Climate Impact Report – 01/05

Quick Facts


in Virginia reopened Tuesday night after a winter storm stranded some drivers for more than 24 hours

Warm December

Nearly every state in the U.S. is projected to have its hottest recorded December ever

991 homes

Among the 991 homes destroyed in the Marshall Fire, there are others still standing, but many have smoke damage

Key Facts Of The Day 1/5

Storms and Flooding

  • Metro Detroit under high wind advisory as a winter storm that is expected to bring blizzard conditions and up to a foot of snow heads to west Michigan.

    • The weather service said the winds could blow around unsecured objects and are expected to be strong enough to bring down tree limbs and cause power outages.

    • Forecasters Tuesday night were projecting snowfall totals of 9 to 12 inches in Muskegon, 8 to 12 inches in Ludington and 6 to 9 inches in Grand Rapids.

    • The weather service said the snow combined with high winds are expected to create near blizzard conditions with whiteouts across the lakeshore.

    • Winds will gust to 40-45 MPH with visibility near zero at times.

  • I-95 in Virginia reopened Tuesday night after a winter storm stranded some drivers for more than 24 hours.

    • A Monday storm dumped more than a foot of snow in the area and not only stranded highway travelers overnight, but also snarled traffic on other roads and halted an Amtrak passenger train for more than 30 hours.

    • Drivers described turning their engines on for a time to heat up, turning them off to conserve fuel, and sharing food and supplies with one another as crews tried to clear trucks blocking the way.

    • One trucker was handing out bottles of water and one bread delivery truck opened its doors and people handed out loaves.

    • Many secondary roads in the region were blocked by downed trees or wintry conditions, so even those able to get off I-95 faced difficult travels.

    • At one point, the storm left more than 400,000 customers in the mid-Atlantic and Southeast without power.

  • Cleanup underway after more than a foot of snow fell at the Jersey Shore in New Jersey.

    • In Ocean City, the roof of GG’s Diamond Cleaners collapsed in the 600 block of Asbury Avenue.

    • Ocean City recorded the highest snow total for the region, with 14 inches of snow.

    • Shore towns also surveyed for beach erosion on Tuesday.

  • Several areas of southern Kentucky are still cleaning up and recovering after Saturday’s severe storms and flash flooding.

    • Breathitt County has several dozen families stranded due to their road washing out. The community still isn’t even fully recovered from the March 2021 floods.

    • Flash flooding caused mudslides and swept away culverts and bridges that were the only way in or out of several valley area communities.


  • As of Monday, there are currently 2 large active wildfires that have burned 7,219 acres across CO, and NC. As of Monday, 23 wildfires have burned 285 acres across the country.

  • In Colorado, 1 fire has burned a total of 6,219 acres as of Monday.

    • The Marshall fire burned 6,219 acres and was 74% contained as of Monday.

      • Driven by powerful winds, the flames devoured home after home within minutes.

      • The flames moved so quickly through the dried grass, firefighter crews couldn’t keep up.

      • Xcel Energy crews work to restore gas, power to the Marshall Fire zone.

      • A local, whose house is still standing after the devastating fire, helped coordinate with Xcel crews to get the pilot lights re-lit at his neighbors’ homes.

      • Among the 991 homes destroyed in the Marshall Fire, there are others still standing, but have smoke damage.

        • If the smoke damage is so bad it may not be possible to live there until it is thoroughly cleaned by restoration companies. In severe cases, walls may have to be replaced.

  • A winter wildfire is a rare event, but many weather experts say as the climate warms and droughts become more common, it won’t be all that rare in the future.

    • Because of increases in temperature and because of increasing frequency and duration and severity of drought, there’s a higher probability that powerful winds are going to come when the vegetation is quite dry.

    • Drier conditions are making it more likely that a fire is going to spread rapidly and be difficult to contain.

    • There have been discussions at utility companies about shutting off the power when there are high winds, especially during dry periods.

  • Investigation found that a Pacific Gas & Electric Co. power line sparked the nearly million-acre Dixie fire.

    • Investigators found that the fire was caused by a tree contacting electrical distribution lines owned and operated by PG&E located west of Cresta Dam.

    • The Dixie fire is not the first wildfire state investigators have traced to the utility company’s equipment.

      • In December, PG&E agreed to pay $125 million in fines and penalties under a settlement reached with state regulators after Cal Fire found that a faulty transmission line sparked the Kincade fire.

      • PG&E filed for bankruptcy protection in January 2019 to shield itself from tens of billions of dollars in potential liabilities due to its role in fires.

      • The company pleaded guilty last year to 84 counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the Camp fire and agreed to pay the maximum criminal fine of $3.5 million plus $500,000 for the cost of the investigation.

Extreme Heat

  • Nearly every state in the U.S. is projected to have its hottest recorded December ever, after several regions throughout the country experienced unprecedented winter heat.

    • The Lower 48 states are among those that experienced the record-breaking temperatures, with areas reporting highs that exceeded those from more than a century of December data.

    • Texas experienced its warmest December on record since 1889 with temperatures averaging 5 to 9 degrees above normal.

    • In just the first two days of December, records were broken in Washington, Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota, as temperatures felt more like spring than winter.

    • The most extreme heat was concentrated in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.

  • Las Vegas, Nevada is looking to follow Phoenix’s lead and launching its own Office of Heat Response and Mitigation.

    • Heat is by far the biggest weather threat in the region, both in terms of Las Vegans’ health and the quality of life in our community.

    • As is, extreme heat disproportionately affects lower-income areas, where residents suffer from less access to reliable air conditioning, less shading from trees and other vegetation, and higher population density than individuals in higher-income areas.

  • At Sycan Marsh, The Nature Conservancy works with the Forest Service, academic researchers and with the Klamath and other local Native American tribes, who have a long tradition of managing forests through intentional fire to prepare foresters for a hotter planet.

    • The preserve is essentially a large laboratory, with different treatments applied in parts of the forest.

    • In some plots, thinning is designed to leave clusters of trees, made up of a mixture of species and ages. In others there’s less of a discernible pattern.

    • Prescribed burns are conducted on some plots.

    • A control plot, which was neither thinned nor burned, was largely incinerated as the fire swept through.

    • The Forest Service plans to increase the acreage treated with fire over the next decade.

New Reports And Data

  • A January 2022 study found that nearly three-quarters of the Mass die-off of Magellanic penguins seen during the 2019 heat wave was due to dehydration.

  • A January 2022 study found that steroid hormones contribute to the heat stress resistance of plants.

  • A December 2021 study found that electric vehicles also provide lower carbon emissions from the supply chain in comparison to fossil fueled vehicles.


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