Climate Impact Report – 02/17

Quick Facts

100 M

and more Americans were under some type of weather alert Wednesday ahead of threats for heavy snow, flooding rain, damaging winds and severe thunderstorms

Airport Fire

As of Thursday, the Airport Fire in California has burned 2,800 acres and is 0% contained


Western water experts echoed the concern that the term "drought" may be insufficient to capture the region's current hydrology and should instead be called "aridification."

Key Facts Of The Day 2/17

Storms and Flooding

  • More than 100 million Americans were under some type of weather alert Wednesday ahead of threats for heavy snow, flooding rain, damaging winds and severe thunderstorms.

    • Heavy snow with snowfall rates of 2 inches per hour at times was affecting parts of the Central Plains and Midwest on Thursday morning.

      • A  thunderstorm was reported in the Kansas City area.

      • The heavy snow is expected to continue through the day Thursday along with a wintry mix of sleet and freezing rain.

    • At the same time, 1 to 3 inches of rain falling over already significant snow totals was expected to result in flood concerns from the Midwest to New England.

      • More than 100 river gauges are forecast to rise into minor to major flood stages in the coming days.

    • A risk for strong tornadoes exists, especially across portions of Mississippi, western and middle Tennessee and western Alabama. Other threats include wind gusts to 75 MPH and hail.

    • On Thursday night into Friday morning, the heavy rain accompanied by strong winds will reach the East Coast. Winds could gust as high as 65 MPH in spots.

    • Ahead of the storm, there will be record warm temperatures across parts of the Northeast and New England.

      • About a half a dozen records will be possible Thursday across portions of New England, including Boston, which will set a record if they hit 62 degrees.

      • Highs in this region will be 20-30 degrees above average, making it feel more like April than February.

  • By Wednesday afternoon, dozens of schools and school districts in Illinois had announced plans to switch to e-learning or close Thursday.


  • As of Friday, 3,120 wildfires have burned 54,170 acres across the country.

  • As of Thursday, the Airport Fire in California has burned 2,800 acres and is 0% contained.

    • The blaze ignited near Eastern Sierra Regional Airport off Airport Road and East Line Street, in the Owens Valley.

    • Driven by wind, the Airport fire was the largest of three wildfires to have broken out in the state so far in 2022.

    • Authorities on Wednesday closed East Line Street, Airport Road, Poleta Road, Warm Springs Road and Collins Road.

    • UC White Mountain Research Center and Owens Valley Radio Observatory were asked to evacuate as a precaution.

    • Authorities ordered evacuations for areas of Big Pine east of Highway 395.

    • An evacuation center was set up at the Bishop Senior Center, at 682 Spruce St.

    • There are more than 432 personnel fighting the fire.

  • The number of annual high-risk fire days in Southern California could double by 2100 due  to steady temperature increases brought on by climate change.

    • If the average temperature in Southern California increases by nearly 9 degrees by 2100, the region’s annual number of high-fire-risk days would nearly double to 58 per year.

Extreme Heat

  • Western water experts echoed the concern that the term “drought” may be insufficient to capture the region’s current hydrology and should instead be called “aridification.”

    • Droughts are temporary and aridification is the process of a region becoming increasingly arid, or dry.

    • Winter weather conditions in the west have been inconsistent.

  • California drought on course to break another record.

    • The first group of people impacted by Colorado River water cuts will be farmers in Arizona — but municipalities in the state could also see reductions depending on how far the river levels fall.

    • Last summer, Nevada banned nonfunctional grass that uses up too much water, and some cities are looking at planting native plants and grasses that don’t need constant watering.

    • An association of water agencies in Southern and Northern California and the San Joaquin Valley that receive supplies from the State Water Project are getting 15% of their requested supplies from the state aqueduct, which carries water from Northern California rivers south.

    • In San Jose, customers have to pay extra fees if they exceed limits based on a 15% cut in amounts of water they used in 2019.

    • Most of the state’s reservoirs are sitting below historic averages despite the December deluge.

      • Lake Shasta is about half a million acre-feet — enough to supply 1.5 million households for one year — short of where it stood last year.

      • Oroville has climbed above last year’s levels, but the amount of water flowing out is starting to match water flowing in following a dry January

  • Local irrigation district officials and Merced County farmers are worried the current wet season isn’t wet enough to yield more than one acre-foot of surface water for many local farmers in the coming dry season.

  • A pair of California legislators and the state’s insurance commissioner are pushing a bill to create an early warning system for heatwaves.

    • An early warning ranking system for heat waves would further empower local governments and communities to plan in advance and implement specific policies to reduce the impacts from the harshest heat waves, especially on vulnerable communities and those more susceptible to extreme heat.

New Reports And Data

  • A February 2022 study found that an increase in hot, dry nights in recent decades has resulted in nighttime wildfires becoming more intense and more frequent.

  • A February 2022 study found that it will be increasingly difficult to predict the consequences of climate change on host-pathogen interactions as global temperatures rise and extreme weather events become more common.

  • A February 2022 study found that 45,000 marine species are at risk due to climate change and pollution.


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