Giving Compass' Take:
- Extreme winter weather caused storms in the Eastern United States that significantly impacted people and their homes.
- As climate change worsens weather events, how can donors start to think about the ties between disaster planning and climate change?
- Read more about climate change and natural disasters.
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A severe winter storm brought blizzards, tornadoes and flooding to the Eastern United States on Tuesday, killing at least five people and leaving hundreds of thousands without power.
More than 100,000 people were still without power in New York on Wednesday, and electricity had not been restored for more than 50,000 residences and businesses in Pennsylvania and Maine, according to PowerOutage.us.
“The winter storm drove up the east coast, though not for the whole duration as predicted. The storm raged till about 11 p.m. when the winds and rains decreased, but prior to that, we heard two loud noises among the 59 mph winds,” writer Scott Rossi, a long-time resident of Sewell, New Jersey, told EcoWatch. “The first was a loud boom which turned out to be our tall wooden street light post which came crashing down horizontally and made our street impassable till morning. The second was our large metal BBQ grill, which was dragged by the sheer force of strong winds across our outdoor deck. Nearby towns had power outages, but in that regard we were lucky.”
Millions were still under flood alerts on Wednesday, reported The New York Times.
“Heavy to excessive rainfall, gusty winds and snowmelt have led to significant river and coastal flooding concerns across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. Flooding concerns will remain possible through this weekend,” the National Weather Service said Wednesday. “Heavy snow and strong winds continue to impact the Northwest with blizzard conditions in higher elevations. Blizzard conditions are also expected today along the western coast in Alaska.”
The storms claimed at least five lives in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina and Wisconsin on Tuesday, authorities said, as USA Today reported.
The storm brought high winds with gusts likely higher than 55 miles per hour ahead of what financial firm LSEG said would probably be the country’s coldest weather in two years, reported Reuters.
“If you live in the western mountains of North Carolina you know it was cold last night. It was already in the teens when we started having gusts of 40 to 50 mph. The rain from earlier in the day froze and soon we had 4 inches of snow building up. So you might hear quotes from the locals about how cold it was: ‘Cold enough to freeze the deer to their shadows,’” writer and artist Hilary Hemingway told EcoWatch.
One of the reasons is that warmer air has the capacity to hold more water.
“One of the most direct signals of warming of the atmosphere is the higher capacity of the atmosphere to hold water,” Andrew J. Kruczkiewicz, a Columbia Climate School senior researcher, told CNN. “And when we see that capacity to hold water, we see an increased risk of intense rainfall events — and we are seeing this is an intense rainfall event.”
The storm brought one to two inches of snow an hour to the Midwest, with the snow then moving into the Great Lakes, the National Weather Service said.
Read the full article about storm flooding damage by Cristen Hemingway Jaynes at EcoWatch.