Weathering Tomorrow: Houston's top impacts from climate change by the year 2050

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Thursday, August 24, 2023
Weathering Tomorrow: Top climate risks for southeast Texas
For this part of the Weathering Tomorrow project, we explain more about the extreme weather in southeast Texas we could face in the future.

As the Earth's climate continues to change, the impact on local weather patterns in southeast Texas will also change. And some of the region's biggest impacts, such as heat and flooding, could be amplified.

For this part of the Weathering Tomorrow project, our data team at ABC News analyzed peer-reviewed data models provided by the First Street Foundation, a nonprofit research group focused on making it easier for the public to understand and act on challenges posed to people's safety, property and life from climate change.

For Houston, extreme heat and flooding are the top two impacts when considering climate change.

Last week, we discussed how dangerous heat will change our lives in the launch of this Weathering Tomorrow initiative. Specifically, the length of heat waves with a heat index over 100 could double by the year 2050. And with the population growing and urban heat islands affecting us with the building, the threat of heat-related illnesses and the price we pay for A/C will both increase.

The other top impact is, of course, flooding. At least half a million homes are at serious risk of flooding between Houston and Galveston alone, though we know flooding can impact everyone regardless of whether you live in a flood plain or not. Especially as the global temperatures rise, this could lead to higher concentrations of water vapor in the air, meaning potentially heavier rainstorms. And with the tropics, those systems have the threats of high winds and a storm surge.

Two other impacts mentioned in this study are fire and wind. The wildfire threat is usually low for this region, except in years like this, where hot and dry conditions have led to a considerable decrease in local drought conditions. Strong winds produced by severe storms can be more localized and random to where those storms develop. The biggest concern for wind damage for this region would be from tropical storms or hurricanes, which we know is never a guarantee every hurricane season.

The ABC Weathering Tomorrow data team has created a website where you can look up those top four climate impacts for your neighborhood! You can find those results here.

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