Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Climate Crisis and the Canadian Wildfires

 Political figures such as AOC and Bernie Sanders, along with leaders from the entertainment and activism spheres, issued a stark warning on Wednesday about the dire implications of the wildfire smoke engulfing the East Coast. They emphasized that this smoke is a clear indication of the ongoing climate crisis.

Drawing attention to the smoke and the recent extreme temperatures in Puerto Rico, New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter, emphasizing our lack of preparedness for the climate crisis. She called for immediate action to adapt our food systems, energy grids, infrastructure, and healthcare to effectively respond to and mitigate the forthcoming challenges.

Echoing similar concerns, progressive advocate Bernie Sanders expressed on Twitter that approximately 98 million people on the East Coast are currently under air quality alerts due to the Canadian fires, and highlighted that New York City recently experienced the world's worst air quality. He stressed the connection between climate change and the increased frequency and intensity of wildfires, urging urgent action to avoid this becoming our new reality.

The impact of the smoke was not limited to the halls of Congress, as prominent celebrities also shared their thoughts. Bravo TV host Andy Cohen posted on Instagram, remarking on the apocalyptic atmosphere caused by the pervasive smoke in New York City.

Scientists concurred that the wildfire incidents were unmistakable signs of the existing climate crisis and served as a glimpse into the future if necessary changes are not implemented. In a statement, the Sierra Club, an environmental advocacy organization, highlighted that the record-breaking Air Quality Index (AQI) levels in New York City due to Canadian wildfire smoke were indicative of the climate crisis. The statement also pointed out that similar crises are already prevalent in other parts of the world.

Supporting these observations, Dr. Lucky Tran from Columbia University shared a video on Twitter, showcasing an unusually hazy sunrise over New York City caused by the wildfire smoke. Dr. Tran emphasized that air quality levels were significantly unhealthy, surpassing the guidelines recommended by the WHO, thus underscoring the reality of living through the climate crisis.

The entire northeastern region of the United States is currently grappling with smoke drifting south from over 400 wildfires raging in Canada. These fires have prompted mass evacuations in Quebec and Canadian officials are concerned that this could become the country's most severe wildfire season on record, with more than 6.7 million acres already destroyed.

Here are a few resources to review Air Quality Alerts for your area:  

In English:

In Spanish (En Español:

References; and Yahoo News

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Thank you from The_Weather_Vane

Happy Thanksgiving from The_Weather_Vane..

I am thankful for my family and friends. I am also thankful for first responders. Doctors, Nurses, EMS and Firefighters

Here is a list of fire companies in PA

Aleppo Township VFD, Station 101
Aspinwall VFD, Station 102
Avalon VFD, Station 103
Allegheny Township VFC #1
Allentown Fire Department
America Hook and Ladder 25/53
Alpha Fire Company
Altoona City Fire
South Baldwin VFC, Station 104
Baldwin #1 VFD, Station 105
Beale Township Fire Department (Juniata County)
Becks Run VFD, Station 106
Option (Bladwin) VFD, Station 107
Bellevue VFD, Station 108
Bellwood Fire Department
Bethlehem Fire Department
Benton Fire Company
Bernville Fire Company (Berks County)
Bristol Consolidated Fire Department
Bristol Fire Co.
Bridgeville Fire Department
Cochran Hose Company #1 (Sewickley VFD)
Carnegie Volunteer Fire Department
Castle Shannon Volunteer Fire Department
Center Square Volunteer Fire Company
Cetronia Volunteer Fire Department
Chester Hill Hose Company (Clearfield County station 14)

Connellsville Township Volunteer Fire Department
Citizens Hose Company #5 (County Station #6)
Colmar Volunteer Fire Company
Crescent Township VFD, Station 129
Croydon Fire Company
Columbia Fire Company (Clearfield County station 22)

Dawson Volunteer Fire Department
Delano Fire Company No. 1
Delaware County Firefighting
Dormont Fire Department
Dunnstown Fire Company
Reliance Hose Company #1, Elisabethville, PA
Elmhurst-Roaring Brook Volunteer Fire Company
Fire Department of Montgomery Township
Flourtown Fire Company
Fort Washington Fire Company
Goodwill Hose Co., Bristol Borough
Harrisburg Bureau of Fire
Hand-In-Hand Hose Company #1
Harmonville Fire Company
Harleysville Volunteer Fire Company
Hamlin Fire and Rescue
Hershey Fire Department
Hope Hose Company #2, Lock Haven, PA
Horsham Volunteer Fire Company
Kimberton Fire Company
Kirwan Heights Fire Department
Lake Carey Volunteer Fire Company, Lemon twp. Wyoming County
Levittown Fire Company No. 2
Levittown Fire Company. No. 1
Logan Township Fire
Malvern Fire Company
Mehoopany Vol. Fire Co.
Minersville Fire Rescue
Montgomery Volunteer Fire Department
Mt. Lebanon Fire Department
Moon Township VFD, Station 197
Morrisville Fire Department
North Fayette Township Volunteer Fire Department
North Penn Volunteer Fire Company
Northmoreland Township Volunteer Fire Company
Nuremberg-Weston Volunteer Fire Company
Old Forge Fire Department
Penn Hills Fire Service
Philadelphia Fire Department
Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire
Pottstown Fire Department
Radnor Fire Company, Wayne
Rangers Hose Company, Girardville
Reading, Pennsylvania Fire Department
Republic Volunteer Fire Company
Rosedale Volunteer Fire Department
Shanksville Volunteer Fire Department
Scalp Level and Paint Borough Fire Company
Skippack Fire Company
South Media Fire Co.
Springdale Volunteer Fire Department
Union Fire Company
Township of Spring Volunteer Fire Rescue
Thompson Hose Company
Tilbury Plymouth Twp 169
Trevose Fire Company 4, Feasterville-Trevose
Trevose Fire Company 84
Towamencin Volunteer Fire Company
United Fire Co., Montrose, PA
Upper Gwynedd Fire Department
Upper Darby Fire Department
Upper Saint Clair Volunteer Fire Department
West Chester Fire Department
Windber Fire Company #1
Worcester Volunteer Fire Company
Union Fire Company No. 1, Oxford, PA
Keystone Valley Volunteer Fire Company No. 08

I apologize if an fire company was missed.. 

Thank you,
Pat Saavedra
Social media manager
Storm Spotter

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Operations update 2015

A Big move, and new outlook..

I wanted to say thank you again to all the followers of The_Weather_Vane and provide you with an update regarding our voluntary news media operations.

The blog and the Facebook page was founded in 2011 based on my obsession with weather, science and photography.  I started posting publicly based on my personal experience with a dangerous tropical event that I went through when I lived in South America. When I lived down there I found out the hard way that the local news did not have an effective way to issuing a warnings about impending severe weather.  This is why when I moved back to the states I started to watch weather events in the U.S and see how the News handled issuing warnings. I thought that being in a more developed country would automatically mean superior access to news.   Then I started a blog and wrote regularly and took photos.  Originally I was not able to set up a proper weather station to provide direct data. (more about this later).   I have been trying to point out that, how informed is the general public when it comes to severe weather and being prepared.   Here are some statistics that I put together.  The United States has about 280 million internet users.  This does not show  how many people are reading the news 24/7 and would be informed if a severe weather event is unfolding.  We also have to see how we can communicate to a portion of the elderly where they may not be computer literate.

When I started writing I was in a small apartment in Horsham PA where I had several issues where I could not set up much other then a NOAA weather alert radio and a wireless thermometer.  I am grateful that I had cheap rent, decent educational opportunities and the convenience of being close to work and family.

Here is a typical picture taken from my balcony.  I took this pic back in March of 2013 which was a late snowfall day.

After meeting my wife a few years ago we patiently planned to see where we could move to provide us with more space.  We have finally and thankfully had the opportunity to purchase a home.  The good thing is that the News operations of The_Weather_Vane will stay in Montgomery County. We will be moving from Horsham to Collegeville PA.  I know this move is more of a personal decision and may not appear to be one that was to improve blog and my ability to issue weather news (that is really what the experts are out there really for).   I am a dedicated weather enthusiast and a volunteer storm spotter.  I do not issue my own forecasts however I can help by being a social media manager and with this ability I can help the public by spreading the news to more eyes than  professional sources that more often then not ignored.  This is because of peoples perception of priorities.  Ask the average teenager about what the weather forecast is for tomorrow and they would probably shrug their shoulders.  This is sad because I have checked and found that most people that follow me online are over the age of 35.  My work with issuing weather and other information using Social Media might just grab the attention of a few people and help the public.   I spoke to a few experts and some of them did not see that communication via smartphones and social media is the best way.  I disagree because we have to consider that a big portion of our public is not looking for weather alerts.  How else do we get their attention if we try to post a small important message on a cell phone or on FB, etc.?

  In the last year I have been focusing more in providing weather alerts on social media rather then posting stories on the blog.  I hope to start writing again soon and I apologize for the lack of stories.
So now that we are moving I may be able to finally set up a weather station and be able to take more pictures.  Collegeville has a long history of flooding just like the Pennypack creek area between Horsham and Northeast Philly.  I will use the move as an opportunity to reorganize and update the blog and to find new areas in Montgomery County to report about.

I want to thank Kari, my wife for her support and patience and Len Martelli who is a good friend and a great Real Estate Agent.

Thank you,

Pat Saavedra
Social Media Manager

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Hurricane Awareness Tour 2015

For the last two years I have attended Hurricane Awareness workshops and because of this I was asked to call into "Barometer Bob Show"back in 2013.  No matter who or what I read or listen to in these events the common theme is to be prepared and be aware of severe weather.   Everyone on the east coast still talks about Hurricane Sandy and how it impacted the general area.

So to continue my quest to learn, I went to the Hurricane Awareness Tour on May 4th which was located at the William J. Hughes Technical Center next to the Atlantic City Airport.  This tour was a unique experience for all ages.  Not only did you get to see the Hurricane Hunter Aircraft but you got to see equipment, brief presentations and lectures from the experts in tracking Hurricanes. Sadly I learned that this tour only occurs on the east coast every 20+ years (last tour was back in 1991).

In the beginning of the tour our small group was led to a hangar where representatives from different agencies were doing lectures about forecasting and the sciences of tracking tropical storms.

Staff from the local emergency offices such as FEMA, The American Red Cross, the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes and the Mt. Holly National Weather Service office were there to answer questions.  (all were great in answering questions)

After leaving the hanger, our guide directed us outside to where there were several aircraft that are actually being used to track hurricanes to keep the public safe.

The first aircraft I went to was the large WC-130J flown by the USAF Reserve 53rd Reconnaissance Squadron.  There was a long line to board the aircraft and I could not pass up an opportunity like this.  I waited in the line on a nice spring day. The weather was perfect for this event and there was a nice breeze that at one point knocked my hat off my head.

As I moved forward in the line, I was able to see the shear size of this aircraft. 

After some time I was able to see the banner at the back entrance of the aircraft.

I briefly met Weather Officer Leesa Froelich who was there earlier in the day to give a tour to school students.

 Image above (I believe) is equipment used to measure storms while flying through a hurricane.

A view inside the aircraft.

Next I walked around the NOAA G-IV jet aircraft.

Outside there was a display with members of the crew explaining the missions and equipment used on board.  One instrument is a Dropsonde (see graphic below)

"Dropsonde" by NASA - modified in PNG. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -
"Dropsonde U.S. Air Force" by Staff Sgt. Randy Redman of the US Air Force - Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -
The crew member of the NOAA G-IV answered my questions about the Dropsonde and let me hold one.  He said they drop roughly 20 of these probes when flying above a hurricane. The data is streamed live (by satellite). The device measures pressure, temperature, dewpoint, wind speed and wind direction of the tropopause (an outer layer of our atmosphere where weather changes occur).  It also has a GPS sensor so it measure its location as well as the time of the drop.  I was told that each of these probes cost roughly $700 and they simply fall into the ocean.  The discussion about this instrument was very interesting.

This was really the end of the tour however as a bonus the USAF and US Coast Guard kindly had their aircraft on display.  This is a must see tour and a great educational experience and I recommend to everyone.

Credit for this blog story must go to.  NOAA/NWS office at Mt. Holly New Jersey WFO for NJ, PA, DE and MD.  Wikipedia, 

I also read from the National Hurricane Center website and their twitter feed about the tour.

Thank you to the National Weather Service.
Photographs by Pat Saavedra, author of this blog except for the Dropsonde images as noted above.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Being "Ready" for a Winter Storm

.. coldest season of the year, between autumn and spring; the name comes from an old Germanic word that means “time of water” and refers to the rain and snow of winter in middle and high latitudes. In the Northern Hemisphere it is commonly regarded as extending from the winter solstice (year’s shortest day), December 21 or 22, to the vernal equinox (day and night equal in length), March 20 or 21, and in the Southern Hemisphere from June 21 or 22 to September 22 or 23. The low temperatures associated with winter occur only in middle and high latitudes; in equatorial regions, temperatures are almost uniformly high throughout the year.  - per the Encyclopedia Britannica

Except for the unfortunate and deadly freezing rain event that caught many by surprise in the Philly area, Winter 2015 has not been that much of a challenge when compared to the deep snowfall we saw last year.  Being prepared makes a big difference between life and death situations.  The average person may not pay attention to the news to know what storm is headed our way, or have the proper basic gear in their car.  This could be a problem if you venture out into a big snowstorm and end up stranded on a major highway where you could be miles from a gas station or even an exit ramp to find water, medication, fuel or even food. Highway "Shut Downs' do occur more than we think.

Former PA governor Rendell had to investigate what happened on I78 during a snow storm that left many motorists stranded for days (back in 2007).  Please read this story by the NY Times: story I78

So this all being said I wanted readers to pay attention to the news, please do not take the weather reports for granted and do make sure your family and friends are safe this winter.

What can you do to be prepared for a winter storm?
Here is a Great list by the CDC   (original website here: Supply list by the CDC )

Winter Checklist:

Stock up on emergency supplies for communication, food, safety, heating, and vehicles in case a storm hits.

Communication Checklist
Make sure you have at least one of the following in case there is a power failure:
Cell phone, portable charger, and extra batteries.
Battery-powered radio, with extra batteries, for listening to local emergency instructions
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio receiver for listening to National Weather Service broadcasts. Learn more about NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards.
Find out how your community warns the public about severe weather:
  • Siren
  • Radio
  • Television
  • Local public health and emergency management websites
  • Listen to emergency broadcasts.
  • Make a Family Communication Plan. Your family may not be together during an extreme winter event, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together, and what you will do during an emergency.
Be sure to check on older neighbors and family members; assist as necessary.
Know what winter storm warning terms mean:
Winter Weather Advisory: Expect winter weather condition (e.g., accumulation of snow, freezing rain, and sleet) that could cause severe inconvenience and life-threatening hazards.
Frost/Freeze Warning: Expect below-freezing temperatures.
Winter Storm Watch: Be alert; a storm is likely.
Winter Storm Warning: Take action; the storm is in or entering the area.
Blizzard Warning: Seek refuge immediately! Snow and strong winds, near-zero visibility, deep snow drifts, and life-threatening wind chill.
Other terms are available from NOAA.
  • Heating Checklist
Turning on the stove for heat is not safe; have at least one of the following heat sources in case the power goes out:
  • Extra blankets, sleeping bags, and warm winter coats
  • Fireplace with plenty of dry firewood or a gas log fireplace
  • Portable space heaters or kerosene heaters
  • Check with your local fire department to make sure that kerosene heaters are legal in your area.
  • Use electric space heaters with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements.
  • Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water.
  • Never leave children unattended near a space heater.
  • Keep heat sources at least 3 feet away from furniture and drapes.
  • Have the following safety equipment:
  • Chemical fire extinguisher
  • Smoke alarm in working order (Check prior to winter storm season and change batteries, if needed.)
  • Carbon monoxide detector (Check prior to winter storm season and change batteries, if needed.)
Never use an electric generator indoors, inside the garage, or near the air intake of your home because of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Do not use the generator or appliances if they are wet.
Do not store gasoline indoors where the fumes could ignite.
Use individual heavy-duty, outdoor-rated cords to plug in other appliances.

  •  Cooking and Lighting Checklist
Use battery-powered flashlights or lanterns.
Never use charcoal grills or portable gas camp stoves indoors. The fumes are deadly.
Avoid using candles as these can lead to house fires.
If you do use candles, never leave lit candles alone.
  • Food and Safety Checklist
Have a week’s worth of food and safety supplies. If you live far from other people, have more supplies on hand. Make sure you have the following supplies:

  • Drinking water
  • Canned/no-cook food (bread, crackers, dried fruits)
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Baby food and formula (if baby in the household)
  • Prescription drugs and other medicine
  • First-aid kit
  • Rock-salt to melt ice on walkways
  • Supply of cat litter or bag of sand to add traction on walkways
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Battery-powered lamps or lanterns
  • (To prevent the risk of fire, avoid using candles.)
  • Water Checklist
Keep a water supply. Extreme cold can cause water pipes in your home to freeze and sometimes break.

Leave all water taps slightly open so they drip continuously.
Keep the indoor temperature warm.
Allow more heated air near pipes. Open kitchen cabinet doors under the kitchen sink.
If your pipes do freeze, do not thaw them with a torch. Thaw the pipes slowly with warm air from an electric hair dryer.
If you cannot thaw your pipes, or if the pipes have broken open, use bottled water or get water from a neighbor’s home.
Fill the bathtub or have bottled water on hand.
In an emergency, if no other water is available, snow can be melted for water. Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute will kill most germs but won’t get rid of chemicals sometimes found in snow.
  • Car and Emergency Checklist
Is Your Vehicle Winter Ready? - A bird character near the back of a vehicle with a water bottle, flash light, ice scraper, jumper cables, cell phone, shovel, first aid kit, and blankets.Minimize travel, but if travel is necessary, keep the following in your vehicle:

  • Cell phone, portable charger, and extra batteries
  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper
  • Battery-powered radio with extra batteries
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Water
  • Snack food
  • Extra hats, coats, and mittens
  • Blankets
  • Chains or rope
  • Tire chains
  • Canned compressed air with sealant for emergency tire repair
  • Road salt and sand
  • Booster cables
  • Emergency flares
  • Bright colored flag or help signs
  • First aid kit
  • Tool kit
  • Road maps
  • Compass
  • Waterproof matches and a can to melt snow for water
  • Paper towels

You should check you local news source for storm updates.
For weather information you can check The National Weather Service

Be Prepared so that you can be safe..