Climate Impact Report – 09/20
At least four people have died from Hurricane Fiona, including one in the French territory of Guadeloupe, which Fiona slammed late last week; two in Puerto Rico; and one in the Dominican Republic.
A report by Climate Central found that between 2000 and 2021, about 83% of reported major outages in the U.S. were attributed to weather-related events.
Western reservoirs could run dry in the next three to four years barring aggressive reductions to water demands.
Key Facts Of The Day 09/20
- As of Tuesday morning, category 3 Hurricane Fiona was located near the Turks and Caicos Islands, with maximum sustained winds of 115 MPH and moving north-northwest at 9 MPH.
- At least four people have died from the severe weather, including one in the French territory of Guadeloupe, which Fiona slammed late last week; two in Puerto Rico; and one in the Dominican Republic.
- As Tuesday marks the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Maria’s catastrophic landfall, some who lived through the 2017 crisis say Fiona’s flooding destruction could be even more severe.
- Puerto Rico’s health centers were running on generators — and some of those had failed.
- Health Secretary Carlos Mellado said crews rushed to repair generators at the Comprehensive Cancer Center, where several patients had to be evacuated.
- As of early Tuesday, more than 1.18 million of Puerto Rico’s roughly 1.47 million utility customers were still without power.
- By midday Monday, about 1,000 people in Puerto Rico had been rescued by emergency crews.
- As of Monday, rain and flooding impacts to the filtration systems left only about 35% of customers with water service in Puerto Rico.
- New York Gov. Kathy Hochul also announced the state would send 100 state troopers to assist relief efforts in Puerto Rico.
- Storm surge was anticipated to raise water levels by as much as 1 to 3 feet above normal tide in coastal areas hit by onshore winds in the Dominican Republic on Tuesday.
- Nearly 800 people were brought to safety by emergency workers in the Dominican Republic.
- On Monday, at least 519 people took refuge in the Dominican Republic’s 29 shelters.
- As of Monday afternoon, at least 1,018,564 customers across the Dominican Republic had no access to running water as 59 aqueducts were out of service and several others were only partially functioning.
- The most intense storm ever recorded in the Bering Sea during September blasted communities across a 1,000-mile stretch of Alaska’s coastline with hurricane-force winds and record storm surge flooding.
- The massive storm system — big enough to cover the mainland U.S. from the Pacific Ocean to Nebraska and from Canada to Texas — influenced weather systems as far away as California, where a rare late-summer storm dropped rain on the northern part of the state.
- The villages hit include those that are already vulnerable to erosion and seeking to move to higher ground, such as Kivalina and Shishmaref.
- Shaktoolik, an Iñupiat community of about 320 people, lost its protective berm, leaving them fully exposed to future storm surge flooding.
- Several communities reported homes were knocked off their foundations by the force of the incoming water.
- Brian Brettschneider, a climate scientist based in Alaska, said such intense, out-of-season storms may become more frequent as climate change progresses.
- Scientists have long warned that rapid Arctic warming, with melting permafrost, sea level rise, and longer ice-free seasons would imperil Alaska’s coastal communities.
- A report by Climate Central found that between 2000 and 2021, about 83% of reported major outages in the U.S. were attributed to weather-related events.
- 58% of weather-related power outages were caused by severe weather such as high winds, rain, and thunderstorms.
- 22% were caused by winter weather, including snow, ice, and freezing rain.
- 15% were caused by tropical storms and hurricanes.
- Extreme heat and wildfire accounted for the remaining 5% of outages.
- The average annual number of weather-related power outages increased by roughly 78% during 2011-2021, compared to 2000-2010.
- The states with the most reported weather-related power outages were Texas, Michigan, California, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
- As of Tuesday, there are currently 94 large active wildfires that have burned 899,790 across CA, ID, MT, OK, OR, UT, WA, and WY. As of Tuesday, 51,533 wildfires have burned 6,801,009 acres across the country.
- In California, 6 fires have burned 154,504 acres as of Tuesday.
- The Mosquito Fire has burned 76,290 acres and is 39% contained as of Tuesday.
- In Oregon, 6 fires have burned 325,194 acres as of Tuesday.
- The Cedar Creek Fire has burned 113,322 acres and is 11% contained as of Tuesday.
- Colorado River Water Conservation District General Manager Andy Mueller warned Colorado River Basin states that the system’s federal reservoirs could effectively empty in the next three to four years barring aggressive reductions to water demands.
- Although Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Camille Touton instructed those seven states (Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, California, and Nevada) to find up to 4 million acre-feet in reductions, no agreements had been reached as of a mid-August deadline.
- In areas of California where people rely on groundwater, such as the San Joaquin Valley, wells are going dry and there’s intense competition to find and pull more water from underground.
- If the drill pipe doesn’t hit water, people who aren’t hooked up to municipal water systems won’t have water without buying it.
- Even if a property owner or community drills a successful well, the water that’s found could be contaminated.
- Pumping water from ever-deeper aquifers also causes the land to sink.
- The cycle of drought drying up reservoirs, deeper groundwater pumping, and the land falling in on itself spirals onward as climate change continues to affect drought and rainfall unpredictably.
New Reports and Data
- A September 2022 report found that farming and food firms could lose up to $150 billion by 2030 if they do not adapt to new government policies and consumer behavior tied to climate change.
- A September 2022 report found that between 2000 and 2021, about 83% of reported major outages in the U.S. were attributed to weather-related events.
- A September 2022 study found that the federal government needs a “cohesive, strategic approach” to reduce risk from climate change.
GET EXTREME WEATHER UPDATES STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX
Wanna know more? Sign up for regular updates on extreme weather impacts and how you can fight for bold climate action.