2017 ‘One of Worst’ for U.S. Weather with 15 Events Costing $1 Billion or More

In the year that President Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris accord and downplayed global warming as a security threat, the U.S. received a harsh reminder of the perils of the rise in the planet’s temperature: a destructive rash of hurricanes, fires and floods.

The country recorded 15 weather events costing $1 billion or more each through early October, one short of the record 16 in 2011, according to the federal government’s National Centers for Environmental Information in Asheville, North Carolina. And the tally doesn’t include the recent wildfires in southern California.

In many cases, weather broke records. In others, it was just downright odd, like the February warm spell that sent temperatures to a record 72 Fahrenheit (22 Celsius) in Burlington, Vermont, and spawned a tornado in Massachusetts.

Did Lack of Training, Familiarization with New Route Cause Train Derailment?

The initial facts of Monday’s train derailment Monday in Washington state are that three people died when the Amtrak train failed to slow to the 30-mph speed reduction and left the track at 80 mph.

But questions abound: Why didn’t the engineer slow the train to the required 30 mph? Did he lose situational awareness? If so, why? Was it a lack of training? And why is it taking so long to deploy positive train control (PTC), which could have prevented this and many other accidents?

“My initial reaction was that it’s completely tragic and never should have happened,” said John Risch, national legislative director of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers Transportation Division. “Did the guy know the curve was coming up?

Taking to the Air: Drones and Law Enforcement

(TNS) - Only a decade ago, the idea of using flying cameras to solve crimes seemed like something out of a made-for-TV science fiction film.

Today, however, fiction has become a reality, and police agencies across the country increasingly are turning to these miniature aerial platforms to help in their work.

Defined in legal terms as unmanned aerial systems, but more commonly known as drones, they're also helping survey storm damage, checking hard-to-reach areas on bridges and towers, showing off real estate or scouting out possible construction sites.

But it's their use by police and other law enforcement agencies where drones have received the most public attention.

How California and Western States Should Shift Their Fire Prevention Strategy

(TNS) - When the phone rang at 4:50 a.m. Thursday, I woke up on high alert. No one calls that early with good news.

When I saw the caller ID said “CSUN Emergency,” my heart started racing. My youngest son, Cameron, attends California State University-Northridge. High alert shifted to dread.

It turned out the call was just to inform us that CSUN was canceling classes that day due to poor air quality and transportation issues stemming from the massive Southern California wildfires. What a relief. But there was no chance I would go back to sleep without finding out how close the fires were to CSUN’s dorms and what the strategy was for putting the fires out.

Oroville Dam Repairs Concern Calif. Residents

Construction of a new spillway at the Oroville Dam in northern California—the largest dam in the U.S.—is underway and is expected to be completed sometime in 2018, according to the California Department of Water Resources. The dam replaces the previous spillway, which was damaged by heavy flooding in February.

Problems at the Oroville Dam began, when the dam’s main sluice was damaged after a winter season of record rain and snowfall, following five years of drought. Torrential rainfall caused water levels to rise so quickly that large amounts needed to be released to prevent the dam from rupturing and sending a wall of water to the communities below.

Researchers say federal flood risk data ‘severely underestimates’ real risk

Research conducted by a team of U.S-U.K. scientists and engineers shows federal flood maps underestimate at-risk Americans by more than 27 million people.

The group is called Fathom, and they presented their research at the 2017 American Geophysical Union Meeting on Dec. 11 — research they say fills in “vast amounts of missing information” in current federal flood risk assessments.

The role of EAPs in the wake of natural disasters

When tragedy strikes, a quick response is critical. And that includes organizations with employees impacted by the situation.

Experiences with recent and ongoing examples, such as Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, wildfires in the western U.S., and a number of other natural disasters, demonstrate the need to act fast, which requires having a plan in place before something happens.

Do Your Records Put Your Business at Risk?

When it comes to record management and customer notifications, the legal requirements for businesses are vastly different from state-to-state. Take for example California, where businesses are required by law to immediately notify a state resident if his or her personal information has been acquired by an unauthorized user. Most states have similar laws. In Alabama, however, there is no state law requiring a business to notify customers of a data breach.

But only doing the bare minimum of what is legally required can still leave your business vulnerable to reputational harm, loss of customers and disruption of business processes that may prove catastrophic in the long run. Ask yourself this: If it were your data stolen, would you want or even expect to be notified?