Climate Impact Report – 02/23

Quick Facts

New study

finds global warming and land-use change would make wildfires more frequent and intense, with a 14% increase by 2030 and a 30% rise by 2050


crashes were reported in the last 24 hours, injuring 34 people during major winter storms in Minnesota


A winter weather advisory was issued in the mountains of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties

Key Facts Of The Day 2/23

Storms and Flooding

  • Snowy conditions in parts of the northern United States made for dangerous driving conditions across roadways in eastern Oregon and parts of North Dakota that contributed to dangerous multi-car crashes and led to highway closures.

    • As police officers responded to a multi-vehicle crash on Interstate 84 between Pendleton, Oregon, and La Grande, Oregon, the officers could hear additional crashes occurring behind them as conditions continued to worsen.

      • The massive pileup led to the closure of I-84 Monday afternoon to Tuesday morning.

    • In North Dakota, near-whiteout conditions led to a multi-vehicle crash that caused multiple injuries on I-94 near Casselton.

      • The crash involved 14 vehicles and injured at least six people.

  • Coldest storm of the season arrives in Southern California with sleet, snow, but little rain.

    • California Highway Patrol officers reported some vehicles were stuck due to snowy conditions on San Francisquito Canyon Road between the Santa Clarita area and the Antelope Valley.

    • A winter weather advisory was issued in the mountains of San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties, with up to 3 inches of snow possible at 2,500 feet and up to 5 inches at higher elevations.

    • Advisories were also in effect for the mountains of San Diego, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, where even higher snowfall totals of up to 12 inches are possible.

    • Several school districts in San Diego County declared a snow day and canceled classes because of road hazards and high winds.

    • The weather service issued hard freeze watches and wind advisories in several areas.

  • A late-week winter storm could drop as much as 4 to 6 inches of snow in far northern New Jersey.

    • There is also a threat of icy roads across many northern and central counties — especially Friday morning.

    • Forecasters from the National Weather Service say the snow will likely change to sleet and freezing rain or become a mix in many areas of the state — which could create a thin layer of ice on some untreated roads and walkways.

  • One winter storm has wreaked havoc on Midwest roadways, and another is gearing up to bring a dangerous wave of ice and snow to the Northeast.

    • The first storm slammed the Midwest Tuesday, dropping 10 to 30 inches of snow in some areas.

    • The Minnesota State Patrol reported 373 crashes in the last 24 hours, injuring 34 people.

    • The second storm is forecast to bring major ice accumulation this week from Texas to New York state.

    • On Wednesday the storm will create horrendous conditions on roads in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas.

      • A winter storm warning has been issued for Dallas where ice will be the biggest threat.

    • The storm then moves north, bringing rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow to the mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

      • On Thursday morning an icy mix will bring sleet, snow and freezing rain to the Mid-Atlantic and Washington, D.C., area.

      • Thursday night, a more significant wave of ice and snow will arrive to the Interstate 95 corridor from D.C. to Philadelphia and into northern New Jersey.

      • Freezing rain and sleet will fall Thursday night into Friday morning from Philadelphia to New York City to New York’s Hudson Valley.


  • As of Friday, there are currently 15 large active wildfires that have burned 21,177 acres across CA, FL, KY, TX, MS, and OK. As of Friday, 5,544 wildfires have burned 116,401 acres across the country.

  • In California, 1 fire has burned 4,136 acres as of Friday.

    • The Airport Fire burned 4,136 acres and was 82% contained as of Wednesday.

  • According to a study by the UN Environment Program (UNEP) and the environmental nonprofit GRID-Arendal, global warming and land-use change would make wildfires more frequent and intense, with a 14% increase by 2030 and a 30% rise by 2050.

    • The risk worldwide of highly devastating fires could increase by up to 57% by the end of the century, primarily because of climate change.

    • Currently, direct responses to wildfires usually receive over 50% of funding, while planning and prevention get less than 1%, per the research.

    • The report advises governments to adopt a new “Fire Ready Formula” that would allocate 32% to prevention, 13% to preparedness, 34% to response and up to 20% to recovery.

    • In the U.S., average annual federal firefighting costs have skyrocketed to $1.9 billion as of 2020 — a rise of more than 170% in a decade.

    • Wildfires, which are often ignited by lightning strikes or human activity, are becoming more frequent because of human-caused climate change.

  • The prolonged drought in the American West — the region’s worst, in at least 1,200 years — has been helping to spark wildfires earlier in the year.

Extreme Heat

  • Oregon’s medical examiner confirmed 96 people in 28 different cities died of hyperthermia last June during the heatwave.

    • One of the deaths involved a farmworker in Marion County who died while working in St. Paul.

    • Many who died were older, lived alone, and had no working air conditioning.

    • There were 190% more heat-related emergency department and urgent care visits in 2021 than in 2020. Of those visits, 59% were from zip codes with a  median household income below $50,000.

  • Two bills have been introduced in Oregon’s recent legislative session in response to the extreme heat event.

    • One bill directs $5 million to the Oregon Health Authority to create a program to acquire and distribute air conditioners and filters on an emergency basis to eligible individuals.

      • An additional $10 million would be appropriated to the State Department of Energy for the establishment of a Heat Pump Deployment Program that would provide financial assistance for the installation and purchase of heat pumps.

      • Financial assistance for the installation of the heat pump systems would be prioritized for low-income and environmental justice communities and those who rely on bulk fuels for their primary heat source.

    • A second bill would limit existing restrictions on renters’ installation of portable air conditioners.

  • Poor forest management and drought are causing more intense wildfires in California.

  • An effective extreme-heat warning system could help save lives.

  • Washington winemakers struggle to save their crops as extreme weather becomes the norm.

    • Higher temperatures and wildfire smoke have forced growers to adapt.

    • Winemakers in the area are thinking of growing different varieties better suited for warmer temperatures.

    • Precept Wine Brands, the largest privately-owned wine company in the Northwest, is spending February removing grape vines first planted in the early 1990s that no longer produce quality fruit.

    • Some winemakers are hiding the fruit with a canopy.

  • Work is proceeding in the Yakima River Basin to prepare for climate change and the loss of snowpack.

    • In the Kittitas Reclamation District, they are constructing plastic-lined irrigation canals.

    • Farmers and ranchers in the Yakima Basin have experienced 11 droughts between 1926 and 2020.

New Reports And Data

  • A February 2022 report found that global warming and land-use change would make wildfires more frequent and intense, with a 14% increase by 2030 and a 30% rise by 2050.

  • A February 2022 report found that only 9% of plastic waste is successfully recycled.

  • A February 2022 study found that recent flood maps from the Federal Emergency Management Agency do not capture the full extent of flood risk in the continental U.S.


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