According to the National Centers for Environmental Information, in 2023 (as of November 8), there have been 25 confirmed weather/climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each to affect United States. These events included 1 drought event, 2 flooding events, 19 severe storm events, 1 tropical cyclone event, 1 wildfire event, and 1 winter storm event.
“Just because the forecast says it was normal doesn't necessarily mean that we're always going to see warmer temperatures.” says Bouley. “It does mean that we see more instances of heavy wet snow, which is oftentimes a big problem when it comes to power outages and down trees. Also mixed precipitation, whether it is falling as sleet or freezing rain, is another issue with our electricity grid, weighing down power lines and trees.”
This winter, forecasters expect El Nino to play a big role in winter weather patterns, but Bouley explains that the direct effect on New England weather may be limited. “This year, the weather patterns are really dominated by El Nino, which is a an oscillation pattern in the Southern Pacific. That is really going to determine the weather specifically for southern portions of the country, in terms of a lot of extra precipitation.”
Across Northern New England, the forecast looks similar to what the region saw the previous year. “You can see from the seasonal temperature outlook that the Climate Prediction Center was put out, we are looking at above average temperatures once again for the Northeast. This means a similar winter to what we saw last year where we saw big swings in temperature.” said Bouley.
Bouley recalls a weather event from last year, where above normal temperatures led to severe weather impacts across parts of Northern New England. “We all remember December 23rd, where we had that extreme drop in temperature that led to a flash freeze. It’s just one instance of above average temperatures leading to really devastating weather, because a lot of folks were once again out without power.”
A warmer winter not only brings weather impacts for travelers and homeowners, such as the threat of freezing rain or intense bands of heavy snow, but it also leads to a more complicated weather forecast, with a higher margin of error. “Precipitation mixing can aggravate the impacts of a system and create more challenges for us, and create more forecasting challenges for us as meteorologists, so we’re not looking forward to another above average winter.” said Bouley.
Today, the Red Cross is responding to nearly twice as many large disasters as we did a decade ago. We are seeing firsthand that we need new ways to approach the new climate crisis challenges we are facing. As extreme weather increases, we’re also seeing more blood drive cancellations. In 2022, we saw a 23% higher rate of weather cancelations than in previous years.
With more intense winter weather over the past few years, Bouley is now advocating preparedness to her viewers, to be ready for the next big storm. “I've been really pushing that folks have some sort of emergency power outage kit because we found that more and more folks are losing power during storm systems. Folks are left unprepared and you're more likely to find an instance where you lose power for a couple of hours to a couple of days during the winter time than I think ever before.”
As a national leader in disaster relief that stands ready to serve every community in the country, the Red Cross is uniquely positioned to make a significant and lasting impact for those grappling with the largest humanitarian crisis of our time.
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