Coastal Reconstruction In The Aftermath Of Storms
Residents Of High-risk Areas Return, Again And Again
Tornadoes To Terrorism, And Everything In Between
The Crosshairs Of Disaster
The Most Unpredictable And Dangerous Disasters
Disasters Can Happen Anywhere
The Disaster Won't Slow Migration Into Fire-prone Areas
The Hardest Work Of All
Karst Areas Are Characterized By Special Features Not Present Elsewhere
Landslide Describes A Wide Variety Of Processes
Fast-moving Flows Of Mud And Rock
  A Little Help Finding Your Way Around
Contact Us
Parting Shots | Google Search
  Oneliners, Stories, etc.
Who We Are


Live In A Disaster-prone Area?

I don't really feel bad for people who lose their home or possessions after voluntarily choosing to live in a disaster-prone area? Wildfires in parts of western states that are seeminglly not meant for human habitation, the annual hurricane assault on Florida, etc. I can understand the beauty of some of these areas, but why should others have to risk their lives to save the possessions of those who value aesthetics over safety?

Whether caused by acts of nature, human error or even malevolence, disasters are an increasingly costly threat. Although most people assume they will not become victims, individual risk grows as homes and businesses encroach deeper into disaster-prone regions. That risk can be personal or structural – or both.

Research gives us hope. Early-warning systems developed over the past several decades have prevented countless deaths and injuries. Structural impact is another matter. Despite improved building codes and practices, more people are building in risky locations. The rate of property destruction and rebuilding is increasing, and costs are rising. Hurricane Katrina proved yet again just how much destruction disasters can cause.

Regardless of origin—from hurricanes to earthquakes, blackouts to terrorist attacks—disasters can seem overwhelming. Yet their impact need not be crippling. Without a comprehensive understanding of disasters, it is impossible to prepare for them. Knowledge is critical, whether for determining how weather systems develop, estimating the path of volcanic debris, recognizing triggers before a ground-shaking seismic event, or even gauging how an individual’s decisions—from a utility employee to a public official—can put entire communities at risk.

With the right information, researchers, communities and planners can work together to craft an effective response for almost any conceivable crisis and learn how to confront them more effectively in the future. Hurricanes, tornadoes, torrential rains and other severe weather drive many of the most devastating natural disasters. University researchers have spent the past several decades studying the most fundamental properties of weather, including observations of enormous thunderstorm complexes through the BAMEX project and the search for tornado origins in the VORTEX project.

These ladies make it look easy

It's hard to look this good when there's a boat sinking, a volcano spewing or a world ending.
Kate Winslet in Titanic
Yeah, that giant iceberg was a bummer, but at least it gave us the opportunity to see Kate Winslet naked and then wet for a solid two hours or so. Hell, we're surprised she was the one doing all the whistling at the end of the flick! Bonus points for making Billy Zane look like a complete tool, even though it's not all that hard to do.
Liv Tyler in Armageddon
The first hot daughter on our list, Liv Tyler (fictional offspring of astronaut Bruce Willis in this "The meteors are coming!" flick) remains earthbound for all of Armageddon, but good call on the screenwriter's part by keeping her as far away from the giant space rock as possible. We're even willing to overlook the fact that her character's in a relationship with Ben Affleck. She sheds a lotta tears in this one; we gladly would've offered a non-Affleck shoulder to cry on.
Jacinda Barrett in Poseidon
It's a funny world when eternal badass Kurt Russell dies on the giant boat but a former Real World cast member is one of the few survivors. But we gotta hand it to the old man for reversing the Poseidon ocean liner's propellers and sacrificing himself in order to keep hotties like Jacinda in the world.
Kim Kardashian in Disaster Movie
We're not even gonna pretend like we've seen this collection of poorly conceived pop-culture sight gags passing itself off as a "film," but having recently learned that Kim Kardashian plays a hot girlfriend, it may wind up on the Netflix queue. Maybe Kim's ready for the next phase of career trajectory. Erotic thrillers, perhaps? A man can dream.
Amanda Peet in 2012
As John Cusack's ex-wife, Amanda Peet spends most of 2012 looking concerned for her children ... and looking pretty smokin' to us. We don't blame her for having ditched Cusack's character; a science-fiction writer and, uh, a limousine driver? Double-loser whammy. But he did successfully survive the world ending, so maybe he's not so bad. Wait ... spoiler alert?
Fergie in Poseidon
Unless you're a guest on The Love Boat, singing while out at sea is a bad idea. For proof, see Stacy "Fergie" Ferguson's role as Gloria in Poseidon. She gets to belt out a couple of tunes, but ultimately, she's done in by broken windows. Can you blame the ocean for wanting to get a little closer, though?
Thandie Newton in 2012
It must be pretty cool to call the president your dad, but it's totally awesome to call President Danny Glover your pops. Thandie Newton may be a bit stoic as First Daughter Laura Wilson, but when she's out there trying to save as many human lives as possible, she melts our hearts. And how about that bit of French-speaking at the beginning of the flick? Sacrebleu! We have some stiff bread with her name on it.
Zooey Deschanel in The Happening
"Mrs. Mark Wahlberg" is quite a hurdle for any actress, but we're extremely forgiving of Zooey's character in this universally crapped-on thriller. After all, she's Wahlberg's estranged wife, and even though her character basically sleepwalks listlessly through all 90 minutes, she does so while looking extremely gorgeous.
Diane Lane in The Perfect Storm
Diane takes a thankless "I've got a bad feeling about this" role and creates a character that you actually wanna slap Mark Wahlberg (this guy again?!) for leaving behind. C'mon, Wahlberg! You almost get done in by a rubbery shark, then you do get done in by a wave, all while Diane's decorating a pretty sweet pad for you back home. He chose ... poorly.
Rose Byrne in Knowing
Caught between Nic Cage, a piece of old paper, and lots of things blowing up, Rose has a "knowing" look on her face throughout this flick; as in, "I know what the guys out there are looking at, and it ain't Nic's weird plugs." She really does know!
Tea Leoni in Deep Impact
Just the facts, ma'am? Sure. Leoni's MSNBC reporter who stumbles upon a much bigger story than she could have imagined ("Ellie" ain't a politician's mistress, it's a friggin' civilization-destroying comet) may have the end of life as we know it on her mind, but we'd still run for cover with her any time. A no-nonsense newswoman with hotness to spare, she makes Lois Lane look a Gossip Girl blogger.
Helen Hunt in Twister
Before Twister hit theaters in 1996, a man wouldn't be caught dead watching Mad About You. But after seeing a shockingly stacked Helen Hunt running across the screen in a white tank top, dodging falling tractors and comically sized hail, we were left wondering if she dressed so revealingly for a schlub like Paul Reiser every week.
Emmy Rossum in The Day After Tomorrow
Though she spends the majority of the flick burning books for warmth in the New York Public Library and nursing a wound that gives her blood poisoning (she earned a breather after outrunning a tidal wave), it's easy to see why Jake Gyllenhall is so devoted to her. Hopefully you kids didn't burn that copy of the Kama Sutra!
Vivica A. Fox in Independence Day
It's a shame that Jasmine, a single mom and exotic dancer played by the vivacious Viv, spends much of her time on the run from aliens and protecting her kid rather than showing off her moves on a stripper pole. But even she's smeared with dirt and looking for survivors in the rubble-strewn streets of L.A., we can see why Will Smith made an honest woman out of her before heading to outer space and emailing a virus to the aliens' mothership. (That's what happened in this movie, right?)
Jacqueline Bisset in When Time Ran Out...
In between scuba-diving in The Deep (in little else but a white T-shirt) and seducing Andrew McCarthy in Class, the elegant Jacqueline Bisset appeared in this 1980 stinker, a film which effectively killed the disaster-movie boom that dominated the '70s. But don't blame Jackie or her co-star Paul Newman; they tried their best to look threatened by the cheeseball special effects of a volcano exploding on a remote Pacific island. And even with lava flowing around her, Bisset remained the hottest thing to be found.

In the field, storm chasers learn much about local and regional weather at the scene of the devastation. Across the country, armadas of instrument-packed vans, trucks and airplanes race to rendezvous with storm systems. In the past 10 years, experts have taken advantage of a new tool: radar-equipped trucks, some carrying a dish antenna 8 feet across.

During storm chases, Doppler On Wheels (DOW) systems train their electromagnetic beams on twisters and violent storms to gather data on the inner workings of tumultuous weather phenomena – the newest Rapid-Scan model uses six simultaneous beams to collect 3-D data in about 10 seconds. The truck can get within half a mile of a tornado and record detailed images, including spiraling bands of clouds and concentric rings of debris.

Those mobile Doppler radars—similar to the larger systems used for local or airport weather—are critical for what they reveal about the structures of tornadoes, hurricanes and other violent storms. Joshua Wurman and Jerry Straka developed DOW over a decade ago while conducting research at the University of Oklahoma. Wurman, now an adjunct professor at Penn State, continues to use the technology in his work at the Center for Severe Weather Research (CSWR) in Boulder, Colo.

Operated by CSWR, in close collaboration with NCAR, DOW has aided research on tornados and hurricanes, European mountain and valley winds, air turbulence – even the study of fires.  Data collected by these systems contribute to advanced computer simulations, which have in turn led to new discoveries about dangerous weather.

DOW has mapped the 3-D structure of tornadoes and documented their lifecycles, and uncovered a major, yet previously unknown, hurricane phenomenon – intense, organized wind streaks in the boundary air-mass between the land surface and the storm that can influence damage when a hurricane makes landfall.

With such highly detailed knowledge of storm structures, scientists are now gaining a better understanding of how, and when, tornadoes will form. For those already living in high-risk areas, researchers are trying to learn more about the root causes behind disasters and why some structures survive them while others do not.

Beverley Adams of ImageCat, Inc., Kishor Mehta of Texas Tech University and their colleagues, focused on damage caused by Hurricane Charley, the most devastating U.S. storm of 2004. By analyzing high-resolution pictures captured from space, the researchers found they could rapidly assess damage to a vast number of buildings, a technique that may one day prove invaluable to first responders and public officials trying to allocate resources after a crisis.

Evidence of storm damage is short-lived – due to natural causes such as erosion, and to the cleanup and restoration that follow the crisis. Rapid-response researchers like Adams must arrive on the scene before critical knowledge is lost to those efforts. By adding satellite imagery to their ground-based surveys, the team was able to record the condition of up to 2,500 buildings each day. Earlier methods were lucky to catch 100 buildings in the same day’s work.

In addition to natural calamities, our nation is also threatened by disasters caused by people. Whether unintentional, such as blackouts or chemical spills, or devised by foreign or domestic terrorists, these crises have proved to be as devastating as natural disasters, if not more so.

On Aug. 14, 2003, a catastrophic blackout cut off power for 50 million people across the Northeast and Midwest United States and in Ontario, Canada. While not intentional, human error played a major role. Many power system researchers believe that the enormous Northeast blackout was a combination of hazards, such as un-trimmed tree limbs, and weaknesses in the overall United States power grid system. In addition to the dangerous conditions resulting from the regional loss of power, businesses took an enormous economic hit from lost inventory and sales – a cost estimated to be as much as $8 billion in the United States alone.

On a smaller scale, blackouts are a familiar occurrence, often started by something as simple as power lines touching the branches of tall trees and compounded by weaknesses in the command and control systems for the power grid and an overall lack of excess capacity across the nation. For example, if something causes a power plant to go offline—such as a generator failure or lightning striking a transmission line—other plants will try to compensate for the loss by increasing their output.

However, as the plants attempt to meet the demands of the air conditioners, televisions and washing machines that were being handled by the now-failed power station, the added load may trigger some of the remaining plants to shut down to avoid damage. Compounding the problem, other stations may become isolated due to the multiple failures – these plants also go out of service since they no longer have a path along which to send their power.

Limitations in the computer networks, and even procedures, linking power plants in the grid can drive this cascading process. At this point, the blackout is well underway. Researchers have been tackling the problem of blackouts and developing tools to both understand these events and make the power system more reliable. The researchers are currently testing several new software tools that will quickly alert power-system operators when a catastrophe is imminent. They hope to provide enough warning to allow operators to make rapid decisions that could prevent the spread of power disruptions from one region to the next.

Sometimes, disaster damage is made worse by people’s choices to live in high-risk areas. Understanding how to help people avoid risky homesite choices is a start. Homes built along floodplains or in drought-prone regions are particularly vulnerable – in 2003 alone, Southern California wildfires destroyed 750,043 acres and 3,710 homes, and took 24 lives in just 15 days.

Research into how human emotion drives decisions can also help us understand how personal choices make a crisis worse. Howard Kunreuther of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School and his colleagues found that most people living in areas prone to floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and other devastating natural disasters take no steps to protect themselves or their property.

These residents ignore precautions proven to be life-saving and cost-effective, such as strapping down water heaters or bolting houses to foundations, and neglect to buy hazard insurance – even when the federal government provides substantial subsidies. While financial concerns play a role, Kunreuther found that the main problem is people believe disasters may affect others, but not themselves.

Maxim Staff. The Hottest Women of Disaster Movies. Maxim [Print + Kindle] . Nonember 2009.

top of page
back a page
Coastal Reconstruction In The Aftermath Of Storms | Residents Of High-risk Areas Return, Again And Again | Tornadoes To Terrorism, And Everything In Between | The Crosshairs Of Disaster | The Most Unpredictable And Dangerous Disasters | Disasters Can Happen Anywhere | The Disaster Won't Slow Migration Into Fire-prone Areas | The Hardest Work Of All | Karst Areas Are Characterized By Special Features Not Present Elsewhere | Landslide Describes A Wide Variety Of Processes | Fast-moving Flows Of Mud And Rock
  Take Me To:
What? Strange? Peculiar? Maybe! [Home]
The Animal Kingdom | Man's Best Friend | The Mystery Of Our Bodies | Health Condition | Diet And Exercise | Doctors May Not Know It All | Forces Of Evil | A Do-or-die Test Of Will And Know-how | The Meaning Of Life | Live In A Disaster-prone Area? | Man-made Disasters | Maritime Disasters | Meteorological Phenomena | Hurricanes And Natural Forces | Fire Kills More People Than Any Other Force Of Nature | Only My Opinion | What Science Knows And What The Public Knows | Earth Has Seasons | Spending Your Money | The Venture Into The Vastness Of Space
Questions? Anything Not Work? Not Look Right? My Policy Is To Blame The Computer.
Oneliners, Stories, etc. | About What? Strange? Peculiar? | Site Navigation | Parting Shots | Google Search
My Other Sites: Cruisin' - A Little Drag Racin', Nostalgia And My Favorite Rides | The Eerie Side Of Things | It's An Enigma | That"s Entertainment | Just For The Fun Of It | Gender Wars | Golf And Other Non-Contact Sports | JCS Group, Inc., A little business... A little fun... | John Wayne: American, The Movies And The Old West | Something About Everything Military | The Spell Of The West | Once Upon A Time | By The People, For The People | Something About Everything Racin' | Baseball and Other Contact Sports | The St. Louis Blues At The Arena | What? Strange? Peculiar? Maybe.