ALERT: Lighting Safety Tips

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CAPE index for Utila starting 8PM is very high. Take caution with lighting. Click above for details.

Dangerous thunderstorms & lighting are likely this evening starting at 8PM. The CAPE index (available potential energy in the atmosphere) is abnormally high. In a scale from 1-5000 it is forecasted at 5407 J/kg.

Safety Tips

No place outside is safe when a thunderstorm is in the area. Get inside as soon as you hear thunder. Run to a substantial building or hard-topped metal vehicle as fast as you can. If you can’t get to a safe building or vehicle:

  • Avoid open areas. Don’t be the tallest object in the area.
  • Stay away from isolated tall trees, towers or utility poles. Lightning tends to strike the taller objects in an area.
  • Stay away from metal conductors such as wires or fences. Metal does not attract lightning, but lightning can travel long distances through it.
  • If you are a group of people, spread out. While this actually increases the chance that someone might get stuck, it tends to prevent multiple casualties and increases the chances that someone could help if a person is struck.

Indoor Safety Tips

Even though your home is a safe shelter during a lightning storm, you may still be at risk. About one-third of lightning-strike injuries occur indoors. Here are some tips to keep safe and reduce your risk of being struck by lightning while indoors.

  • Avoid water
    Do NOT bathe, shower, wash dishes, or have any other contact with water during a thunderstorm because lightning can travel through a building’s plumbing.
  • Avoid electronic equipment
    Do NOT use your computers, laptops, game systems, washers, dryers, stoves, or anything connected to an electrical outlet. Lightning can travel through electrical systems, radio and television reception systems, and any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring. Equip homes with whole-house surge protectors to protect appliances.
  • Avoid corded phones
    Corded phones are NOT safe to use during a thunderstorm. Do NOT use them. However, it is safe to use cordless or cellular phones during a storm.
  • Avoid windows, doors, porches, and concrete
    Do NOT lie on concrete floors during a thunderstorm. Also, avoid leaning on concrete walls. Lightning can travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.

Outdoor Safety Tips

The best defense is to avoid lightning. Here are some outdoor safety tips that can help you avoid being struck:

Do

  • Be aware
    Check the weather forecast before participating in outdoor activities. If the forecast calls for thunderstorms, postpone your trip or activity, or make sure adequate safe shelter is readily available.
  • Go indoors
    Remember the phrase, “When thunder roars, go indoors.” Find a safe, enclosed shelter when you hear thunder. Safe shelters include homes, offices, shopping centers, and hard-top vehicles with the windows rolled up.
  • Crouch close to the ground and separate
    If you are caught in an open area, crouch down in a ball-like position (feet and knees together) with your head tucked and hands over your ears so that you are down low with minimal contact with the ground. Do NOT lie down. Lightning causes electric currents along the top of the ground that can be deadly over 100 feet away. Crouching down is the best combination of being low and touching the ground as little as possible.
  • Separate
    If you are in a group during a thunderstorm, separate from each other. This will reduce the number of injuries if lightning strikes the ground.

Don’t

  • Stay in open vehicles, structures, and spaces
    During a thunderstorm, avoid open vehicles such as convertibles, motorcycles, and golf carts. Be sure to avoid open structures such as porches, gazebos, baseball dugouts, and sports arenas. And stay away from open spaces such as golf courses, parks, playgrounds, ponds, lakes, swimming pools, and beaches.
  • Stay near tall structures
    Do NOT lie on concrete floors during a thunderstorm. Also, avoid leaning on concrete walls. Lightning can travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring

(SOURCE for safety tips: US CDC)

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About Last Night’s Earthquake & Tsunami Threats

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Range of the Septemeber 8, 2017 Earthquake

The September 8th, 2017 magnitude 8.1 earthquake that was felt by some in Utila occured offshore Chiapas, Mexico. It occurred as the result of normal faulting at an intermediate depth. “Focal mechanism solutions for the earthquake indicate slip occurred on either a fault dipping very shallowly towards the southwest, or on steeply dipping fault striking NW-SE.” (US Geolocial Survey)

About Earthquakes & Tsunami Threats Near Utila

The below digram (click to enlarge) shows historical eartquakes near Utila from 1900-2016. Take particilar note along the Cayman Trench that runs north of the Bay Islands in the Gulf of Honduras.

Earthquakes 1900-2016
Earthquakes in our region since 1900

To be better informed, the below video provides some insight into tsunami preparedness:

Along the northern margin of the Caribbean plate, the North America plate moves westwards with respect to the Caribbean plate at a velocity of approximately 20 mm/yr. Motion is accommodated along several major transform faults that extend eastward from Isla de Roatan to Haiti, including the Swan Island Fault and the Oriente Fault. These faults represent the southern and northern boundaries of the Cayman Trench. -US Geological Survey

The US Government provides these tsunami safety tips:

  • Find out if there are evacuation routes and assembly areas identified for your community. Ask your local emergency management office.
  • If assembly areas are not identified, plan to evacuate to a safe place that is on high ground or inland (away from the water) and outside the tsunami hazard or evacuation zone.
  • You may need to identify more than one safe place, depending on where you may be when you get a tsunami warning (e.g., home, work, etc.). You should plan to be able to reach your safe place on foot if you can because of possible road damage.
  • Map out evacuation routes to your safe place(s) from your home, workplace or any other place you visit often that is in a tsunami hazard or evacuation zone.
  • Practice walking your evacuation routes, including at night and in bad weather. Familiarity with the routes will make evacuation quicker and easier if you ever need to evacuate for real.
  • If you have children that go to school in a tsunami hazard or evacuation zone, find out about the school’s plans for evacuating and keeping the children safe. Find out where the assembly area is and where you should pick up your children after the danger has passed.
  • If you are visiting an area at risk for a tsunami, find out about local tsunami safety. Your hotel or campground may be able to provide you with tsunami warning and evacuation information. It is important to know this information before a warning is issued. You may not have a lot of time after a warning. You do not want to waste it figuring out what to do.