In the United States, thunderstorms and lightning strides occur more frequently in Florida. The cause death, injury or damage. Further, the high velocity winds cause damage to structures and severe thunderstorms produce hail and winds that reach speeds of fifty – eight miles per hour. The number of casualties due to thunderstorms is very high in Florida (Florida Hazards Watch ). Thunderstorms cause lightning and tornadoes in Florida. Generally, hail stones do not pose any great threat in Southwest Florida because they usually melt before reaching the earth (THUNDERSTORMS AND LIGHTNING).
Annually, sixteen million thunderstorms form around the globe. Nearly one hundred thousand thunderstorms take place in the United States and of these ten percent cause casualties. According to the National Weather Service, a severe thunderstorm is one that causes winds up to fifty – eight miles per hour or more and hail stones that are three – fourths of an inch or larger (THUNDERSTORM HAZARDS).
Florida is notorious for the large number of lightning deaths that take place there and has been termed the lightning capital of the country. The number of deaths caused by lightning in the US in the period 1959 to 2003 was nearly 3,696 people and the number of injured people was almost two thousand since 1959 in Florida (Roach).
A tornado is a column of air that rotates very quickly and which protrudes from the inside of a cloud to the ground. It brushes aside structures, sucks cars and automobiles into itself and tosses rail road cars into the air. The diameter of tornadoes varies greatly from thirty feet to a mile. The average diameter of a tornado is one hundred and sixty feet (Shapiro). Strong tornadoes occur in spring due to the pressure of the jet stream. The jet stream enters Florida from the south. It is escorted by a strong cold front and a strong thunderstorm. The jet stream’s winds fortify the thunderstorm into a supercell or mesocyclone. These storms move at speeds of thirty to fifty miles per hour. They create deadly downburst winds, hail and fatal tornadoes. These deadly tornadoes occur usually in the months of February, March and April. Florida is ranked number four in respect of the frequency with which tornadoes make their appearance (Florida Tornadoes).
Hurricane can be termed as tropical cyclones and they cause severe damage to people and structures. The dangers caused by hurricanes include storm gush, high velocity winds, heavy downpour and floods. In 1955,the hurricane Diane killed one hundred and eighty four people although in intensity it was a Category 1 hurricane. A hurricane makes a landfall called the storm surge. This storm surge is a dome of water that sweeps across the land as a huge tidal wave that is fifty to hundred miles wide and fifteen feet deep ( National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
On receipt of a hurricane warning from the Metrologic department the residents should quickly secure all door and window panels. Evacuating people should carry the emergency medical kits with them. Such persons should switch of the power supply and turn off the gas valves. While the hurricane is passing, everyone should remain indoors. In the absence of a notification from the meteorological department regarding the passing of the hurricane, no one should venture outdoors (Williams).
Radon is a colorless, odorless radioactive gaseous element that is the heaviest of the noble gases in the periodic table. These charged radioactive particles go into the lungs whole inhaling and cause severe damage to the lung tissue. Cigarette smoking coupled with radon inhalation could have a fatal effect. This combination accelerates the chances of falling prey to lung cancer (Solomon). Fifty percent of the total exposure to radioactive substances is due to Radon. It poses a risk that is a thousand times greater than that due to any other carcinogen or toxin controlled by the FDA or EPA (Radon).
Radon is released into the atmosphere from uranium based granite deposits. Actually the atmosphere contains less radon than the ground soil. As the temperature of a house is more than that of the soil, the air pressure is less in a house and due to this gases from the soil enter a house readily. The average Radon level in Florida is 1.8 pCi/L, or pico curies per liter of air, whereas the EPA acceptable level is 4 pCi/L. (Indoor Radon).
Since Radon is colorless, odorless and tasteless, only a radon test can establish how much of it enters one’s home. One can conduct a short term test using Charcoal canisters, alpha tract, etc. In such tests the detectors will be present from two to ninety days. Another method is to employ a long term test in which either an Alpha track or electrets detectors are used. This test requires the detector to be in place for a period that is greater than ninety days. Such tests can be conducted inexpensively and easily. Since factors like soil, particulars of the construction and amount of depressurization vary from house to house, the results of a radon test at each house will be different. Therefore, neither the results of adjoining houses nor the results of tests conducted in the past can be relied upon to give proper results, because a number of structural changes could have taken place in the house, since the previous test (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).
Domestic Radon levels can be reduced by sealing openings and cracks in the foundation of a house; although this does not completely stop the entry of Radon into the house it limits the inflow significantly. Another method is to blow air into the basement or living area from a place in the house which is a greater elevation. The disadvantage with this method is that it permits the entry of moisture and causes a loss of energy in the form of heat. In addition, a heat recovery ventilator or HRV can be used to reduce the Radon level. Moreover, by allowing fresh air to enter the house the Radon level in the house can be reduced significantly. However, this method cannot be adopted as a permanent measure because of the loss of air-conditioned air and security risks (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).
Earthquakes do not pose a major threat in Florida as it constitutes one of the very few low earthquake risk areas in the US. Due to seismological stability the Florida Platform suffers from very few earthquakes. Despite the fact that earthquakes can occur anywhere at any time, this stability has been the cause for the occurrence of very few major earthquakes. Earthquakes are caused by the accumulation of stress and slippage along fault lines. The available evidence does not reveal the existence of any such faults or the accumulation of stress. Therefore it is highly unlikely that any major earthquake will take place in Florida (Randazzo and Smith).
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Florida Hazards Watch . What Makes a Severe Thunderstorm? 25 April 2007 <http://www.floridadisaster.org/bpr/EMTOOLS/Severe/thunderstorms.htm>.
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Randazzo, Anthony and Douglas Smith. Earthquakes in Florida? 26 April 2007 <http://clasnews.clas.ufl.edu/clasnotes/clasnotes/9801/quake.html>.
Roach, John. Key to Lightning Deaths: Location, Location, Location . 22 June 2004. 25 April 2007 <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/05/0522_030522_lightning.html>.
Shapiro, Alan. “Tornado.” Microsoft® Encarta® 2006 [DVD]. Microsoft® Encarta® 2006 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2005. , 2005.
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THUNDERSTORM HAZARDS. 25 April 2007 <http://www.srh.noaa.gov/key/HTML/tstmhazards.htm>.
THUNDERSTORMS AND LIGHTNING. 25 April 2007 <http://www.leeeoc.com/2005/guide/ThunderstormsLightning.htm>.
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Williams, Jack. “Hurricane.” Microsoft® Encarta® 2006 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2005 .