for fallen power lines and trees. Report them immediately.
  • If you are sick and need medical attention, contact your healthcare provider for further care instructions and shelter in place, if possible. If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Biden, ‘Big Climate’ & DC Collude: Hoaxes For Profits

The D.C. Climate of Corruption

In March 2019 near the South Pole, a Russian ship carrying scientists and tourists traveled to the bottom of the Earth so pro-climate change alarmists could gather more ammunition to document global warming and shrinking ice caps. With hundreds of thousands of dollars pumped into the expedition, the return on investment backfired.  The ship became stuck on ice that was thicker than at any time since records started being kept in 1978.

A year later, also in December, a Russian military vessel, Sparta-III became lodged in ice due to record breaking cold with temperatures of -58F and below reported.

Then, in November 2021, 18 Russian cargo ships were trapped, some for weeks, by another freeze.

It seems like these Big Climate scientists and propagandists would have learned a thing or two about previous attempts. Like the one in December 2013, when the Russian vessel M.V. Akademik Shokalskiy, with 74 people on board for a polar expedition, was stuck in ice near Antarctica for days.

Similar to what the world is currently experiencing with the false narratives of government and Big Pharma related to disease, viruses and vaccines, the Big Climate industry has pulling the same types of scams for decades.

Unfortunately for the John Kerrys and Al Gores of the world, the real truth is that Arctic ice “recededing” wasn’t accurate. In fact, between 2012 and 2013, the ice actually grew by 29 percent into an unbroken patch more than half the size of Europe and within 5 percent of what it was 33 years ago, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Over time, millions of Americans have wised up to Big Pharma and Big Climate. They have especially learned and rightfully concluded that “climate change is a hoax.”

The economic consequences of Biden’s global warming policies can already be seen in electricity and fuel prices, which are currently the highest in U.S. history.  Remarkably, Biden’s global warming policies are increasing electricity prices even while new natural gas discoveries, revolutionary advances in natural gas production technologies, and a dramatic resultant decline in natural gas prices would otherwise spur a dramatic decline in electricity prices.

The Biden Administration habitually recite Big Climate global warming alarmists who argue that changes in the biosphere make it richer, lusher, and more conducive to life are changes to be feared and opposed.

If barren ecosystems and deserts constitute their ideal planet, then the alarmist fears of more plant life make sense. On the contrary, global warming realists understand a climate more conducive to richer, more abundant plant life is beneficial rather than harmful.

We learned and agree that severe storms, floods and agricultural losses do indeed cost a great deal of money, but such extreme weather events – and their resulting costs – are dramatically declining as the Earth modestly warms. 

Documented by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, severe storms are becoming less frequent and severe as the Earth modestly warms.

This is especially evident regarding hurricane and tornado activity, which are both at historic lows. Similarly, scientific measurements and peer-reviewed studies report no increase in flooding events regarding natural-flowing rivers and streams. Any increase in flooding activity is due to human alterations of river and stream flow rather than precipitation changes.

🔹The fact is NASA satellite instruments have documented a great greening of the Earth, with foliage gains most prevalent in previously arid, semi-desert regions.

🔹Although forests and plant life are expanding globally, this is particularly true in the western United States. 

🔹Regarding food and water supplies, global crop production has soared as the Earth gradually warms. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is essential to plant life, and adding more of it to the atmosphere enhances plant growth and crop production. Longer growing seasons and fewer frost events also benefit plant growth and crop production.

🔹Big Pharma and their puppet politicians and universities make a big deal about icebergs breaking off the Antarctic ice sheet. They deliberately ignore the overall growth of the Antarctic ice sheet.

Icebergs break off the Antarctic ice sheet every year, with or without global warming, particularly in the Antarctic summer. However, a particular iceberg – no matter how large – breaking off the Antarctic ice sheet does not necessarily result in “Shrinking Glaciers.” To the contrary, the Antarctic Ice Sheet has been growing at a steady and substantial pace ever since NASA satellites first began measuring the Antarctic ice sheet in 1979. 

🔹Big Climate’s assertion that polar ice sheets are melting is simply false. Although they often point to a modest recent shrinkage in the Arctic ice sheet, that decline has been completely offset by ice sheet expansion in the Antarctic. Cumulatively, polar ice sheets have not declined at all since NASA satellite instruments began precisely measuring them 39 years ago.

🔹Objective data show there has been a gradual increase in global precipitation and soil moisture as our planet warms. Warmer temperatures evaporate more water from the oceans, which in turn stimulates more frequent precipitation over continental land masses. The result of this enhanced precipitation is an improvement in soil moisture at almost all sites in the Global Soil Moisture Data Bank.

🔹The Biden and leftist’s preferred electricity source – wind power – kills nearly 1 million bats every year (not to mention the more than 500,000 birds killed annually) in the United States alone. This huge death toll occurs even though wind power produces just 3% of U.S. electricity.

Popular meme

🔹Lyme Disease is far more common in northern, cooler regions of the United States than in southern, warmer regions. Asserting, without any supporting data or evidence, that a disease that prospers in cool climates will become more prevalent as a result of global warming defies objective data and common sense.

While it might sound cynical, global warming has been used politically in order for governments to gain control over the private sector…As a former government employee, I can attest to the continuing angst civil servants have over remaining relevant to the taxpayers who pay their salaries, so there is a continuing desire to increase the role of government in our daily lives.

In 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was given a legitimate mandate to clean up our air and water. I remember the pollution crises we were experiencing in the 1960s. But as those problems were solved, the EPA found itself in the precarious position of possibly outliving its usefulness.

So, the EPA embarked on a mission of ever-increasing levels of regulation. Any manmade substance that had any evidence of being harmful in large concentrations was a target for regulation.

I was at a Carolina Air Pollution Control Association (CAPCA) meeting years ago where an EPA employee stated to the group that “we must never stop making the environment cleaner” (or something to that effect).

There were gasps from the audience.

You see, there is a legitimate role of the EPA to regulate clearly dangerous or harmful levels of manmade pollutants.

But it is not physically possible to make our environment 100% clean.

As we try to make the environment ever cleaner, the cost goes up dramatically.

As any economist will tell you, money you spend on one thing is not available for other things, like health care. So, the risk of over-regulating pollution is that you end up killing more people than you save, because if there is one thing we know kills millions of people every year, it is poverty.

Global warming has become a reason for government to institute policies, whether they be a carbon tax or whatever, using a regulatory mechanism which the public would never agree to if they knew (1) how much it will cost them in reduced prosperity, and (2) how little effect it will have on the climate system.

So, the policy prescription does indeed become a hoax, because the public is being misled into believing that their actions are going to somehow make the climate “better”.

Even using the IPCC’s (and thus the EPA’s) numbers, there is nothing we can do energy policy-wise that will have any measurable effect on global temperatures.

In this regard, politicians using global warming as a policy tool to solve a perceived problem is indeed a hoax. The energy needs of humanity are so large that Bjorn Lomborg has estimated that in the coming decades it is unlikely that more than about 20% of those needs can be met with renewable energy sources.

Whether you like it or not, we are stuck with fossil fuels as our primary energy source for decades to come. Deal with it. And to the extent that we eventually need more renewables, let the private sector figure it out. Energy companies are in the business of providing energy, and they really do not care where that energy comes from.

Dr. Roy Spencer, former NASA climatologist

And here are words of knowledge from another former NASA scientist:

“The term ‘climate change’ is meaningless. The Earth’s climate has been changing since time immemorial, that is since the Earth was formed 1,000 million years ago. The theory of ‘man-made climate change’ is an unsubstantiated hypothesis [about] our climate [which says it] has been adversely affected by the burning of fossil fuels in the last 100 years, causing the average temperature on the earth’s surface to increase very slightly but with disastrous environmental consequences.

The theory is that the CO2 emitted by burning fossil fuel is the ‘greenhouse gas’ causes ‘global warming’ — in fact, water is a much more powerful greenhouse gas and there is 20 time more of it in our atmosphere (around one per cent of the atmosphere) whereas CO2 is only 0.04 per cent.


There is no reproducible scientific evidence CO2 has significantly increased in the last 100 years. Anecdotal evidence doesn’t mean anything in science, it’s not significant…”

Dr. Leslie Woodcock, former NASA

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Thousands of US Flights Cancelled

Angry passenger in New York gets put in his place.

By 8 a.m. (CST) Monday, April 4, 2022, 2,134 airline flights were cancelled across, into and outbound the United States.

This followed carriers canceling more than 3,500 U.S. flights over the weekend due to employee absenteeism, storms in Florida and technology issues.

Close to 2,000 flights within, into, or out of the U.S. were canceled Saturday and a further 1,659 Sunday, according to flight tracking website FlightAware.

By morning, Monday, 4,314 flights were delayed.

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What are These Giant Mississippi River Barges Doing in the Middle of a Farm?

Last night I received a curious email from Dave W. of South Dakota:

Before all else, I eminently took the bait to find out how a large barge about the length of Noah’s Ark would be stranded on a farm in Olive Branch, Illinois.

As the mighty Mississippi River snakes around Dogtooth Bend at the southern tip of Illinois, certain curved segments of the riverbank take the brunt of the river’s erosive power.

This especially occurs in Alexander County, where farmers and other hard working residents experienced major floods 21 times between 1844 and 2016. The Len Small Levee, named after the 26th governor of Illinois, was built in 1927 and expanded in 1969 to span the bend in the river and “deflect high velocity floodwaters” away from agricultural land.

Sherry Pecord, owner of the nearby Horseshoe Bar and Grill in Olive Branch, wasn’t prepared for the flood of 2019.

It was July, the monstrous river flowed back out of the hole in the levee and caused six giant barges to relocate via another raging flood.

One of the barges settled in the field just off Miller City Road in rural Alexander County, near the southern tip of Illinois.

“They just floated right on over and took out a utility pole and an irrigation rig and landed in the field right behind my house,” Pecord said.

Pecord and her husband, Sean, grow corn and soybeans acreage near the bend. They’ve been through floods before, but the couple never dreamed barges would land in their fields causing them to plow around them for years.

“I don’t even see them anymore,” she said. “They’ve just become part of the landscape, and I really don’t pay any attention to them anymore.”

These two barges remain stranded in a southern Illinois farmer’s field nearly two years after they were sucked through a hole in the Len Small Levee during high-water event on the Mississippi River. (Photo by Shelley Byrne)
These two barges remain stranded in a southern Illinois farmer’s field after they were sucked through a hole in the Len Small Levee during a 2019 massive flood on the Mississippi River.

The Pecord’s experiences with the floods began in 2011, when a massive storm of thunderous water caused an initial break in the levee. Although officials repaired it, that break also led to a government buyout offer for the surrounding land. Several neighbors took the buyouts. Sean, a third-generation farmer, elected to stay put in the home he built back in 1985.

On New Year’s Day of 2016, the Mississippi River overwhelmed the Len Small Levee again.

“It went over the top and just broke it down,” Pecord said. “It put a 3/4-mile gap in the levee right in front of our house. Over the years, the river has just been eating that away, and it’s probably a good mile now.”

In the 2019 flood, the water remained high enough that the Pecords boated to and from home for 137 days. The restaurant remained closed for seven weeks during that time because it was inaccessible to customers.

The barges floated in on July 3 that year. The day after the Fourth of July holiday, the barges’ owner, Hines Furlong Line Inc., sent representatives to take a look.

“They were going to try to move them and get them back across the road and out to the river,” Pecord said. “Well, the river dropped about that time, and they couldn’t get them back across. 

“In the next year and a half, they were trying to figure it out,” she continued. “First they were going to come in and put air bags underneath them and walk them across the road and maybe leave them on the other side and wait for the river to come back up. It’s a given the water is going to come back up because we have a mile-long breach in our levee. I don’t know what happened to that thought process, but that never happened.”

“Planting season comes and goes, and they’re sitting in the middle of my father-in-law’s field,” Pecord said. So he began charging the barge company rent for each day the barges were in his field.

Negotiations began, resulting in a settlement of Hines Furlong selling the barges to Mr. Pecord.

Two red bars mark the barges.

Map of Dogtooth Bend and surrounding area. (Kenneth Olsen, Impacts of 2011 Len Small levee breach on private and public Illinois lands. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, July/August 2013)

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Essential Camping Safety Tips for RVers and Motorcyclists

Camping is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and to ensure your trips are safe, here are tips uniquely for RVers and motorcyclists.

RVers and motorcyclists should plan out all escape routes and discuss them with (RV occupants) and fellow campers when traveling. Ensure everyone is informed of the survival plans.

Basic Camping Safety

🔹Keep watch on children! You are responsible for the safety of your children. Make sure you know where your kids are and what they are doing.

🔹Be aware of the natural surroundings. There may be plants with thorns or stickers.

🔹You are a visitor in wildlife’s home. Keep a safe distance from wild animals. Although they may look cute, they are wild and can carry diseases.

🔹Never feed the wildlife! Feeding wildlife can encourage bad behavior by animals and is against park regulations.

🔹Be careful with fire. Never leave a fire unattended and be sure your campfire is out when you break camp.

🔹Axes, knives and saws are useful tools, but be sure you know how to properly use them.

RV Safety Tips

🔹Have more than one fire extinguisher and insure everyone knows where they are and how to use them. Make sure they have the right amount of pressure according to the gauge. In fact, anytime you use an extinguisher, it should be recharged or replaced to avoid future problems.

🔹Watch where you park. Heat from underneath your RV can catch grass on fire.

🔹Never use any stove or cooking appliance for heating space. Smaller space means less ventilation and the greater the chance of a fire.

🔹Keep any combustible items like paper towels or dish cloths away from the stove and remain near the stove when cooking.

🔹Install and inspect smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors regularly. Test alarms every two-weeks to ensure they work properly. This is a fast and easy test that can save lives and property.

🔹A dragging brake line can cause friction. This can easily be ignited by dripping brake fluid. Make sure to check the pressure in your tires regularly and spot check at every stop.

🔹Always be aware of your surroundings.  Be aware of who is camping next to you, across from you and behind you. Pay attention to what is happening.  Know when the weather is changing and who is moving about around your RV.

🔹Always lock your camper when you leave it.  Even if you are just going to the laundry room or the bathhouse in the campground.

🔹Use window locks so your RV can’t be accessed by the sliding windows.

Motorcycle Safety Tips

🔹Pack safe. Keep the center of gravity of your bike in mind and make sure the heavy items are lower down.  below the COV of your bike. Even up the balance on each side of the bike – don’t put all the heavy stuff in one saddlebag! If traveling solo, pack your gear so it acts as a backrest to support your lower back.

🔹Make sure nothing is touching the exhausts. Use the most effective ratchet straps, bungees or cargo nets to secure the load and carry additional items on top for easy access.

🔹Pack light. Space is limited so be efficient and don’t fill up every available space. Seasoned motorcycle campers overwhelmingly pack light and trim luggage down to the minimum. You can always buy stuff along the way.

 🔹Pack efficiently. Determine what you really need, and pack accordingly. Pack your tent and sleeping bag last so they are first things you unpack at camp site, and make sure the things you’ll need on the ride – sunglasses, sunscreen, waterproofs and maps – are easily accessible.

🔹A tent. If tenting, use one with a waterproof floor or groundsheet and take metal stakes to fix it down and a driver. Pick the size of tent according to your needs – even if you are travelling solo, a two or even three-man tent will give you the space you need to hold your clothes and luggage as well as you, and won’t take up much more space than a one-man tent. Vestibules allow you to strip off wet rain gear and store wet luggage without getting the inside of your tent wet. Make sure you have a waterproof fly- sheet for wet nights. Try setting it up at home rather than working out how to set it up in the dark at your first camp site.

🔹Use a sleeping bag in a grade for  the range of temperatures you are likely to experience. Down insulation is more efficient and packs down smaller than synthetic fillings. Use compression bags to hold your sleeping bag, tent and pad to make the most effective use of space.

Orange County Choppers in New York salutes fire departmens and emergency responders across the nation (Photo: Jack Dennis)

 🔹Before you set off, make sure your bike is serviced and in good condition. A day or two before departure do a trial run of packing and riding your bike – ideally an overnight trip if you can. You’ll almost certainly over pack so it is a great opportunity to check and reassess what you are taking, and to ensure everything is efficiently packed and you know where it is and how to get at it. Of course, if someone with you is travelling by car, put the campsite equipment in there and only carry essentials – it also means you can take more stuff you will find useful, such as camp chairs, extra food or a cool box.

🔹When you are on your trip, don’t leave too late in the day to find a site – when you are tired, it’s easy to make bad decisions and leaving too late will increase your stress levels and make mistakes more likely to happen. When you’ve found the site, choose the best area – sheltered and flat, not sloping or rocky, and not low-lying so you avoid pooling water if it rains, or falling cold air if the temperature drops. Be friendly with other campers, and when you leave make sure you leave no trace you have been there – kill any fire you may have made, and pick up any trash and clear it away.

🔹Finally, when you are back home, make a post-trip evaluation of your packing – what did you not use, what did you not take that you needed – and make a note of it, so next trip you will be operating at maximum efficiency, leaving you free to enjoy the ride.

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10 Clever Facts We Learned at WonderWorks in Branson, Missouri

We passed up going to WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and I instantly regretted it after we left.

Driving away toward the Great Smokies National Park, I suddenly remembered a Facebook post from a friend, Janie Buys, a few years ago mentioning the attraction. It seems she had doubts about visiting it with husband Phil and son Phil Jr., but after she went in, it didn’t take her long to enjoy it.

A couple of weeks later into our month long roadtrip, Dodie and I were pleasantly surprised to see a WonderWorks in Branson, Missouri.

Dodie navigating through a kaleidoscope tunnel.

Dodie, a retired nurse, has always enjoyed science and the attraction bills itself as “a science focused indoor amusement park, combines education and entertainment. With over 100 hands-on exhibits – there is something unique and challenging for all ages.”

The building is enticing enough to spur anyone’s interest. It looks like a giant four story venue turned upside down. As soon as we walked in, the floor was the ceiling and the ceiling was the floor.

The WonderWorks entrance.

It was fun to experience the power of 84mph hurricane–force winds in the Hurricane Shack. Some chose to make huge, life–sized bubbles in the Bubble Lab.

I enjoyed the NASA Space area but we elected not to get strapped into the Astronaut Training Gyro to “experience zero gravity.” We also passed lying on the death–defying Bed of Nails.

Astronaut Jack.

Here’s the Top 10 Things I Learned at WonderWorks:

1. You can’t see your ears without a mirror.

2. You can’t count your hair.

3. You can’t breath through your nose with your tounge out.

4. You just tried No. 3.

6. When you tried No. 3 you realized that it is possible, but you looked like a dog.

7. You are smiling right now, because you were fooled.

8. You skipped No. 5.

9. You just checked to see if there is a No. 5.

10. Share this with your friends so they can have fun too.

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Cold Weather Car Hacks: Herd It Through the Grapevine

Foggy Windshield Fixes

During the winter months, fogged-up and frosty windshields can be a constant issue. To quickly eliminate the fog without creating a mess of smudges, use a chalkboard eraser! It works really well, and it’s easy to store in your glove box or center console.

Another tip for dealing with a foggy windshield is to make sure your car’s air recirculation is turned off. The air in your car is already humid, and humid air contributes to windshield fogging. Use the fresh air intake option instead, which will pull in dry air from outside. The dry air will help take care of the fog in no time!

winter car hacks

Fog-Proof Your Windshield

While the tips I mentioned above will help you get rid of fog on your windshield, there are also ways to prevent fog from forming in the first place! Here are a few you can try:

  • Smear shaving cream on the inside of your windshield, then wipe it off. You’ll leave behind a thin layer of shaving cream, which contains some of the same ingredients as commercial defoggers.
  • Fill a stocking or sock with kitty litter and leave it in your car overnight. The litter will help absorb moisture that would otherwise collect on your windshield.
  • Before you turn your car off in the evening, open the windows for a few seconds to let the cold, dry air in. This dry air will help dehumidify your car overnight.
  • Don’t leave water bottles or other drinks in your car overnight. The moisture from them can contribute to a foggy windshield.
winter car hacks

Keep Socks In Your Glovebox

Having a pair of socks all ready in your car can be especially useful during the winter! You can pull them on over your shoes if you ever need to push your car out of ice or snow. (The socks provide a little extra traction that makes it easier to find your footing.)

Another way to use socks is to cover your wiper blade overnight! Just raise your wiper blades and slip the socks over the ends. The socks will help prevent ice from forming on the blades, which will make your de-icing process much easier in the morning.

winter car hacks

Fix For Frozen Wiper Blades

During the winter, make sure to fill your car with washer fluid that is rated for cold weather. It can help melt the ice that’s clinging to your wiper blades in the morning. It can also be a quick way to defrost your whole windshield if the ice is thin enough!

winter car hacks

Impromptu Ice Scraper

Can’t find your ice scraper and need to get going? Grab a plastic spatula from your kitchen, or use a plastic card from your wallet! (It’s best to use a card that you don’t mind losing, in case it accidentally snaps while you’re scraping the ice.)

Windshield Parking Hack

Let Mother Nature defrost your windshield for you! If you can, park your car facing east. This ensures that your windshield will get a bit of extra warmth from the sun as it rises in the morning. Your wiper blades may be able to take care of the remaining frost—no scraping required!

Thaw Frozen Car Doors & Locks

For frozen locks, try heating your key with a match or lighter. Gently push it into the lock to melt the ice. (Just be careful not to burn yourself!)

Another option for thawing frozen locks is to use a drinking straw. Just aim the straw at the lock, and blow air into it. The heat from your breath will start melting the ice, and you’ll have that door open in no time!

And finally, you can use hand sanitizer to fix frozen doors and locks. Just rub a layer of hand sanitizer over the frozen area and let the alcohol melt the ice.

Prevent Frozen Doors

Sick of having to unstick frozen doors? Prevent them from freezing in the first place with a bit of cooking spray. Just spritz a bit of it where the door seals. This acts as a “waterproofer” to prevent water from seeping in and freezing your door shut.

Keep Side Mirrors From Freezing

Prevent side mirrors from freezing overnight just by covering them up! Use a plastic shopping bag, a ziplock bag, or whatever you can find to slide over the mirrors. Tie the end or keep it in place with a rubber band, and your mirrors will remain ice-free overnight!

winter car hacks

Fast Headlight Fix

Having bright, working headlights is especially important during the dark and snowy winter months. If your headlight covers could use a cleaning, just cover them with a layer of toothpaste. Let it sit for a minute or two, then rinse the toothpaste off with warm water.

This toothpaste treatment will help remove the film on your headlights so they shine more brightly. It’s a quick and easy fix that’s much cheaper than buying a special headlight cleaner product!

Get Un-Stuck Fast

Keep a bag or two of heavy cat litter in your trunk on snowy days. It will help add weight to your car, which can help give your tires a bit more traction in the snow and ice. And you can sprinkle the litter under the tires if you get stuck! This will give your tires something to grip onto and improve your chances of getting out of that snowbank.

Another useful tip for getting your car out of a snowbank is to use your floor mats. Just lay them down in the snow in front of your tires. They’ll provide more traction for your tires and help you get your car moving. (Just don’t forget to pick them back up before you drive away!

Make A Winter Emergency Kit

Weather can be unpredictable during the winter, so it’s a good idea to keep emergency supplies in your car just in case. Start with a spare outfit that can keep you warm if you happen to get stranded. Follow these steps:

  1. Unzip a winter coat
  2. Put a thick pair of socks, long underwear, hat, gloves, scarf, and snow pants inside the coat
  3. Zip the coat up and stash the outfit in your trunk

You should also keep additional supplies in your car that could save your life in a winter weather emergency. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Flashlights
  • Warm blanket
  • Charged battery pack for your phone
  • Hand and foot warmers
  • Bottles of water
  • Energy bars

Now that you have these helpful tips, you’ll be able to face many winter driving challenges with confidence!

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Hurricane Ida 2nd Only to Katrina in Intensity for Louisiana

Hurricane Ida is now the second most intense hurricane to strike the state of Louisiana on record, only behind Hurricane Katrina.

Ida’s strength tied for the strongest landfall in the state by maximum winds with Hurricane Laura in 2020 and the historical 1856 Last Island hurricane.

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards said that the damage is “catastrophic,” and the death toll would go up “considerably.”

“The damage is really catastrophic,” Bel Edwards told NBC on Monday morning. “This storm packed a very powerful punch. It delivered the surge that was forecasted, the wind that was forecasted, and the rain.”

As it approached and made landfall on the Louisiana coast, Ida reached its peak intensity with winds of 150 mph and a minimum central barometric pressure of 929 mbar.

“Well, we have one confirmed death. I don’t want to tell you what I’m hearing, because what I’m hearing points to a lot more than that. They’re not yet confirmed, and I really don’t want to go there,” Bel Edwards said. “I’m certain that as the day goes on, we will have more deaths.”

An Ascension Parish man was killed when a tree fell on his home.

Nearly 600,000 people in New Orleans urban area lost power, and 400,000 more in the wider Louisiana region with a total of more than one million out.

The French Quarter in New Orleans experienced severe damage including destroyed roofs and building collapses. The historic Karnofsky Shop collapsed.

Severe damage was recorded across the coastal areas of Louisiana, including in New Orleans, Golden Meadow, Houma, Galliano, LaPlace, and Grand Isle. 

An emergency flood warning was issued for Braithwaite when one of the levees was overtopped.

In Houma, whiteout conditions were recorded, with flying debris and many houses damaged or destroyed. 

Many homes were destroyed in Galliano, with many trees uprooted, cars overturned and power lines brought down. The Lady of the Sea General Hospital in Galliano was damaged, losing a significant amount of the roof.

One of the ferries used on the Lower Algiers-Chalmette route across the Mississippi River broke free of its mooring during the hurricane, drifted up the river, and then ran aground.

A section of the Gulf Outlet Dam was overtopped by the storm surge. 

The Mississippi River was decided near Belle Chase flowing in reverse due to the volume of the surge. The St. Stephen Catholic School in New Orleans lost its roof.

An anemometer in Port Fourchon recorded a gust of 172 mph when Ida came ashore.

Major damage was reported in Jefferson Parish, where nearly every home reported missing or destroyed roofs. A major power transformer tower in was twisted and destroyed, leading to widespread blackouts. 

Four hospitals in the state were damaged, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

Ida was downgraded to a tropical storm Monday morning.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Urgent Safety Tips if Near the Path of a Hurricane

With Additional Emphasis for RVers and Campers

How much wind would it take to blow you away?

Depending on what you weigh, the strongest sustained winds a large man might be able to withstand without getting blown away is near 70 mph. The maximum gust he could stand without getting blown away is roughly 95 mph.

Severe Weather Events

The following weather events are the most common while camping.  Knowing what to do can make you more educated in case of an emergency.  If you are camping in high-risk areas for hurricanes, earthquakes, tornados, and flooding, be sure to have your alerts/radios activated during your stay.

Lightning

There are no reliable warning signs that lightning is going to strike.  If you are outdoors when a lightning storm occurs, your first thought should be to get to shelter to a building or inside your camper as quickly as possible.

If that is not feasible, the next thing to consider is crouching down close to the ground until the lightning passes. 

Make sure you are not the tallest thing around or close to a lone tree or tall object during a lightning storm. 

Generally it’s a good idea to unplug your power at a campground when a big storm is coming. If lightening hits the ground, even on the other side of the campground, it can cause a surge of power through the line into your RV and cause things to burn out. You are usually safe to run your built in generator.

The 30-30 Rule is an easy way to determine the threat of lightning in your area: 30 Seconds: Count the seconds between seeing lightning and hearing thunder. If this time is less than 30 seconds, lightning is a threat. Seek shelter immediately.

Over 60% of lightning fatalities happen when people biking, boating, hiking, camping or fishing.

Most lightning victims are close to safe shelter but don’t head towards it.

Lightening kills more people each year than Tornadoes and Hurricanes combined.

Tornadoes and High Winds

Tornado Watches are issued by the Storm Prediction Center for counties where tornadoes may occur. The watch area is typically large, covering numerous counties or even states. 

Tornado Warning: Take Action! A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar.

If a Tornado Warning is issued get below ground as quickly as possible.

Get to the nearest storm shelter or basement. If that is not available, try to find a small interior room on the lowest floor the closest sturdy building.

Be sure to leave vehicles as they can go airborne in a strong tornado.

If you are caught in the open during a tornado, lie flat on the ground or try to find a ditch or culvert and roll into a ball to protect your head and torso.

Avoid highway overpasses as a place of shelter, they become wind tunnels during a tornado.

There are several atmospheric warning signs that precipitate a tornado’s arrival:

A dark, often greenish, sky  

Wall clouds or an approaching cloud of debris  

Large hail often in the absence of rain  

Before a tornado strikes, the wind may die down and the air may become very still  

A loud roar similar to a freight train may be heard  

An approaching cloud of debris, even if a funnel is not visible

Despite great strides made in meteorology that help us understand and predict tornadoes, there are still many unknown variables. Advance warning and proper precautions are the only certainties.

Tornadoes can occur at any hour but usually strike during the late afternoon and early evening (3 to 9 p.m. although I had a friend who his lost his life to one at 10:30 a.m.). Most move from southwest to northeast but can move in any direction.

High winds knocked train off bridge in New Mexico, 2019.

They have an average speed of 30 mph, but speeds can vary from nearly stationary to 70 mph.

Normally a tornado will stay on the ground no more than 20 minutes, however, one tornado can touch the ground several times in different areas.

 Wind Advisory means that sustained winds of 30 mph for one hour and/or frequent gusts of at least 45 mph are occurring or expected within the next 36 hours. These winds make it difficult to drive high profile vehicles. 

Winds ranging from 55-63 mph are classed as storm winds, and often result in significant structural damage to RVs, buildings and structures. as well as uproot trees.

Thunderstorm winds of 60-75 mph can overturn unanchored mobile homes (many are unanchored), blow over moving tractor trailers, destroy the average sized shed, and rip some house roofs off. Even worse, these winds are capable of downing trees large enough to easily kill a person.

One study indicated the minimum overturning wind speeds needed to overturn an 18 foot travel trailer was 53 miles per hour (MPH) from a  perpendicular direction to the RV.

For a 29.5 foot motor home: 65 MPH.

For a 29,983 lb. semI-trailer: 73 MPH.

For a 16.4 Class B camper van: 101 MPH.

If you have time and can do it safely when heavy winds are imminent, point your rig in the direction the wind is coming from. This will greatly reduce the impact compared to if you are getting hit broadside.

Put slides and awnings in and stabilizing jacks down. 

Stay hitched up to your vehicle if possible, or hitch-up. Being attached to another large object could lessen impact some.

If motorhome has air bags release the air so that you have less bounce.
If possible and it looks more safe, park next to a wall or hillside to potentially lessen wind impact and even hail damage. (We recently parked to the exterior wall of a trash compactor at a Wendy’s during a sudden hailstorm. Because we were on the side away from the direction the hail was coming down at a strong angle, we had no damages).

It’s vital to move your rig if you are parked under trees. Branches and limbs often go through roofs and windows, causing severe damage or total devastation.

Bottom line: if possible seek quick and more reliable shelter (restrooms, caves, basements, etc.). Variousness in materials, type, weight and conditions will cause different results.

Don’t try to ride out any severe storm in a RV.Even if they may seem sturdy, they do not have a suitable foundation and can be blown over by strong winds or swept away in the event of flooding. Look for the nearest solid structure if a tornado or high winds are present.

Avoid driving in high winds. A motorhome or trailer in motion has far different aerodynamics and dangers than those stationary.

Flash Floods

A flash flood is a flood with a rapid onset, generally less than six hours. 

You may not know a rainstorm 6 miles away happens until the water rushes and fills reservoirs where you are. Be aware if you are camping in a low ground area that is subject to flooding before you camp there.

If you are in a flood zone and get a warning, get to high ground as soon as possible.

Be especially cautious at night when you are driving. Don’t cross flooded roads.  It only takes 18 – 24 inches of water to float an average vehicle. If you are surrounded by water that is not moving, abandon the vehicle and move to higher ground.

If there’s enough time and conditions are safe enough before a storm, drive away from the area.

Otherwise, store the RV in a secure facility as far away as possible from the predicted path of a storm.

If you must park your RV in an open area, make sure it’s on high ground and away from large trees.

Severe Thunderstorms

Know your weather terminology:

Watch: A Watch is when conditions are favorable to become a problem. Be on Alert! Have your weather radios available to receive warnings.

Warning: A Warning is when a weather event is occurring or is expected shortly. If one is issued, it is time to take action.

Severe Thunderstorm: This is a storm that produces one or more of the following: a wind greater than 58 mph, hail resulting in 1 inch or larger, or a tornado.

If one of these is forecasted you will want to seek a way to break camp and move out of the path of the storm or seek indoor shelter.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

The 3 A’s of Camping

Years ago, before the days of cell phones, I was tent camping at Garner State Park in Texas with friends and had no way of knowing danger was ahead.

Lightning, strong winds and heavy rain were our only notice in the middle of the night. Concerned of flash flooding from the Frio River, we bit the bullet, grabbed what we could and drove to higher ground.

Others weren’t so fortunate.  We lost a tent, blankets and lawn chairs. Some lost their lives.

Even today, because of that experience, I stay alert of weather conditions.

The Three A’s of Campground Weather Safety

Awareness

Check the forecast before you travel or set up camp.  Once you are in camping mode or vacation mind, you are planning for fun! But weather can change that quickly so know what the weather is going to be like over the next couple days so you can make good decisions about your activities and destinations.  Use a reliable weather information website like NOAA  or the National Weather Service.

If you are in an area that has cell service, then a weather appwith emergency weather notification is a great thing to have set up.  They have a free and paid version.  The app will send you a notification when there are watches and warnings for the area you are in.  Be sure to have your app set up to notify you even if your other notifications are off and also have your location setting turned on.

Alertness

Have your weather radios set up to alert you when there is a threat.  There are different kinds of weather radio options. We have one we can crank if all the other options (solar, batteries, electrical outlet plugin) fail or are unavailable.

Having a radio that doubles as a walkie-talkie can be a good choice to make the most of small space storage.

Frio River near Garner State Park, Texas.

Have a weather contingency plan.  What will you do if the weather suddenly changes and you are in danger?  Everyone on your trip should have a job to do and know how to do it in case of an emergency evacuation.

In case of an emergency, how will you make contact with help?  What is cell service is lost? Using emergency radios can make the difference in campground weather safety.

Action

Have a plan on what to do if there is threatening weather that may put you in danger.

Know where you are – use a GPS to help identify your location in case you need it.

Know your evacuation plan:  If you need to evacuate where are you going?  Are you going to stick it out?

Use your weather radios to keep abreast of changes in weather in your area.

If advised to evacuate, do so immediately. “It may be too late the second time,” Texas Park & Wildlife Department officials said. “The first time we can get them out by land, the second time it will be by boat if we can get to them at all.”

Don’t attempt to drive through flooded roads, even if the water looks shallow. “If you can’t see the road, don’t try it,” the Texas Park and Wildlife official said. “It’ll be a deadly mistake.”

Watch out for downed power lines and do not go near them, even around residences.

If you get a weather notification for an approaching storm of any kind, start to clean up your campsite and put things away that could potentially become airborne in a wind gust situation.  Your RV windows, motorcycles and your camping neighbors will love you for it.

A few things to remember:

Have flashlights ready in case of power outage and you don’t have RV house batteries.

Have a weather radio and/or weather app set to alert you when there is a weather event

Have activity appropriate apparel and shoes for your outings in case of unexpected weather.  Dress in layers to avoid discomfort in changes of temperatures.

Keep a positive attitude!  You can’t control the weather but you can wait out bad weather by planning to have games and activities to do when bad weather strikes.

If your plans have to change because of weather, be sure to have some alternate activities planned.  A stash of games and cards can turn a disappointment into another kind of fun!

Texas flood.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Flagstaff, Arizona Through Dust Storm to Meteor Crater

Sedona, Arizona, was extremely busy and has grown since my last visit in 2016. Always beautiful, we stopped briefly to live in the moment of this enchanting destination, but elected to move on. That took a while as we endured the traffic jams.

I will seriously think twice about going through again and thought it sad that one of my favorite places ever has become far too popular.

It was melancholic realizing future generations will never experience the magic many of us did.

Commercialized and extensively developed, Sedona is well on her way to a busy future.

Flagstaff, Arizona

We drove on north to the mountain town of Flagstaff, a truly charming place to stop for a while. We spent the night on May 20th. Dodie’s favorite hotel there is Little America, but we didn’t make reservations this time.

We will be back, perhaps this fall, in our camping van to explore the historic downtown area, where various art galleries, enticing boutiques, Native American shops, outdoor outfitters, eateries, and microbreweries dwell amid the 19th-century streets.

Dodie’s son, Jackson, graduated from Northern Arizona University there, so she is familar with university’s museum, the intriguing Lowell Observatory, and the turn-of-the-20th-century Riordan Mansion State Historic Park.

There are three national monuments located within 7.5 to 33 miles of Flagstaff: Walnut Canyon National Monument, Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument, and Wupatki National Monument. We’ll be back.

Meteor Crater

Almost 50,000 years ago a giant fireball streaked across the North American sky from east to west before it struck the Earth with a force 150 times bigger than the atomic bomb.

The last time I visited Meteor Crater was in June 1979. My, it is a far better experience seeing and learning from it as a man in my 60s (vs 20s).

We discovered, through their museum, two quick movies and visitor center, that the impact “generated immensely powerful shock waves in the meteorite, the rock and the surrounding atmosphere. In the air, shock waves swept across the level plain devastating all in their path for a radius of several miles. In the ground, as the meteorite penetrated the rocky plain, pressures rose to over 20 million pounds per square inch, and both iron and rock experienced limited vaporization and extensive melting. Beyond the melted region, an enormous volume of rock underwent complete fragmentation and ejection.”

Dodie sought protection and stability from the high winds within the Meteor Crater complex.

“The result of these violent conditions was the excavation of a giant bowl-shaped cavity. In seconds, a crater 700 feet deep, over 4,000 feet across, and 2.4 miles in circumference was carved into this once-flat rocky plain. During its formation, over 175 million tons of limestone and sandstone were abruptly thrown out to form a continuous blanket of debris surrounding the crater for a distance of over a mile.”

Before we drove east on IH-40 (old Route 66) to visit the Crater, we ate breakfast at IHOP. As I walked out the front door, I heard a loud crack-pop burst. I thought it was lightning.

The winds were so hard it popped the top third of a 40 foot Juniper tree in two. We were parked less than 30 feet from it.

Highway warning signs advised of hard winds and dark dust storms ahead. The five mile drive from the highway to the Crater Visitor Center was surreal as if we were on Mars. I could barely stay on the two lane road with red dirt and heavy gusts fighting me all the way.

When Dodie took Mr. Beefy to the visitor center’s dog kennel, I went to purchase tickets. Again, I heard a loud crash and whirling noise as I was about to enter. I held the door open for a man who was exiting and he yelled, “Oh my God!”

He saw the front windshield blow out of his truck and watched it fly over 400 feet away–luckily, away from the parking area into an empty pasture.

Roland, an employee, told us the reported winds were 45-55 mph with gusts into the 90s. Before we proceeded into the museum, a young couple drove up and the front grill and bumper blew off their car. Roland remained busy filling out incident reports that afternoon.

For us, it was a long day on Route 66.

2021 Weather Forecasts for Hurricanes and Tornadoes

Warm water is a key indicator for tropical cyclone formation in the Atlantic Ocean, and with forecasted temperatures to be continually rising throughout the 2021 summer, it will translate to more fuel for tropical storms and hurricanes that inevitably develop.

“Our biggest concern is the fact that water temperatures across the Atlantic are already warmer than normal over a larger part of the basin,” said AccuWeather Hurricane Expert Dan Kottlowski, who has been forecasting the tropics for 45 years.

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2021 is expected to be an above-normal season for tropical activity in the Atlantic. A normal season is considered to have 14 storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

Last year, 13 hurricanes formed, and six of those reached the major hurricane threshold.

In terms of the number of storms that will directly impact the mainland U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, three to five are expected, according to Kottlowski’s team. The annual average number of direct impacts is 3.5.

Paul Pastelok, who leads AccuWeather’s team of long-range forecasters, thinks overall impacts from tropical systems in 2021 is expected to be a bit lower than the past few years, but it is not zero.

“We do feel there could be a named storm in June, but the way the pattern is setting up in June in the eastern U.S.,” Paul Pastelok, who leads AccuWeather’s team of long-range forecasters, thinks anything that might develop “may be forced away from the coast or head well down to the south towards Mexico or South Texas.”

The other zone where there is an elevated threat for a tropical strike stretches from the Atlantic coast of Florida through the Carolinas.

This does not necessarily mean that the central Gulf Coast (Louisiana had two terrible strikes in 2020) will be completely safe from tropical systems. However, forecasters believe the overall chance of a landfalling tropical storm or hurricane will be lower than it was in 2020.

They are predicting 16 to 20 named storms, 7 to 10 hurricanes and three to five direct hits on the U.S. A typical season features 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three or four U.S. landfalls.

As residents who live along stretches of the Gulf Coast and Atlantic Seaboard will need to prepare for potential impacts from tropical systems, those across the north-central U.S. should brace for an uptick in severe weather events.

The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) reported 253 tornadoes in 2021 as of April 23, below the average of around 400 for late April. However, AccuWeather forecasters believe that a big uptick in tornado activity will occur in May and June.

AccuWeather is predicting between 1,300 and 1,400 twisters by the end of 2021. This is slightly higher than the number of tornadoes in 2020 and right around the average of 1,383, according to SPC data.