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Trouble Incorporated

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Cha-Ching! Determining the probability of a natural disaster occurring at a specific place in a certain timeframe is similar to gambling. Certain disasters are more likely to happen in specific places, and some types of disasters are more common than others. Your challenge is to use the probability of different natural disasters occurring to prepare for them as fully and efficiently as possible. You want to deploy enough resources everywhere so that the different locations are prepared enough in case a disaster does strike, but you don’t want to use more resources than you have to. After all, deploying resources is expensive! So, the question is: Are you feeling lucky? Well then, go prepare for some disasters!

Planning and Carrying Out Investigations

Trouble Incorporated Brochure

Trouble Incorporated Brochure

What is a natural disaster

A natural disaster is the effect of a natural hazard. These events, like floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc. are usually catastrophic and have a significant effect on the land and people. The events are due to nature and some cannot be easily predicted, such as earthquakes and tornadoes. Hurricanes can be tracked once they form, but are still as unpredictable as the other natural hazards.

Which types of natural disasters are the most common?

The most common natural disaster is a flood. Floods come from rain, hurricanes or typhoons, and the melting of snowcaps. Floods can take various forms, such as a flood that rises, slowly forming a river, or a flash flood, which can develop within minutes. Flash floods are the number one leading cause of weather-related deaths in the United States. This is because many people underestimate the danger of a flash flood as it can easily sweep away vehicles trying to cross flooded intersections. Another common natural disaster is a windstorm. These windstorms include hurricanes, typhoons, and tornadoes. The lengthy hurricane season that begins on June 1st and ends on November 30th can create a number of tropical storms and hurricanes. There is an average of about six hurricanes for the season. The number of hurricanes, however, cannot compare to the number of tornadoes. The United States has an average of over 1,000 tornadoes per year! The Midwest is even nicknamed Tornado Alley because of the frequent tornadoes in the spring, summer, and fall.

Where are different types of natural disasters most likely to occur?

Moving from west to east, the Western United States experiences a lot of wildfires from California to Texas. The West Coast also experiences a lot of earthquakes because the San Andreas Fault runs through California. With earthquakes, there is also a possibility of tsunamis. In the Midwest, like Oklahoma, Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas, tornadoes are likely to occur. Hail is also highly likely in the Midwest from Minnesota to Wyoming to Illinois to Texas. In the Northern Midwest region from Idaho to Michigan, there is a frequent chance of blizzards during the winter. Flash floods happen in the Southern Midwest region of the U.S. like Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Texas. This is due to the arid soil being unable to absorb the rain fast enough, which leads to floods. Heat waves and thunderstorms range from the Midwest to the East Coast. The most likely natural disaster to affect the East Coast is a hurricane. Hurricanes can hit anywhere along the Atlantic coast as well as the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

How is the probability of a natural disaster striking calculated?

The probability of a natural disaster striking is calculated by looking into the past and seeing how frequently the natural disaster has occurred over the years. If scientists can determine how often the natural disaster occurs, they can find the probability of the natural disaster occurring in the future. They also use computer programs and weather gauges to help them. Computer programs can help simulate and model different scenarios and help predict the storms based on the input provided from the weather gauges. Computers can also map the occurrences of natural disasters of the past to find patterns used for more accurate predictions.

What steps can be taken to prepare for natural disasters?

For some natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes, the best preparation is to safeguard buildings and houses. With fast winds that can pick up debris from hurricanes, if people don't already have hurricane resistant windows, they should protect their windows with plywood or metal shutters. Windows are important because once a window is broken, the wind that blows inside can apply upward pressure on the roof, which can detach the roof as the walls of the house collapse. Because hurricanes are tracked after they are formed, the best preparation is to evacuate if the storm is headed in your direction. It's better to be safe than sorry. For earthquakes, the collapse of buildings is an immediate threat. Buildings can be made earthquake resistant by either making buildings stronger or by making them more flexible (so that they sway and slide instead of crumble). Inside, shelves should be fastened to the walls, and larger objects should be placed on the lower shelves. For other natural disasters like floods and tornadoes, no amount of reinforcement can prevent the house from being flooded or completely destroyed from a tornado. The most important thing in preparation for any natural disaster is to have an emergency kit. The kit should have a lot of food, water, flashlights, radio, batteries, first aid kit, medicine, and personal documents. Having an emergency plan for the family is really important. For example in the case of a tornado, going to the basement or a safe room should be the number one priority. Knowing and researching the natural disaster will aid in the emergency plan.


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