Climate Impact Report – 01/19

Quick Facts

10 year plan

Biden Administration announced a 10-year, multibillion-dollar plan to reduce the fire risk on up to 50 million acres that border vulnerable communities

3 years

after the Western Iowa towns were hit hard by the 2019 floods, they are still working toward recovery


This past weekend’s winter storm in eastern U.S. turned deadly, created travel nightmares and thousands of power outages

Key Facts Of The Day 1/19

Storms and Flooding

  • Texas Power Grid braces for freeze that imperils fuel supply.

    • According to the National Weather Service, temperatures in wide swaths of the state are forecast to plunge to well below normal in coming days.

    • In Midland, Texas, the unofficial capital of the Permian Basin oil and gas field, temperatures are forecast to bottom out at 18 degrees Fahrenheit on Thursday.

    • Gas wells are particularly susceptible to so-called freeze offs because of the high volumes of subterranean water that typically flow out of the ground alongside the fuel.

    • The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said that three generators out of 302 resources inspected didn’t meet the standards.

  • This past weekend’s winter storm in eastern U.S. turned deadly, created travel nightmares and thousands of power outages.

    • In North Carolina, authorities said the storm played a role in the death of two people in a crash Sunday afternoon.

    • Also in North Carolina, a tractor-trailer slid off the Highway 147 bridge in Durham Sunday afternoon, leaving the truck dangling off the overpass as a result of the icy roads.

    • In West Memphis, Arkansas, a houseless man was found dead under an overpass after a winter storm with sub-freezing temperatures.

      • Kent McConnell lives in Marion, and he says there needs to be more shelter for the homeless population in the area.

      • The city of West Memphis says it does not have any warming centers, but there is a mission to provide shelter for those in need.

    • More than 200,000 customers were without power in the eastern U.S. on Monday morning.

    • As the storm moved northward into Virginia, police responded to 482 crashes and another 486 disabled vehicles across the commonwealth on Sunday.

    • Buffalo, New York, set a new daily snowfall record with the city picking up 17.6 inches of snow.

    • Flood sirens were sounded in Milford, Connecticut, Monday morning to alert residents to move their vehicles to higher elevations.

    • Many coastal towns had street flooding Monday morning as high tide coincided with the strong winds.

    • Nearly two feet of snow fell in some parts of Northeast Ohio during Sunday night and Monday morning’s winter storm, and that means parking bans are still in effect in some cities.

  • Three years after the Western Iowa towns were hit hard by the 2019 floods, they are still working toward recovery.

    • The towns of Hamburg and Pacific Junction are awaiting levee certifications to move their communities forward.

    • After the disaster, more than 350 people moved out of the already small town. With only a little over 90 people remaining, funding from snow removal to street repairs has been difficult.


  • As of Friday, there are currently 2 large active wildfires that have burned 1,005 acres across AK, and LA. As of Friday, 457 wildfires have burned 7,080 acres across the country.

  • As of Wednesday, the Bastrop County Fire has burned 783 acres and is 30% contained.

    • As of Tuesday, a wildfire broke out in Bastrop County, Texas and around 250 families had to be evacuated.

    • Officials said Wednesday morning that thick smoke limiting visibility will also continue to be a safety factor for drivers.

    • Strong north winds and dry vegetation contributed to increased wildfire activity over the weekend.

    • Bastrop, Fayette and Lee counties do not currently have burn bans in place.

  • On Tuesday, the Biden Administration announced a 10-year, multibillion-dollar plan to reduce the fire risk on up to 50 million acres that border vulnerable communities.

    • The federal Agriculture Department said in a statement that it would take measures to reduce the danger of catastrophic fires in dozens of spots in 11 Western states by thinning overgrown trees and using controlled burns to get rid of dead vegetation.

      • The agency plans to take preventive measures on land in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah and Washington.

      • The plan would quadruple the government’s land.

    • The goal is to make forests more resilient and “fire-adaptive.”

    • Drought and extreme heat, made worse by global warming, have played a role by making forests tinder-dry and easier to burn.

    • Climate change, as well as overgrown forests and an increasing number of homes in areas where nature and urban life meet, have led to a full-blown wildfire and forest health crisis.

Extreme Heat

  • Oregon received more rainfall and snowfall over the last month, thanks to a La Niña winter but it has not helped the drought in all of the state.

    • 42% of Oregon is under extreme drought and around 16% is under the worst level of drought.

  • Utah’s snowpack is better than last year, but officials say consistency is key to ending drought.

    •  Around 32% of the state is still in an “extreme” drought with Summit County in a “severe” drought.

    • The majority of Utah’s water supply, around 95%, comes from the snowpack, and last water year the snowpack peaked at around 81% of average.

    • Below-average precipitation, combined with a hot, dry summer caused the melting snowpack to saturate the soil rather than run off into bodies of water and led to an exceptional drought throughout the state.

    • Currently, 35 of Utah’s largest reservoirs are below 55% of available capacity, compared to last year, when reservoirs were at about 62% capacity.

  • As of Tuesday, 0% of California experienced “exceptional” drought, but virtually all of the state continues to be mired in moderate to severe drought.

    • The recent big storms may not refill major reservoirs during the next few months. California needs more storms and average temperatures this winter and spring.

    • To make up for the last two years — which each ranked among the five driest on record — the state needs “significant January and February precipitation,”

    • According to the seasonal outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center, the probability favors it to be drier-than-normal for most of California because of a La Niña event.

  • Ongoing drought impacts businesses around Big Bear Lake in California.

    • Despite the heavy rains and record snowfall this past December, the Department of Water Resources said California remains in a drought.

    • Even after the recent storms, the lake currently sits at about 15 feet below full as of January 2022.

    • Big Bear Marina owner, Steve Fengler, said that during last spring and summer seasons, he had to physically move his docks and storefront to deeper water.

      • In the nine years Fengler has owned Big Bear Marina, the lake has never been full.

    • Big Bear Municipal Water District General Manager Mike Stephenson said he has seen the lake full three times during his three-plus decades with the district.

  • Hunt County, Texas is under extreme drought and heightened fire danger.

    • Much of North Texas was under an increased threat of grass and wild fires Friday due to the drought and gusty winds accompanied with the arrival of a powerful cold front.

    • Despite the potential of snow in the weekend forecast, it is likely the drought conditions will only get worse before they get better with no chances for significant precipitation in the coming week.

  • More than 200 million acres of forested land span the Southeastern U.S., but increasingly extreme weather poses risks to trees.

    • Warmer temperatures can contribute to pest outbreaks and disease.

    • More frequent droughts can stress trees.

    • Increasingly intense wildfires can also damage large areas of forest.

    • Most forested land in the Southeast is privately owned by families and businesses who harvest at least some of their trees for timber.

    • Sound forest management practices will go a long way towards mitigating the impacts of climate change.

      • Thinning forests can reduce wildfire risk, and increase the water and nutrients available for the remaining trees.

New Reports And Data

  • A January 2022 survey found that an increase in marine heat waves threatens coastal habitats in Chesapeake Bay.

  • A January 2022 study  found that freshwater rivers flowing into the Arctic are speeding up ice melt at an alarming rate.

  • A January 2022 study found that energy systems, especially the electric-power system, are vulnerable to natural stressors such as wildfires, severe storms, extreme temperatures and long-term disruptions of the hydrological cycle.


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