Environmental Report Hints at a Challenging Year for Extreme Weather in Florida Thanks to Climate Change

Toby Hazlewood

Are longer hurricane seasons likely?

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A January report suggests that Florida could be in for another crazy year for its environment and climate in 2022, carrying on where 2021 left off.

The effects of climate change compounded with population growth in the sunshine state as Americans migrate to Florida following the pandemic, could combine to mean a greater number of extreme events if predictions originating from the Earth Observatory come true.

Florida's citizens are used to extreme weather, and hurricane season is part of the annual calendar. Nonetheless, 2021 was the second time in 2 years and the third since 2005 that the naming of hurricanes made it into the Greek alphabet.

More storms that are more serious?

There were 21 named storms in 2021 including Category 4 Hurricane Ida around August 29 which killed an estimated 95 people in seven states over three to four days.

The year also finished with an unseasonal tornado in late December which caused minimal damage but was still notable for occurring at an unusual time of year.

Predictions suggest that if climate change continues on its current trajectory, hurricanes affecting the east of the USA could continue to be more prevalent and potentially worsen too, lingering for longer and causing more loss of life and damage to cities and towns in their paths.

Human and financial costs of extreme weather

Memories are still fresh of the storms of December 10 and 11 which saw unusually vicious late-season tornadoes that struck various states including Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee and Kentucky which suffered the worst of the damage. The EF4 tornado was the deadliest December tornado on record.

Winds reached 190 miles per hour and there have been 89 confirmed deaths due to the tornado. Insurers estimate the bill for damage caused to have reached $105 billion.

A consequence of global warming and climate change?

Climate scientists claim that the greater instances of storms provides further evidence of serious climate change. It suggests a pressing need to take action to prevent further damage to the environment, and to halt a worsening situation.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been more measured, but have stated that warmer winters will make winter tornadoes more common in future.

Rising sea levels are an effect of climate change which are more significant to Florida too.

As part of his proposed budget for 2022 and beyond, Governor Ron DeSantis has proposed funding of $276 million over the next three years to fund 76 different projects to improve drainage and increase the height of sea walls across the state.

The governor recognizes that regardless of whether individuals choose to believe in climate change and its knock-on effects (such as rising sea levels), there are consequences to low-lying areas of Florida if it isn't dealt with adequately.

Whether the hurricane season extends, or involves more violent storms remains to be seen. Floridians can only hope that the measures being introduced to counter effects of climate change and a spirit of preparedness help to counter the effects of whatever the environment may bring.

What do you think about climate change? Do you see evidence of it unfolding around Florida and do you think the states leadership and the federal government are doing enough? Let me know in the comments section below.

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