Extreme Weather

Extreme weather is severe and unusual weather conditions that deviate significantly from the norm and can cause significant damage, disruption, or danger to human life and the environment. These weather events are often characterized by their intensity, duration, or geographic extent, exceeding the typical range of weather patterns experienced in a particular region.  Each part of the globe is current experiencing effects like these.  Droughts are becoming more common, heatwaves are starting earlier in Europe and lasting for longer, floods and hurricanes are becoming the norm for some places.  Below are a few examples of what we are experiencing and seeing as extreme weather. 

Heatwaves: Prolonged periods of excessively high temperatures, often accompanied by high humidity. Heatwaves can lead to heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and increased stress on ecosystems and infrastructure.  A good example of how heatwaves are becoming more common is the fact that between the year 2000 and 2016, the number of people exposed to heatwaves increased by around 125 million.

Cold waves: Extended periods of extremely low temperatures, usually accompanied by severe wind chills. Cold waves can pose risks to human health, freeze water bodies, damage crops, and strain heating systems.  As the weather across Europe becomes milder, we are also expecting times of extreme cold that will be colder and last longer than usual.  This will have an impact on the population and could lead to a spike in death rates. 

Drought: An extended period of significantly below-average precipitation, resulting in water scarcity, crop damage, reduced agricultural productivity, and ecological stress. Droughts can have long-lasting impacts on ecosystems and socioeconomic systems.  Since 2000 the number and frequency of droughts have increased by nearly 1/3.  The United Nations research now shows  that nearly 2.3 billion people around the world are currently facing water stress.

Floods: Rapid or prolonged accumulation of water over normally dry land, often caused by heavy rainfall, rapid snowmelt, or dam failures. Floods can damage infrastructure, cause loss of life, destroy crops, and lead to the displacement of communities.  Recent studies have shown that flooding and heavy rains have risen by 50% worldwide in a decade. Global floods and extreme rainfall events have surged by more than 50% this decade and are now occurring at a rate four times higher than in 1980.

Hurricanes and typhoons: Large, rotating storms characterized by strong winds, heavy rainfall, and storm surges. These tropical cyclones can cause widespread devastation, including flooding, infrastructure damage, and loss of life.  Since 1980, we are seeing an increase in the number of hurricanes and typhoons. Not only the number of these weather events are increasing, but the frequency too. 

Tornadoes:  Are a violently rotating columns of air that extend from a thunderstorm to the ground. Tornadoes can cause significant destruction, demolishing buildings, uprooting trees, and endangering lives.  As the climate change impact increases, the likelihood of more tornadoes and the impact of them increases too. 

Severe thunderstorms: Intense storms characterized by lightning, heavy rain, strong winds, hail, and occasionally tornadoes. They can result in property damage, power outages, and localised flooding.

Blizzards: Severe winter storms characterized by strong winds, heavy snowfall, and reduced visibility. Blizzards can lead to road closures, disrupt transportation, and pose dangers to human safety.

Extreme weather events are often associated with climate change, as certain types of extreme weather may become more frequent or intense due to global warming and other factors. These events can have far-reaching impacts on communities, economies, and the environment, emphasizing the need for preparedness, adaptation, and mitigation strategies.

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