Weather Extremes are a Problem for Today
Out-of-season weather trends should change your preparedness strategies
May 31, 2023
There are so many articles predicting extreme weather to impact us years down the road, but if you ask me we are seeing those extremes today.
Some may argue that out-of-season temperature extremes don’t count as extreme weather events. For example, Philadelphia hit 88 degrees during April. No harm was really done. In fact, most people enjoyed it. However, if you think about it, 88 degrees on April 13 isn’t exactly a normal event. The average high during April is 66, and those temperatures are usually seen at the end of the month. Year over year, we are seeing our average highs climb, and this year we will continue to see that trend.
Over time, our weather extremes start to feel a bit more like our weather norms.
A single-day high temperature isn’t an extreme event, but we see plenty of those, as well. Looking across the country, there are many extreme weather events affecting the U.S. Think of Fort Lauderdale, which received 24 inches of rain in only a few hours. Consider your impacts if that were to happen where you live or work. That is certainly not just a Florida thing. That could happen anywhere, and with a changing climate we need to be flexible about how we define “normal” for our region. We think we saw the worst until the next worst happens.
It was recently reported that the deemed “tornado alley” is shifting eastward. What used to be northeastern Texas, eastern Oklahoma, western Arkansas, and Missouri is now shifting to be eastern Missouri and Arkansas, western Tennessee and Kentucky, and northern Mississippi and Alabama. As these weather extremes continue and the climate continues to change, this trend of an eastward shift will endure. We know this because we have seen an increase in tornado activity in recent years throughout Pennsylvania.
Mitigation is key to any of these weather extremes. Sit at the planning table and identify the potential impact from an extreme weather event prior to a major construction or renovation project. Ensure that structural and environmental mitigation is at the forefront. If you are in a flood-prone area now, think about what you wish you had done before your worst flood, and then think about a flood even worse than that one. Repeat this process with other weather extremes that we can expect to see this year, or in years to come. After all, we hope these weather events remain outliers, but we always must be prepared for the worst extreme.
For more information about getting ready for severe weather, don’t hesitate to contact me or HAP’s Emergency Management team for more information.