A fierce Pacific storm triggered by atmospheric rivers—moisture streams in the sky—will bring heavy rain and damaging winds to large areas of California, following weeks of intense snow storms in the state. The National Weather Service has declared a flash flooding emergency amid excessive rainfall for at least one county, in addition to excessive rainfall alerts, flood watches, and high-wind advisories for other parts of the state.
Atmospheric rivers, known as “rivers in the sky,” carry the amount of water vapor roughly equivalent to the average flow of water at the mouth of the Mississippi River, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Once they reach landfall, these rivers can have devastating effects as they may induce mudslides, heavy wind, and floods—leaving catastrophic damage to life and property.
Parts of California have already been hit with snowstorms this winter, leaving residents stranded and an avalanche in its wake. For the recent storm surge, the National Weather Service alerted that there could be significant avalanche danger in places above 5,000 feet.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides safety guidance with tip sheets and resources for flash flooding, avalanche, and winter storms.
A number of standards developing organizations support both preparedness and emergency response.
The Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions (ATIS), a member and accredited standards developer of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), published the American National Standard (ANS) ATIS-1000061.2015, LTE Access Class 14 for National Security and Emergency Preparedness (NS/EP) Communication, which supports the technology that allows first responders and emergency managers priority voice, data, and video communications during emergencies and widespread outages.
For alerts, the Consumer Technology Association published the ANS CTA 2009-B-2010 (R 2016) (ANSI), Performance Specification for Public Alert Receivers, which defines the minimum performance for consumer electronic products that receive emergency weather alerts through the Specific Area Message Encoding protocol (SAME) alert signals broadcast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Weather Radio network and Environment Canada’s Meteorological Services of Canada Radio network. The Consumer Technology Association is an ANSI member and accredited standards developer.
In the case of emergency evacuations, ISO 22578:2022, Graphical symbols - Safety colours and safety signs - Natural disaster safety way guidance system, specifies the principles governing the design and application of signs and plans used to create a natural disaster safety way guidance system to help people evacuate to safe areas or places of refuge in case of natural disasters (e.g. tsunamis, floods, debris flows, steep slope failures, landslides, tornados, large-scale fires, and active volcanoes). The standard was developed by International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 145, Graphical symbols, Subcommittee (SC) 2, Safety identification, signs, shapes, symbols and colours. NEMA, an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, administers the ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Groups (TAGs) to this TC and SC.
For winter storm clean up, SAE International has published a number of standards for snow plows and hitches, snow mobiles, and the standard SAE ARP 5548-2014 (SAE ARP5548-2014) Multi-Tasking Equipment (MTE) for Airfield Snow Removal High Speed, Multi-Tasking Snow Removal Unit to include Carrier Vehicle, Snow Plow, Rotary Broom High Velocity Air Blast, which covers requirements for Multi-Tasking Equipment (MTE) for airfield snow removal purposes. SAE is an ANSI member and accredited-standards developer.
ANSI member and audited designator the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) developed the standard NFPA 1660-2024, Standard for Emergency, Continuity, and Crisis Management: Preparedness, Response, and Recovery, which establishes a common set of requirements for emergency management and business continuity programs; mass evacuation, sheltering, and re-entry programs; and the development of pre-incident plans for emergency response personnel.
In addition, NFPA also offers fire safety during winter storm tips.
Read a related article: From Bomb Cyclones to Snowmageddons, Standards Help Us Gear Up for Weather Extremes.