Climate Risk Areas Initiative News

South Central RISA Recaps Extreme February Weather in New Report

  • 27 April 2021

The Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP), a CPO RISA team, recently produced a summary of the February 2021 winter weather event that severely impacted the south central United States. It was the coldest event to occur in the SCIPP region in over 30 years. The event was marked by prolonged and extreme cold, coupled with wintry precipitation, and caused numerous waterline breaks and millions of power outages, amongst other impacts.

Titled “February 2021: Extreme Cold, Snow, and Ice,” the summary begins with information about the weather pattern and describes records that were broken, the context of the event compared to climatology, and past historic events. The second half of the document describes impacts to various sectors including energy, water, health, infrastructure, the economy, the environment, and society. For example, in Texas, preliminary estimates attribute nearly 200 fatalities to the event and project $200-300 billion in total economic losses, including job loss and business disruption. The summary also provides examples of hazard mitigation successes in the region to encourage stakeholders to reduce their vulnerability for future extreme cold events.

While climatologists and meteorologists may produce scientific journal articles about the mechanisms of the event, this summary with distinct sections for easy navigation was written for a general audience and was published faster than a journal article to meet stakeholder needs.

The document was produced by SCIPP Climate Assessment Specialist Darrian Bertrand and SCIPP Research Associate Simone Speizer.

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Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather.