Climate Impact Report – 01/12

Quick Facts


Alaska declared a disaster emergency as hazardous winter weather hit Southeast Alaska

~ 70%

of the infrastructure in the Northern Hemisphere’s permafrost regions are located in areas that could have near-surface thaw by 2050

no heat

Parts of a women’s prison in Shelby County, Kentucky have been without proper heat or hot water since last Thursday

Key Facts Of The Day 1/12

Storms and Flooding

  • Yakutat declared a disaster emergency as hazardous winter weather hit Southeast Alaska with exceptionally heavy snow, rain and ice piled atop critical buildings and infrastructure.

    • Other communities in Southeast Alaska are also dealing with hazardous winter weather this week, with two buildings collapsing in Juneau.

    • Yakutat, on the upper edge of the Southeast Alaska panhandle, has seen up to 6 feet of snow in recent weeks after a rare cold snap that pushed temperatures below zero.

    • The town’s newly completed Yakutat Clinic Health Center was forced to close as 4 to 5 feet of heavy snow caused water damage to the building and equipment.

    • The Alaska National Guard has been requested by the State Emergency Operations Center to build a team of approximately 20 service members and multiple vehicles to be transported to Yakutat in order to provide emergency snow removal and building safety assessment to the community.

    • Schools, government buildings and roads in communities across the region have been closed because of the inclement weather.

  • As of Tuesday, a mass of arctic air swept into the Northeast, bringing sub-zero temperatures and closing schools across the region for the second time in less than a week.

    • Schools in Massachusetts’ three largest cities — Boston, Worcester and Springfield — canceled classes, saying they did not want children standing outside for extended periods of time waiting for buses.

    • Low temperatures can result in frostbite to exposed skin in as little as 30 minutes.

    • Syracuse, New York, Manchester, New Hampshire, and Burlington, Vermont, were among communities that also closed public schools.

    • Wind chill temperatures in areas near lakes Erie and Ontario in New York state were expected to drop as low as -30 degrees.

      • Parts of the state were expected to be hit with up to 2 feet of lake-effect snow and winds gusting up to 40 MPH.

  • Atmospheric river brings new flood concerns to Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia.

    • As much as 10 inches could fall in the mountains, increasing the threat of landslides.

    • Flood watches are in effect for most of northwest Washington, including downtown Seattle.

    • Snowfall is forecast for elevations beginning at 6,500 to 7,500 feet in the Cascades through Wednesday.

  • As of Tuesday, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. crews have successfully restored power to all businesses and residences affected by the winter storms a few weeks ago.

    • More than 900 locations were damaged in Humboldt, Trinity, and Mendocino counties.

    • The last customers they restored power to were those located in rural areas and those difficult to reach.

  • Winter road salt makes some Philadelphia streams as salty as the ocean and is enough to kill wildlife.

    • After Sunday’s ice storm, a water sensor in Tookany Creek in Jenkintown detected salt levels so high at more than 57,000 microsiemens per centimeter that it was saltier than the ocean.

    • Freshwater streams, lakes, and rivers should measure close to zero, but no more than 1,500.

    • There is currently enough salt in some streams to stress or kill certain species of fish, insects, amphibians, and mussels.

    • All that sodium chloride flushing into local waterways can also impact wetlands, penetrate asphalt and concrete to promote potholes, and corrode metal pipes and other infrastructure.

  • Winter weather caused a Roanoke, Virginia grocery market’s roof to cave in and close until further notice.

    • Contractors went out to the site to evaluate the damage, but a GoFundMe has been started just in case insurance may not cover all the expenses.

  • Parts of a women’s prison in Shelby County have been without proper heat or hot water since last Thursday, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky.

    • The area has since seen inclement weather and below-freezing temperatures.


  • As of Friday, there are currently 0 large active wildfires. As of Friday, 165 wildfires have burned 1,729 acres across the country.

  • Wildfires are a risk in different types of suburban Colorado areas.

    • Wildfires in general are becoming more intense, virtually by the year. The 20 largest wildfires in Colorado happened since 2001.

    • Wildfire is a year-round threat in Douglas County, Colorado.

      • Oak brush, ponderosa pine trees, and the rolling landscape are fuels for fire in Douglas county.

    • In Centennial, close calls can be “greenbelt” fires involving open space and parks.

  • Regions that never used to burn are now suffering from forest fires, which raises the risks of dangerous mudslides that are hard to forecast.

Extreme Heat

  • Cracked homes, buckled roads and ruptured pipelines are likely to become common in and near the Arctic as warming temperatures cause frozen ground to thaw.

    • Climate change is causing the Arctic, where five million people live, to warm two-to-four times faster than the rest of the planet.

    • Warming temperatures are causing parts of it to thaw with often unpredictable effects, including sinkhole formation, land slips and flooding.

    • Because of the unequal way that the U.S. government divided up land after colonization in the 19th and 20th centuries, indigenous villages now have limited land and few options to move as it becomes unstable.

  • 2021 saw large-scale wildfires, extensive drought, devastating storms and bizarre cold patches dominated the year.

    • The impacts of these resulted in 20 different billion-dollar weather and climate disasters across the U.S.

    • These disasters also resulted in more than 600 deaths.

  • 2021 was the 3rd hottest year on record in Utah.

    • Utah ended 2021 with an average temperature of 50.7 degrees.

    • On July 10, in the middle of one of the heat waves, the National Weather Service recorded a temperature of 117 degrees in St. George, matching the state’s all-time hottest temperature ever recorded.

    • Salt Lake City also matched it’s all-time record in 2021 when it hit 107 degrees on June 15 during another heat wave.

    • September and November each ended up among the 10 hottest on record, while December fell in the top 25 hottest.

  • 2021 was the 4th warmest year on record in Ohio.

  • 2021 was Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s 3rd warmest and 16th driest year.

    • Ten months of the year were above-average including the warmest October record and the second warmest June on record.

    • Most of 2021 was spent in a drought with parts of southeast Wisconsin seeing extreme drought conditions at times.

New Reports And Data

  • A January 2022 study found that nearly 70% of the infrastructure in the Northern Hemisphere’s permafrost regions are located in areas that could have near-surface thaw by 2050.

  • A January 2022 study found that an estimated 370,000 Californians rely on drinking water that may contain high levels of arsenic, nitrate or hexavalent chromium, and contaminated drinking water disproportionately impacts communities of color in the state.


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