sunny.png
Friday October 22nd, 2021 6:21PM

More deadly storms coming so prepare better, experts say

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Deadly weather will be hitting the U.S. more often, and America had better get better at dealing with it, experts said Wednesday as Texas and other states battled winter storms that blew past the worst-case planning of utilities, governments and millions of shivering citizens.

This week's storms — with more still heading east — fit a pattern of worsening extremes under climate change and demonstrate anew that local, state and federal officials have failed to do nearly enough to prepare for greater and more dangerous weather.

At least two dozen people have died this week, including from fire or carbon monoxide poisoning while struggling to find warmth inside their homes. In Oklahoma City, an Arctic blast plunged temperatures in the state capital as low as 14 degrees below 0 (-25 Celsius).

“This is a different kind of storm,'' said Kendra Clements, one of several businesspeople in Oklahoma City who opened their buildings to shelter homeless people, some with frostbite, hypothermia and icicles in their hair. It was also a harbinger of what social service providers and governments say will be a surge of increased needs for society’s most vulnerable as climate and natural disasters worsen.

Other Americans are at risk as well. Power supplies of all sorts failed in the extreme cold, including natural gas-fired power plants that were knocked offline amid icy conditions and, to a smaller extent, wind turbines that froze and stopped working. More than 100 million people live in areas under winter weather warnings, watches or advisories, and blackouts are expected to continue in some parts of the country for days.

The crisis sounded an alarm for power systems throughout the country: As climate change worsens, severe conditions that go beyond historical norms are becoming ever more common. Texas, for example, expects power demand to peak in the heat of summer, not the depths of winter, as it did this week.

The dire storms come as President Joe Biden aims to spend up to $2 trillion on infrastructure and clean energy investment over four years. Biden has pledged to update the U.S. power grid to be carbon-pollution free by 2035 as well as weatherize buildings, repair roads and build electric vehicle charging stations.

“Building resilient and sustainable infrastructure that can withstand extreme weather and a changing climate will play an integral role” in creating jobs and meeting Biden’s goal of “a net-zero emissions future,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday.

The storms are big news this week, especially in light of their effect on COVID-19 vaccinations as well as freezing Americans, but that doesn't mean they won't become more common, experts say.

“This definitely was an anomaly,'' but one that is likely to occur more frequently as a result of climate change, said Sara Eftekharnejad, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Syracuse University.

“There probably needs to be better planning, because we're starting to see more extreme weather events across the country,'' she said, whether it's severe cold in Texas or the intense heat wave in California last year that fueled deadly wildfires.

Better forecasting — both short-term and long-term — would help avoid catastrophic failures such as the current outages in Texas and other states, as would large-scale storage systems that can supply electricity when demand spikes and a greater diversity of power sources, Eftekharnejad and other experts said.

Climate change also is hurting military readiness. Damage from a 2018 hurricane at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida and 2019 flooding at Nebraska’s Offutt Air Force Base, for example, led the Pentagon to send service members as far away as Britain to train.

Another 2018 hurricane that hit North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune, home to one-third of the U.S. Marine Corps’ capability, caused enough damage to degrade training overall, senior U.S. military authorities concluded.

Hardening military installations against worsening natural disasters will cost trillions. But it has to be done, said Joan VanDervort, a former longtime Defense Department climate expert now with the Center for Climate and Security think tank. “We have eyes overseas that are looking at our vulnerability and seeing how we respond. ... There are enemies out there that will certainly take advantage of it.”

Michael Craig, an assistant professor of energy systems at the University of Michigan, said the events in California and Texas show that “what we have now is not going to do it in the face of climate change. It's only going to get worse from here.''

The disaster in Texas and other states “is a reminder that our nation’s critical infrastructure is vulnerable to extreme weather events and we can no longer turn a blind eye to the resiliency investments needed to protect it,'' said Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, who met with Biden at the White House last week.

“The cost associated with addressing climate change and improving our infrastructure’s resilience is always going to be less than the cost of rebuilding or failing to act,'' Carper said.

Meanwhile, federal regulators are looking into the operations of the bulk-power system during the severe winter storm that affected states from Louisiana to Minnesota.

In Texas, where wind power is a growing source of electricity, the wind turbines generally are not equipped to withstand extended low temperatures, as they are in Iowa and other cold-weather states. Modifying the turbines slightly to withstand freezing temperatures is one step needed to confront climate change, said Roy McCann, professor of electrical engineering at the University of Arkansas.

While some Republican politicians, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, have tried to pin blame on wind and solar power for the outages, traditional thermal power plants, which rely mostly on natural gas, provide the bulk of power in the state and were the larger problem.

“The entire system was overwhelmed,” said Joshua Rhodes, a research associate on energy issues at the University of Texas.

___

Knickmeyer reported from Oklahoma City.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Business, AP Business - Corporate News, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
More deadly storms coming so prepare better, experts say
The deadly winter storms that knocked out power for millions in Texas and other states exceeded the worst-case scenarios of many U.S. utilities
6:28PM ( 5 minutes ago )
UN chief urges global plan to reverse unfair vaccine access
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is sharply criticizing the “wildly uneven and unfair” distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, saying 10 countries have administered 75 percent of vaccinations and demanding a global effort to get all people in every nation vaccinated as soon as possible
6:25PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Colorado judge maintains charges for Dane accused in fire
A judge has decided against dropping criminal charges against a mentally ill Danish man accused of starting a large Colorado wildfire in 2018 that burned 149 homes
6:23PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Power outages linger for millions as another icy storm looms
Utility crews are racing to restore power to nearly 3.4 million utility customers around the U.S. who are still without electricity in the aftermath of a winter storm
6:02PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Houston furniture store offers shelter after winter storm
Hundreds of people have sought shelter from the winter storm that has left much of Houston without power or heat inside an unusual place: a furniture store
5:55PM ( 39 minutes ago )
Rush Limbaugh, ‘voice of American conservatism,’ has died
Rush Limbaugh, the talk radio host who became the voice of American conservatism, has died
5:52PM ( 41 minutes ago )
AP National News
US govt seizes over 10M phony N95 masks in COVID-19 probe
Federal agents have seized more than 10 million fake N95 masks in recent weeks
3:40PM ( 2 hours ago )
US govt seizes roughly 10M phony N95 masks in COVID-19 probe
Federal agents have seized roughly 10 million fake N95 masks in recent weeks
3:04PM ( 3 hours ago )
Former Trump casino where stars played goes out with a bang
A spot on the Atlantic City Boardwalk where movie stars, athletes and rock stars used to party and a future president honed his instincts for bravado and hype has been reduced to a dusty pile of rubble
2:24PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online National News
EXPLAINER: Why the power grid failed in Texas and beyond
The power outages tormenting Texas and other states are exposing weaknesses in an electricity system designed when the weather’s seasonal shifts were more consistent and predictable
5:49PM ( 44 minutes ago )
The Latest: Denver mayor gets ethics pass on pandemic trip
The Denver Board of Ethics has unanimously dismissed a complaint that was filed after the city's mayor flew to Texas for Thanksgiving despite urging Denver's residents to avoid holiday travel because of the coronavirus pandemic
5:46PM ( 48 minutes ago )
The Latest: Thousands remain without water, power in US
Leaders in Austin and the Houston area are asking residents to stop dripping water from their faucets because of a drop in water pressure
5:36PM ( 57 minutes ago )
AP Business
The Latest:
The White House says drugmaker Johnson & Johnson has just a “few million” doses of its COVID-19 vaccine in inventory ready to be distributed, should the Food and Drug Administration grant it emergency approval
12:28PM ( 6 hours ago )
A joke, a jab: South Africa starts vaccinating with leader
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa was among the first in his country to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, effectively joining an observational study because the Johnson & Johnson vaccine he was given is not yet authorized for general use anywhere in the world
10:45AM ( 7 hours ago )
US retail sales jumps 5.3%, thanks to $600 stimulus checks
The $600 stimulus checks got Americans shopping again
10:32AM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Business - Corporate News
Fed officials expressed concerns in over slowing economy
Federal Reserve officials were convinced last month that the U.S. economy and job growth had slowed as coronavirus cases surged across the country
3:34PM ( 3 hours ago )
US charges North Korean computer programmers in global hacks
The Justice Department has charged three North Korean computer programmers in a broad range of global and destructive hacks, including targeting banks and a movie studio
3:10PM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Toronto official wants to extend restrictions
Canada's largest city is asking the province of Ontario to extend a lockdown order for at least two more weeks instead of having it expire as planned on Monday
2:59PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
100 million Americans brace for more cold, ice and snow
Another winter storm front is blowing through the nation's midsection, where power grids haven't adjusted for the wild weather swings that come with climate change
10:29AM ( 8 hours ago )
Texas blackouts fuel false claims about renewable energy
Conservative commentators on Tuesday have falsely claimed that wind turbines and solar energy were primarily to blame for power outages across Texas as the power grid buckled
10:05AM ( 8 hours ago )
U.S. industrial production climbes 0.9% in January
American industry expanded in January for the fourth straight month but has not returned to pre-pandemic levels
9:28AM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Business - Utilities
UN chief urges global plan to reverse unfair vaccine access
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is sharply criticizing the “wildly uneven and unfair” distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, saying 10 countries have administered 75 percent of vaccinations and demanding a global effort to get all people in every nation vaccinated as soon as possible
6:25PM ( 8 minutes ago )
Colorado judge maintains charges for Dane accused in fire
A judge has decided against dropping criminal charges against a mentally ill Danish man accused of starting a large Colorado wildfire in 2018 that burned 149 homes
6:23PM ( 11 minutes ago )
New round of icy weather hits frigid Deep South
Parts of the frigid Deep South are still getting a new round of snow and ice, and thousands of people are without power
6:21PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Fulton County elections director remains in job for now
The elections director in Georgia’s most populous county remains in his job for now
6:15PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Harassment cases revive worries of racism at Boston College
Students are demanding a stronger response from Boston College after two recent cases in which white students were accused of harassing Black and Hispanic students
6:08PM ( 25 minutes ago )