My Dissertation Research Diary:Extreme weather starts 2019

Last Updated: 25/02/2019, 06:00:00 (Weather Underground 2019).

Inside this edition

With 2019 well on the way, a number of environmental stories have made headlines in the news from both sides of the equator in my Area of Practice (AoP): Disaster Management. In this installment of my Dissertation Research Diary, I comment on the extremely cold weather landing on the USA, we also look at the collapse of the dam in Brazil and the freak tornado that left 4 people dead in Cuba, and threats of cyclones and typhoons in the Pacific and Oceania,

Community of Practice (CoP)

One of the benefits of keeping abreast with stories of natural and man-made disasters in other countries is that, it continues to build on our stock of experiences, even if it is experiences second-hand through the media. Even as I admit, I am neophyte to disaster management and response, I have found that the applications of systems thinking with technology management studied at the Open University has enabled me to have a much more enhanced interpretation of the issues before me.

Two of the concepts taught in systems thinking, are the concepts of Communities of practice and social learning. Community of Practice refers to the collective experience of actors within a particularly doman. In this case-Disaster Management. Social learning on the other hand, deals with the deliberate codifying of those collective experiences so that the capabilities of the actors may be strengthened through the assimilation of emerging, new trends in thinking about disasters and news generated therefrom.


Mud splurge, Frostbite, heat waves, tornados and meteorites

“Super typhoon Wutip was the strongest February typhoon in our region in recorded history,” – Meteorologist, Chip Guard (Post, K 2019)

When one follows such stories as the collapse of the Brazil dam, unprecedented, record-breaking, freezing weather in the North America occasioned by a polar vortex , while down under, Australia also sees record-breaking heat temperatures in the on-going heatwave.

Meanwhile without warning, Havana, Cuba is is torn asunder by a freak tornado, to be followed by a meteorite exploding over the western cuba spewing meteorite rocks in neighborhoods.

If you have been a follower of my blog, or a follower of my Facebook page, you would have realised that my perspectives on the environment, recovery and resilience have been from a CAribbean perspective. Especially in Dominica, if there is an emergency there. I keep an eye on what is happening in the region, as well in the international arena.

I have found that from following these stories, one gains great insights as well as being introduced to the main actors in those jurisdictions. It opens doors with meteorologist and journalists and non-government organisations who frequently cover environment stories and I follow their Facebook pages.

Literature review

A selection from some of the literature to be used in my secondary research

This week, I officially started the writing of my literature review of publications, research and conference papers as well as articles and news reports of disasters, manmade and natural, that will form part of my secondary research for my dissertation.

I can see why someone, who is concerned about the environment would choose the disaster management sector as a career option. As for me, I instantly recognised where my postgraduate studies fitted in with what was happening during the 2017 hurricane season, followed by the 2018 hurricane season that saw Hurricane Michael devastate large parts of Florida’s Panhandle ( 2019) while Hurricane Florence was responsible for catastrophic flooding in Georgia (WSBTV 2018) Typhoon Yutu a Category 5 typhoon was the “worst storm to hit any part of U.S. since 1935” left swathes of Saipan and Tinian in the Northern Marianas devastated last October.

Record-breaking 8 weeks

With only 56 days into 2019, we have seen record-breaking, temperature lows in the USA, England and Europe, which has seen Las Vegas and Hawaii seeing snow for the first time. Australia this year, has also been on the receiving end of some extreme weather, in quick succession. First, mid-January, the country saw temperatures rise beating a 20-year- record of 40.C (140 F). The heat wave has been blamed for the deaths of thousands of livestock and wildlife (The Scientist Magazine 2019). Meanwhile in February, Townsville, Queensland saw catastrophic flooding, forcing authorities to open the flood gates of the Ross River Dam. authorities say, 300, 000 heads of cattle perished (Smee, B.2019). Then came Tropical Cyclone Oma. According to broadcaster, was the first time in 30 years that a cyclone had come this close to Australia (ABC News 2019)

Super Typhoon Wutip
Last Updated: 2/25/2019, 6:00:00 AM (Greenwich Mean Time)

Meanwhile, Super Typhoon Wutip, as we speak, is heading towards the Philippines Area of Responsibility (AoR) after narrowly missing the US territories of Guam and Northern Marianas, prompting meteorologist, Chip Guard of the National Weather Service warning coordination, that “Super typhoon Wutip was the strongest, February, typhoon in our region in recorded history,” (Post, K 2019)



Walton, G. (2019). Buckle up, folks: Just 840 hours into 2019 and we have had record heat, record cold, record snowfall and record rain along with a few plagues. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Feb. 2019].

YouTube. (2019). NewsThurs24thJan2k19. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 Feb. 2019].

The Scientist Magazine®. (2019). Thousands of Australian Animals Die in Unprecedented Heatwave. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Feb. 2019].

Smee, B. (2019). Townsville flood inquiry announced, as up to 300,000 cattle die in western Queensland. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 25 Feb. 2019].

ABC News. (2019). Oma is not the first cyclone to threaten Brisbane. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Feb. 2019].

Post, K. (2019). Guam spared brunt of Wutip. [online] The Guam Daily Post. Available at: [Accessed 25 Feb. 2019].

Weather Underground. (2019). Hurricane and Tropical Cyclone Activity. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Feb. 2019]. (2019). [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Feb. 2019].

WSBTV. (2018). HURRICANE FLORENCE IMPACT IN GEORGIA: Hurricane Florence weakens to Category 1 storm hours before landfall. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Feb. 2019]. (2019). Oceania. [online] Available at: [Accessed 25 Feb. 2019].




1 Comment

  1. Ras Albert ( Hon Natty Dread ), Excellent Research. I say that not only being your wifey, fellow colleague and number one supporter; but because of the Current Climate Changes Catastrophic Disasters Globally. It is natural to embrace one’s own Culture of familiarity but in today’s society there are paid and extreme unexpected conditions that can only be learned by deeply infiltrating your research in analysis of all systemic and forward quick thinking. Review and documenting every moment possible and attachments every level is a key phenomenon. You, Sir are doing just that. I applaud Your Works! Wifey Tempie Williams


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