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EDM Wednesday Briefing: Post-Flooding Cleanup Begins in Europe

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for July 21, 2021: The USGS reported a large swarm of more than 300 earthquakes beneath Yellowstone Lake; the Bootleg Fire created its own potentially threatening fire weather; packaged lettuce was recalled due to its potential contamination with salmonella; the Glen Canyon Dam is at risk of not being able to produce electricity; smoke from Western wildfires impacts Eastern cities in the U.S. and Canada; the NHC is watching a broad trough of low pressure moving off the Southeastern United States; at least 12 people died after floodwaters inundated an underground subway station in China; and the recent flooding in Germany and other parts of Europe could be the region’s worst disaster in 50 years.

1. A large swarm of earthquakes rattled Yellowstone National Park beginning on Thursday evening last week. Many of the more than 300 quakes registered at least magnitude 2.0 and higher, with the U.S. Geological Survey recording at least 4 of magnitude 3.0+. The quakes were centered beneath Yellowstone Lake, and according to the USGS, were caused by hydrothermal fluids interacting with existing faults, a common occurrence.

2. The Bootleg Fire burning in Oregon has scorched more than 394,400 acres and is now creating its own weather. The fire has generated a pyrocumulonimbus cloud that has reached nearly 30,000 feet, bringing the threats of fire tornadoes, hail, lightning, and gusty winds. Fire weather is generated by large, intense wildfires as they pull moisture from vegetation, and the weather then often intensifies fire conditions.

3. Packaged lettuce sold at major retailers is now being recalled due to concerns of possible salmonella contamination. BrightFarms issued a voluntary recall for its packaged salad greens that were distributed to retailers in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin. The lettuce was grown at the company’s indoor farm in Rochelle, Illinois, and it was distributed to at least 10 different retailers including Jewel-Osco, Metro Market, and select Walmart stores.

4. Amid an ongoing drought in the West, Lake Powell is now at historic lows, which prompted a release of water from the Flaming Gorge reservoir. The water is desperately needed to ensure the continued operation of the turbines at Glen Canyon Dam for electrical generation. A seven-state agreement to share the resources of the Colorado River prohibits water being held back behind Glen Canyon, and the continued releases have dropped the water reservoir to its now critical levels, requiring the water from Flaming Gorge.

5. Eastern cities in the United States and Canada are being affected by smoke from wildfires across the West. On Tuesday, the National Weather Service (NWS) released satellite images of smoke drifting across New York and the tri-state area. Hazy skies were also observed in Southern Ontario, including in Toronto, and the smoke was expected to impact air quality in Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.

6. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) is watching a broad trough of low pressure that is set to move off the southeastern United States. Marginally conducive conditions exist within the environment for the system to develop into a tropical system. According to the NHC, the system has about a 20% chance of development over the next five days.

7. Torrential rainfall has led to historic flooding in China, especially in Zhengzhou, where a flooded subway killed at least a dozen people. Floodwaters inundated an underground station, flooding a carriage and trapping hundreds amid chest-high water. Authorities noted that at least 500 people had to be rescued from the raging floodwaters rolling through the underground subway station, located in central Henan province.

8. The death toll from the recent catastrophic flooding in Germany has reached more than 150, with hundreds of people still reported missing across Europe. Cleanup has barely begun, but officials say the cost is likely to exceed several billion euros. Millions of euros in aid have already been pledged to help rebuild roads, bridges and other critical infrastructure as quickly as possible. Western Germany appeared to be the hardest hit, but impacts were felt in Belgium, parts of the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Switzerland.

Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.

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