Hurricane Irma aftermath: Don't have internet, cable or cell service? Here's why

Published: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 7:57 AM

When Power Goes Out, Who Gets It Back First

Wi-Fi and cellphone coverage remain spotty throughout South Florida and other locations along Hurricane Irma's path. There’s a simple reason: Like everyone else, the companies that provide it don’t have power, thanks to the storm.

Cell towers across Florida have been cut off from the power grid and are relying on generators to keep going, spokespeople for two of the four major wireless carriers said.

>> On PalmBeachPost.com: FPL begins full-scale post-Irma restoration, rebuild

“The faster the power comes back on, the faster all telecommunication services can get back on,” a T-Mobile spokeswoman said Tuesday. “The power outages are just everywhere. It’s definitely causing a lot of effect across the board.”

For Comcast, the main provider of Wi-Fi in Palm Beach County, it’s a similar story.

>> On PalmBeachPost.com: PHOTOS: Hurricane Irma and aftermath

“Many of our facilities in Palm Beach County, and virtually all of them in Broward County and further south in Miami-Dade, are functioning on generators due to the complete loss of commercial power,” Comcast spokeswoman Mindy Kramer said.

Physical damage to cell towers doesn’t appear to be an issue. Towers are meant to withstand high winds.

>> More Irma coverage from WFTVAction News Jax and the Palm Beach Post

“It’s really rare to see a tower topple over,” said Roni Singleton, a Sprint spokeswoman for Florida.

But because of the power outages, the lack of coverage right now is worse in South Florida, and — bizarrely — much worse than Houston recently experienced despite that city’s massive flooding from Hurricane Harvey.

>> Hurricane Irma damage: How to stay safe from tree, water damage in your home

“There was really very little loss of mobile service in Houston, across all carriers,” the T-Mobile spokeswoman said. “Houston was able to maintain power the entire time.”

Cell towers are required to have batteries that provide eight to 12 hours of power for first responders, the T-Mobile spokeswoman said. After that, they rely on generators for power. But fallen trees and debris have made it difficult to refuel some of the generators, she said.

>> How to keep your kids entertained and your sanity when trapped at home by severe weather

Verizon said close to 90 percent of its facilities were working, with many running on backup generators.

“Massive refueling operations are underway to ensure those sites without commercial power continue in service for our customers and first responders,” the company said in a statement.

>> Hurricane Irma aftermath: Power may be out for days, over a week for some in Georgia

Sprint and Comcast said they’re sending satellite trucks and mobile platforms to South Florida to provide temporary coverage until power returns. AT&T said it was sending portable cell sites to the Keys, Miami and Tallahassee.

>> Read more trending news

None of the companies would give a time frame for when full coverage would return, but T-Mobile and Sprint said coverage was getting better by the hour.

“I think by [Wednesday], we’ll see a huge improvement in the number of sites that are back up,” Singleton said. 

How To Use The Internet When You Don't Have Access To The Internet

This is why you should seriously never eat snow

Published: Friday, January 22, 2016 @ 3:06 PM
Updated: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 9:27 AM

Never Eat Snow - Here's Why

 

Don’t eat the snow! A study, published in 2016, claimed that eating snow is potentially dangerous, particularly in urban areas.

Dr. Parisa Ariya, a professor at McGill University in Canada, told The Huffington Post that snow in cities can absorb toxic and carcinogenic pollutants and that the snow itself combining with those pollutants can lead to even more dangerous compounds being released.

>> Read more trending stories

"Snowflakes are ice particles with various types of surfaces, including several active sites, that can absorb various gaseous or particulate pollutants," she said.

Ariya, who led the study, said she did not "wish to be alarmist," but "as a mother who is an atmospheric physical chemist, I definitely do not suggest my young kids eat snow in urban areas in general."

The study examined how snow interacts with pollutants from car exhaust in the air. Findings showed that snow pulled pollutants like benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene and xylenes from the air. The amount of pollutants concentrated in the snow increased dramatically.

"Without considering snow and ice, one will not be able to properly evaluate the effect of exhaust emission, and subsequently health and climate impacts, for the cities which receive snow," Ariya said. "Further research is recommended to address various aspects of such experiments under various environmental conditions, for adequate implementation in future modeling."

'Cold-stunned' sea turtles suffering from hypothermia amid frigid temperatures

Published: Sunday, January 07, 2018 @ 8:37 AM

File photo
Uriel Sinai/Getty Images
File photo(Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

Have you noticed it’s cold?

>> Frozen Florida iguanas cold-stunned, but probably not dead

The recent freezing weather across most of the country has wreaked havoc on wildlife, including sea turtles along Texas' Gulf Coast. According to Texas Monthly, the turtles have been suffering from hypothermia, leading them to float near the surface of the water and putting them in danger of being eaten by predators or hit by boats.

>> Nor'easter leaves cars frozen, flooded after icy waters fill high school parking lot

The good news, though, is that emergency crews are helping nurse the turtles back to healthAccording to the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, as of Tuesday afternoon, rescue crews had found 41 “cold-stunned” sea turtles in the water along the coast.

>> Read more trending news 

In December, the Texas State Aquarium took in more than 100 hypothermia-stricken turtles to rehabilitate them.

Iguanas Are Probably Not Dead, But Cold-Stunned

Related

Weather vs. climate: Why a cold winter doesn't refute climate change

Published: Thursday, January 04, 2018 @ 7:49 AM

What Is A Nor'easter?

Call it fortuitous timing. Hours before U.S. President Donald Trump issued a tweet last week panning climate change, a University of Georgia climatologist offered a lengthy pre-emptive explanation.

>> ‘Bombogenesis': What is it and why is everyone saying it?

“What we are seeing right now in the United States is just … well … wait for it … winter,” wrote Marshall Shepherd, director of the atmospheric science program at the University of Georgia and a former president of the American Meteorological Society.

>> What is a Nor’easter and how does it form?

Shepherd wrote that he would urge people to keep in mind that “weather is mood, climate is personality” and that weekly weather patterns say little about longer-term climate change.

>> Trump tweets ‘good old Global Warming’ could help with frigid temps

It came about 12 hours before Trump tweeted that forecasts were calling for record cold New Year’s Eve temperatures.

>> See the tweet here

Shepherd wrote that even as climate warms, the seasons will always change to winter and yield frigid weather, snowstorms and blizzards. After all, he said, winter is related to how the Earth is tilted on its axis as it revolves around the sun.

>> Read more trending news 

Concludes Shepherd: "For now, the message for this week and the next seven days is that winter is reminding us that it still exists and always will even as our climate warms. Prepare accordingly, stay warm and help others."

How to keep your kids entertained when stuck at home by severe weather

Published: Friday, December 08, 2017 @ 5:19 PM

How To Entertain Your Kids When You're Trapped By Weather

When severe weather keeps you inside your home with your children, there are things you can do to keep kids entertained while you keep your sanity.

>> Read more trending news

If you're home for the day, or a few days, here are a few things you can do to stay entertained without going crazy or running up your data plans.

If you still have power:

Do some family-friendly baking:

One way to keep kids occupied is with a slew of simple cooking tasks (cracking eggs, manning the mixing bowl) and the promise of sweets.

Cooking Light has a roundup of “kid-friendly desserts,” including gluten-free s'more bars, chewy caramel apple cookies and more. If you run through that list, the Food Network has another.

And not having kids is no reason not to bake in bad weather: for company, just sub in the closet available roommates, family, friends or pets. (This advice applies to the rest of the list.)

Check out these party games:

Jackbox's Drawful is a bizarre twist on Pictionary: players score points not just for drawing the best possible version of, say, "angry ants"; but also for getting other players to guess their answer for a given drawing instead of the correct one.

Drawful comes packaged as part of the Jackbox Party Pack and is available to buy and download here, and is compatible with the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Amazon Fire TV and others. All you need to play is a phone, tablet or controller. 

But if you're feeling more competitive and less artistic, consider QuizUp. Available for both iPhone and Android. This competitive trivia app pits two players against each other in seven rounds of questions in one of several hundred different categories, including pop culture and academia. And it's free. 

Get crafty:

Create a crafting area in your home. Fill it with crafting materials like tape, paper and boxes. When inspiration strikes your child, they can create fun things in their own “workshop.”

Power outages are common during severe weather because high winds can knock trees into electrical lines, causing blackouts.(Gordon Donovan/Getty Images)

Without power:

Get clever:

When the house goes dark, kids’ imaginations light up. A trip to the bathroom with a flashlight can become an adventure, and reading stories by candlelight will stick with them more than just another movie night. 

Get ahead of a power outage:

Stock up on glow sticks. Kids can really have fun with these simple light sticks. Once you crack them, they provide a bright light for up to 12 hours and a dim light for as long as 36 hours. They come in all kinds of shapes, sizes and colors, and can provide hours of fun for children.

Build a fort:

Kids love building forts just for fun anyway. So if you find yourself in the dark without power, gather up pillows and blankets, and plan on moving some furniture around to help your little ones build the perfect fortress. You can even make it more like an adventure. Plan to snuggle in for the night, and maybe tell a few ghost stories, too.