Extreme Weather and Critical Infrastructure Impacts

Extreme Weather and Critical Infrastructure Impacts

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Capitol Technology University

11301 Springfield Road

Laurel, MD 20708

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Climate trend analysis provides strong evidence of increasing weather threats to all critical infrastructure sectors with lasting effects.

About this event

Sunny Wescott, CISA ISD’s Lead Meteorologist focusing on Extreme Weather Outreach, will present on climate trends, extreme weather events, critical infrastructure threats, and resiliency as increasing weather hazards present national and international risks to stability. Ms. Wescott is considered a subject matter expert for multiple climatological events such as drought, subsidence, wildfires, tropical cyclones, and extreme winter weather events.

According to NOAA, in 2021, the U.S. experienced 20 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters, putting 2021 in second place for the most disasters in a calendar year, behind the record 22 separate billion-dollar events in 2020. Damages from the 2021 disasters totaled approximately $145 billion. Adding the 2021 events to the record that began in 1980, the U.S. has sustained 310 weather and climate disasters where the overall damage costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. The cumulative cost for these 310 events exceeds $2.15 trillion.

So far this year, as of July 11th, according to NOAA there have been 9 weather/climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each to affect the United States. These events included 1 drought event and 8 severe storm events. Overall, these events resulted in the deaths of 8 people and had significant economic effects on the areas impacted. The 1980–2021 annual average is 7.7 events (CPI-adjusted); the annual average for the most recent 5 years (2017–2021) is 17.8 events (CPI-adjusted).

The number and cost of weather and climate disasters are increasing in the United States due to a combination of increased exposure, vulnerability, and the fact that climate change is increasing the frequency of some types of extremes that lead to billion-dollar disasters. Given all these compounding hazard risks, there is an increased need to focus on where and how to build and coordination with investments in infrastructure resiliency designed for a 21st century climate.

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