Entries in Weather (17)


Hot Discovery Helps 'Cold' Sufferers

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Imagine a world where it feels like 72 degrees outside even when the temperature is below 32.

University of Southern California researchers have discovered a neuron in mice that senses "normal cold responses in mammals."

Long story short, this could lead to a drug for humans who are extremely sensitive to cold temperatures.

Basically, the USC scientists shut down this neuron channel in the rodents, making them impervious to "cool and painfully cold temperatures."  The mice also weren't able to tell the difference between cold and warm temperatures.

At the moment, the procedure is irreversible but researchers hope to discover a drug that might temporarily provide relief for humans who are hypersensitive to the cold.

USC neurobiologist David McKenny says don't get too excited though because any breakthrough won't mean you can discard your overcoat.

He says humans need to feel the sting from the cold, which lets them know to get out of it.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Nor'easter Stress Is Normal for Sandy Survivors

EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- At the height of superstorm Sandy, Jane Frank clung to her husband and three boys as the water rose. It flooded their basement and rose as high as the first floor of their Belle Harbor home in the Rockaway section of Queens. Despite the pounding rains and gusting winds, they were forced to open the upstairs windows because the smell of gas from leaks and fires in the area made it difficult to breathe.

Now their house is uninhabitable. She's relocated her family a hundred miles away to her parent's summer home in upstate New York.

And Frank said she's feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about the future. The nor'easter that bore down on the area Wednesday made her particularly anxious.

"With another storm coming in I feel like we are up against a clock," she said. "We're terrified it will set things back and it'll take even longer to get back home."

Simon Rego, the director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, said Frank's anxiety over the incoming weather is perfectly normal, considering what she's been through.

"People's brains are wired with a radar system that helps them look out for potential threats," he said. "It makes sense that after going through a traumatic event like a natural disaster we're primed to react to similar events."

Frank probably isn't the only one who's feeling nervous about the incoming storm system. Rego said anyone who weathered the worst of Sandy may already be suffering from acute stress disorder, a precursor to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Looking up at the storm clouds may make them feel anxious, fearful and depressed, he said, or they may feel a sense of emotional detachment to what's going on around them. They may have trouble sleeping and eating – or may they sleep too much and overeat. They may become obsessed with news reports about the storm or go to great lengths to avoid them altogether. Headaches, stomach upsets and other physical ailments are also typical symptoms of stress.

"For someone who has experienced Sandy, they may fear the worst is yet to come with this new storm," Rego said.

According to Rego, it's natural to feel worried about a storm coming in right on the heels of a superstorm. For people who've recently gone without power, heat, water -- or a place to live -- it brings up legitimate concerns.

But there are ways to help oneself. Rego said it's important to keep things in perspective by recognizing Sandy was a storm of historical proportions and a very rare event.

"Try to balance the extreme negative thoughts with more reality-based thoughts. There will be snow and wind this time around, but nothing that's predicted will be on the same scale as what Hurricane Sandy gave us," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Lightning Safety 101: Tips for Protecting You and Your Family

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- John Jensenius, a lightning safety specialist for the National Weather Service, offered this advice for staying safe when there is a threat of lightning:

Summer is a great time to enjoy outdoor activities, but being outdoors when a thunderstorm is in the area puts you at risk of becoming a lightning victim. Lightning can strike 10 miles from a thunderstorm and if you hear thunder, you’re likely within striking distance of the storm. If you plan to be outdoors, here are some tips that could save your life.

Before Going Out:

  • Listen to the forecast and consider canceling or postponing activities if thunderstorms are predicted.
  • Know where you’ll go for safety in case a thunderstorm develops.

While Outside:

  • Monitor weather conditions and seek shelter at the first sign of a developing or approaching storm.
  • If you hear thunder, immediately get inside a substantial building (one with wiring and plumbing) or hard-topped metal vehicle.
  • If you can’t get inside, never shelter under a tree or other tall objects that could increase your risk of being struck.

While Inside:

  • Avoid contact with anything that is plugged into the wall, such as appliances and computers.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing, including sinks, tubs, and showers.
  • Stay off corded phones.
  • Stay away from windows and doors.
  • Wait 30 minutes after the last thunder before returning outside.

If Someone Is Struck:

  • Victims do not carry an electrical charge and may need immediate medical help.
  • Call 911 for help.
  • Monitor the victim and begin CPR or use an AED if necessary.

Remember, there is no safe place outside when a thunderstorm is in the area.  When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Are Temperature Swings Killing the Elderly?

Comstock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- After the warmest March on record, people are already talking about whether a scorching summer lies ahead.

It turns out that even small changes in summer temperature may pose a health risk to older adults with chronic medical conditions, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Summers in which temperatures were more of a roller-coaster ride posed a greater hazard for people who had recently been hospitalized for a variety of illnesses than those summers with steadier temperatures.

The study looked at patients over the age of 65 who lived in one of 135 U.S. cities for over 20 years, and who had recently been hospitalized for heart attacks, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, or diabetes.

Researchers found that for each extra Celsius degree in temperature swings, older people with these conditions experienced a 2.8 to four percent increased risk of dying, depending on their condition. Based on these increases in rates, they estimate temperature variability could account for thousands of additional deaths per year.

“People adapt to the usual temperature in their city,” says Joel Schwartz, professor of environmental epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and senior author of the study. “That is why we don’t expect higher mortality rates in Miami than in Minneapolis, despite the higher temperatures. But people do not adapt as well to increased fluctuations around the usual temperature.”

“This finding, combined with the increasing age of the population, the increasing prevalence of chronic conditions such as diabetes, and possible increases in temperature fluctuations due to climate change, means this public health problem is likely to grow in importance in the future,” Schwartz said.

The study notes that death rates and temperature swings were dampened in cities with more green space. Could trees help prevent deaths going forward?

Another potential intervention could include warning systems to be put in place when temperatures change by a certain amount.

“These findings are the first to demonstrate health risks related to temperature variability,” says Patrick Kinney, director of the Columbia University Climate and Health Program.

The study looked at temperature changes independent of heat waves and ozone levels, which are also linked to an increased risk of death in the elderly. Future work will focus on why the elderly do not adapt as well to heat, and whether changes in heart rate and blood pressure may be driving the increased risk.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


High March Temps May Lead to Early Allergies, Bed Bugs

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While most people enjoyed the unseasonably warm March temperatures, the early-bird spring may contribute to a host of health problems, experts said.

More than 7,500 daily record-high temperatures were set last month, and that included more than 540 places that set all-time highs, according to Chris Dolce, a meteorologist at

"We had a lot of precipitation during the winter and now we have these unseasonably warm temperatures," said Dr. Clifford Bassett, medical director of Allergy and Asthma Care of NY.  "That really primes the pump for what we're seeing now."

Bassett said the phone has been "ringing off the hook" with patients suffering from allergies due to the unseasonably warm temperatures.  He said allergy season started about 14 days early because of the weather and will likely run about a month longer than usual this year.  Trees pollinate earlier after mild winters, and if spring fluctuates between warm and cold spells, there will be intense periods of pollen release during the warm times, and overall plants will grow and release more pollen than usual.

For those who live in bed bug-happy areas like New York, experts warned that the invasive critters may be in full effect a lot earlier this year.

Timothy Wong, technical director of M & M Pest Control in New York City, said business gets "out of control" in the summer because eggs hatch more quickly in warmer weather.  In colder temperatures, eggs take between seven and 14 days to hatch, but in the warmth, they hatch in six to 10 days, Wong said.

Once the temperature hits 65 degrees outdoors, everything changes, Wong said.

Bed bugs might not be the only insect terror to hit an early upswing.  Experts say there may be an early surge of ticks, and in turn, Lyme disease, because of the warm weather.

"Ticks ... are fussy, and high heat, high humidity or cold can dampen, but they are very local in that density of ticks can vary merely hundred yards apart in a given region," Dr. Paul Auwaerter, clinical director of infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins Medical Institute, wrote in an email.

As the weather continues to warm, Auwaerter suggested that people who spend time outdoors should be "on the watch for ticks at this time and do careful inspection, use DEET if in the bushes/woods, wear long pants/shirts."

"Warmer weather certainly means an earlier start to the tick season, and I have had patients bringing in ticks as early as the last week of February this year," Auwaerter said.  "Whether this translates into more cases of tick-borne infections is unclear."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Heart Attack Risk May Increase in Cold Temperatures

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.) -- Frigid temperatures can be a trigger for some coronary problems, which could explain why fatal heart attacks typically peak during winter months, according to a new study.  

Researchers at the Pennsylvania State College of Medicine found that breathing cold air during physical activity can increase the body's need for oxygen. The increased need for oxygen could be troublesome for people with heart disease since the risk for cardiac arrest and death is greater, the researchers report in the study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology and The American Journal of Physiology, Heart and Circulatory Physiology.

During the trial, researchers studied the lung and heart function of healthy adults in their 20s and 60s, while exposing them to cold temperatures. The researchers found that since their hearts were healthy, the participants were able to keep up with the changes in the demands for oxygen being supplied to the heart.  For those with heart disease, the increased demands may be too much.

Bottom line, heart disease patients may want to be more cautious during cold weather exercise.

Copyright 2012 ABC News


Baby Born in Stuck Elevator after Snowstorm Delays Hospital Arrival

File photo. (Photodisc/Thinkstock)(TACOMA, Wash.) -- A newborn baby boy in Washington State can already lay claim to having survived two unexpected disasters: one of the worst winter storms to ever hit Washington State, and being delivered in a hospital service elevator.

The harrowing series of events surrounding the arrival of Blake Michael Thacker had a happy ending: he came into the world at the St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, around 5:45 Wednesday morning.

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It began with his parents, Katie and Luke Thacker, leaving their home in nearby Graham hours before when Katie started to go into labor with her second child.

The couple’s drive to St. Joseph took twice as long as usual because of the snowy and icy conditions created by the winter storm that unexpectedly walloped the state this week, local ABC affiliate KOMO reports.

By the time the Thackers managed to pull into the parking lot of the hospital’s emergency room, Katie was ready to push, so hospital staff rushed her into a service elevator to whisk her to the maternity ward on the 14th floor.

The group, now comprising the Thackers, four nurses and Katie’s mother and sister, rode the elevator to the 12th floor where they had to switch elevators to continue on to their 14th floor destination.

Luke, Katie’s mom and sister and one nurse stepped out, only to watch the elevator’s doors close, leaving Katie and the three remaining nurses trapped inside the elevator and now stuck between floors.

While hospital staff called emergency crews to rescue them, Katie and the nurses proceeded as Mother Nature demanded, delivering Blake inside the elevator.  He was a healthy 7 pounds 15 ounces, and 21.5 inches long.

According to KOMO, the elevator remained stuck for about two hours before two technicians could pry the doors open.

Luke reportedly stayed in touch with Katie during the delivery via walkie-talkie, before climbing down to cut the umbilical cord of his newborn son.

Mom, nurses and baby all made it out of the elevator safely and unharmed, and with a good story to tell.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


How to Survive If Your Car Gets Stuck in Snow

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- David Higgins, his wife, Yvonne, and their 5-year-old daughter, Hannah, are recovering at Miners Colfax Medical Center in Raton, N.M., after they were trapped in their GMC Yukon beneath four feet of snow for nearly two days.

Rescuers found the family lethargic and holding on to one another early Wednesday. Fortunately, the Higginses, who were heading to northern New Mexico for a ski trip, had plenty of food and water, and could use their cellphone to call for help.

Would you know what to do if your car became stranded in snow? ABC News spoke with outdoor survival expert Brian Brawdy; here is his advice:

How to Be Prepared:

1. Always drive with at least three-fourths of a tank of gas during the winter months. In an emergency, you will need as much gas as possible.

2. Pack a fleece blanket, emergency food and a first aid kit in the interior of your car. In an emergency the trunk might not be accessible, and fleece is one of the few pieces of material that retains its ability to provide warmth if it gets wet.

3. Have a container in the car that is capable of holding snow. In an emergency it may be necessary to collect snow in order to hydrate.

4. Replace all the interior light bulbs with LED bulbs. LED bulbs use about one-twelfth of the energy of an incandescent bulb and cost less than a tank of gas. In an emergency, conserving the car battery is extremely important, and the LED bulbs make a big difference.

What to Do If You’re Stranded:

1. Don’t panic and don’t rely on your technology. Survival is never about technology and always about temperament. In many cases cellphones and GPS devices may have been disabled by the accident or will not have service. However, if they are functional, they should be used immediately.

2. Always stay in your vehicle. If people are coming to look for you there is a better chance they will see a car than a person. You will also be able to survive for longer in your vehicle than in the elements. There are only two circumstances in which you should leave the vehicle. The first is if you are familiar with the surroundings and are certain it would be easy to walk to safety. The second is an option of last resort in which you believe you have absolutely no chance of surviving unless you try to walk to safety.

3. Keep your seat belt on. In winter conditions it is likely that other drivers may slide into your vehicle after it has become stuck.

4. Crack the back window slightly. Oftentimes the tail pipe is obstructed by snow, which can cause deadly carbon monoxide fumes to get into the vehicle when the engine is running.

5. Run the engine for 10 to 15 minutes every hour. This will allow you to heat the car, melt snow into water and even warm a meal if you have packs of survival food. It will also conserve gas and prolong the life of both the engine and the battery. In an emergency, the vehicle is your lifeboat, and you want it to be functional for as long as possible.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tips for Keeping Student-Athletes Safe from Heat Illnesses

BananaStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- The grueling summer heat wave is taking a toll on people, crops and livestock as it blankets the center of the country, and perhaps nobody is exposed to the ravaging heat more than student athletes training for the fall season, practicing hours a day in triple digit temperatures.

"The youngsters and the elderly are the two populations most affected by the heat," said Dr. Wally Ghurabi, the medical director of the UCLA Emergency Center in Santa Monica, Calif.

"In the case of the youngsters, their systems are not as well developed, and the mechanism that the body uses to lower the temperature is hindered by the environmental factors such as the extreme heat, humidity and exercise."

The first level of heat-related illness is heat cramps, during which muscles begin cramping. Next on the continuum would be heat exhaustion, in which the athlete begins to feel fatigued, dizzy and nauseous with potential vomiting. Finally, the mother of all heat related illnesses is heat stroke, in which a person becomes unconscious or delirious and has seizures.

"At this point, the core body temperature is above 106 degrees," said Dr. Ghurabi. "The temperature lowering medication will not work anymore because the thalamus, the part of the brain that controls the body temperature, is malfunctioning."

The normal core body temperature is 98.6 degrees.

With a month of triple digit temperatures forecast in many areas, Rebecca Stearns, the Director of Education for the Korey Stringer Institute, offers advice for student athletes, coaches and parents to keep players safe.

The institute, founded in memory of Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Korey Stringer, who died from exertional heat stroke in 2001 is dedicated to preventing heat-related illnesses through communication prevention and treatment techniques.

Tips for avoiding heat-related incidents:

  • Ensure athletes have extra rest breaks and longer breaks.
  • Ensure athletes are acclimatized to the heat. "When the environment is different from what you are used to exercising in, that is when you have to be careful," said Stearns. Extra caution is especially important during the first 3 to 5 days of practice in the heat or preseason, when most incidents will occur.
  • Reduce the intensity of exercise until your body is used to the heat.
  • Arrive at each practice hydrated, and drink when you can.
  • Educate coaches and athletes about heat-related illness and proper hydration.
  • Reduce the amount of equipment and clothing worn by the athlete.
  • Back off on your intensity if you can.
  • Have practice in the coolest part of the day.
  • Speak up if you do not feel well. If you feel that your body is trying to tell you something, let someone know immediately. If a player or another athlete is struggling more than usual, don't be afraid to say something to ask them.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Heat Safety Tips for the Summer Heat Wave

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As record temperatures continue to bake the country's midsection, heat-related hospital visits are on the rise.

Excessive heat warnings are in effect for a large swath of central United States, according to the National Weather Service.  And the scorching temperatures are expected to linger for the next couple weeks.

Central air conditioning and portable air conditioners can get expensive, so what can you do to avoid the heat?  Can you recognize the signs of heat exhaustion?  And would you know what to do if someone started to show symptoms of it?

Dr. William P. Bozeman, an associate professor of emergency medicine and the emergency services director at Wake Forest University, shared some tips with ABC News that will help you keep cool and recognize the signs of heat overexposure, and the steps to take if you experience those symptoms or see them in someone else.

Bozeman cautioned that it is important to be aware of the temperature. Temps in the 90s and higher are dangerous, and become more dangerous the higher they go and the longer they last.  The very young and the very old are at the highest risk, as their weight and age can impair their ability to handle high temperatures.

11 Tips for Staying Cool This Summer

1. Be aware of the heat.
2. Pay attention to your hydration status and be sure to drink plenty of fluids.
3. Try to stay in relatively cool areas, even when outside.
4. Avoid hot, enclosed places, such as cars.
5. Use a fan, if available.
6. Stay on the lowest floor of your building.
7. Eat well-balanced, light and regular meals.
8. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight and light-colored clothing.
9. Cover windows that receive a significant amount of sun.
10. Weather stripping and proper insulation will keep cool air inside your home.
11. Cool beverages are good for cooling down the body, while alcoholic drinks can impair the body's ability to regulate its temperature.

8 Signs of Heat Overexposure

1. Heavy sweating -- though if heat stroke sets in, the body can no longer compensate and stops sweating.
2. Pale skin.
3. Muscle cramps.
4. Feeling tired and weak.
5. Altered mental status (confusion or disorientation).
6. Headache.
7. Becoming semi-conscious or passing out.
8. Nausea or vomiting.

6 First Steps to Take After Recognizing Heat-Induced Illness

1. Call 911.
2. Get the person out of the sun and into a cool area.
3. Apply water to help the person cool off.
4. Apply ice to the neck or armpits, where large blood vessels are close to the surface.
5. Remove any heavy clothing.
6. Immerse the body in cool water, either at a swimming pool or in a bathtub.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio