Sunday, January 24, 2016

Flashback: Midwest Blizzards -- January 24, 2016


January 26, 2016: AFP is reporting:
The storm, which affected some 85 million people, was blamed for at least 33 deaths as it slammed much of the US east coast from Friday into early Sunday.
I assume motor vehicle deaths (especially due to drunk driving) and homicides were way down. Overall, my hunch is that the storm prevented more deaths than it caused.

January 25, 2016: just before going to bed last night, a last-minute look at the news -- 29 deaths "blamed on snowstorm Jonas," most car accidents and folks shoveling snow. Some data points:
  • the storm affected, according to various sources, 50 million people, 75 million people, or even as many as 85 million people
  • US population is 350 million 
  • 80/350 = 23%
  • annual motor vehicle deaths = 33,000 (wiki); daily 33,000 / 365 x 2-day storm = 180 expected motor vehicle deaths across the US x 23% = 40 motor vehicle deaths predicted 
  • 29 deaths "blamed on snowstorm Jonas" -- half motor vehicle deaths, half other (shoveling snow, hypothermia, drowning, etc)
  • annual deaths in the US: 2.6 million /365 days = 7,000 deaths * 2 days = 14,000 deaths x 23% = 3,000 deaths expected over two days in a US population of 85 million 
  • homicide deaths were most likely down significantly
It helps me to put things into perspective. Disclaimer: I often make simple arithmetic errors. Do not make any life insurance or annuity decisions based on this data. If this is important to you, which I'm pretty sure it isn't, go to the source.

Original Post
This is not ready for prime time, and I will probably regret posting it but I'm reading the biography of Ayn Rand and it helps put things into perspective.

Time Magazine reported two year ago:
Freak Blizzard Kills Tens of Thousands of South Dakota Cattle—and Washington Does Nothing. An unexpectedly early winter storm buried cattle ranchers in South Dakota.
And no executive order from President Obama to assist these South Dakota ranchers.
They're trying to rebuild, but the shutdown in DC and the lack of a farm bill holds them back.

What has happened to the ranchers of South Dakota this month goes beyond the bad luck ranchers know might always be in the cards.
A massive and unexpectedly early blizzard rocked western South Dakota from Oct. 3 to 5, pummeling parts of the state with up to 4 ft. of snow.
Ranching is one of the biggest industries in South Dakota, home to some 15,000 beef farms and 3.85 million head of cattle, and the cattle were not ready for the early storm. Beef cows and calves—which hadn’t yet developed the heavy coats that see them through the cold winters of the northern Plains—were soaked first by freezing rain and then buried in the snow. Tens of thousands of cattle suffocated or froze to death. Days later, the bodies of dead cattle are still being buried or burnt.
The South Dakota Stock Growers Association estimated that 15 to 20% of all cattle were killed in parts of the state, with some ranchers losing more than half of their herds. “Families are traumatized,” Sylvia Christen, the executive director of the group, told Reuters. “These animals depended on them, and they couldn’t help.”
And thanks to the ongoing government shutdown, the ranchers haven’t gotten much help either.
Last month in Texas, as reported by Breitbart:
The Texas blizzard “Goliath” may have claimed more than 30,000 animals this week in Texas.

A statement obtained by Breitbart Texas from the Texas Association of Dairymen (TAD) says that the winter storm named Goliath “hit hard at the heart of the Texas dairy industry.”

The reduction in the state’s milk supply, and dairy and other financial losses, as well as the emotional impact on farmers of losing their animals, is enormous, says TAD Executive Director Darren Turley.

Turley said it wasn’t until Tuesday that many dairy producers in the area largely impacted by the storms – from Lubbock west to Muleshoe, Texas, and north to Friona – could gauge the impact by surveying their property.

Turley says that the region includes half of the state’s top ten milk producing counties which amounts to about 36 percent of the Lone Star state’s dairy cows – an estimated 142,800 cows. Turley estimates that about five percent of the mature dairy cows, and a yet-undetermined heifers and calves were killed. He expects losses to climb as farmers are able to survey the damage.
Both stories barely reported, hardly remembered.

Yes, 19 deaths -- maybe more in the northeast -- but 70 million people in the snow-affected area (19/70 million = 0.00003%) -- but in the big scheme of things -- and I know I will get a lot of flack for such unsympathetic remarks -- but in the big scheme of things, it appears that much of what happened this past weekend will be nothing more than a minor inconvenience for most. But we will hear about it "forever."

But some days, it seems, I have more sympathy / empathy for cattle and their handlers than for our leaders in Washington, DC.

There are other lessons learned here, but enough for now. I probably have my priorities misplaced.

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