Roadway heatwaves

Extreme weather from heat waves to flooding is becoming more common – and deadly – as the climate changes. Cities are responding in different ways.

For example, a heatwave in the 1990s caused more than 700 deaths in Chicago. In response the city launched awareness campaigns about the dangers of heat. And it designated libraries and other public buildings as cooling centers when the heat becomes dangerous.

Kunkel: “Very intense heat waves do occur and sometimes these northern cities are more vulnerable than southern cities simply because they’re not a day-to-day occurrence, but rather sporadic, and the population is not necessarily acclimated to the most extreme events that can occur in those cities.”

That’s Kenneth Kunkel of the North Carolina Institute for Climate Studies.

He says coastal cities are updating their stormwater and sewer systems to cope with water from increasingly heavy rains and rising seas. This protects both infrastructure and people.

Kunkel: “People can die in floods. And it does happen in flash flood events.”

So as the climate changes, preparing for extreme weather will be critical to keeping city residents safe.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Image graphic: Created by David McCarthy.

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