A look back on 2021, Extreme Weather Edition


  From New York to Californiaworries over the effects of increasing extreme weather have become reality. While the percentage of extreme weather events have been on the rise in the past decade in the United States, 2021 seemed to be an especially disastrous year. From record heat to flash floods2021 saw seemly every natural disaster imaginable.  

   Shortly after ringing in the new year, historic freezing temperatures swept across Texas with lows into the single digits. Temperatures fell so low that much of Texas infrastructurewhich was only designed to withstand mild winters, failed. Most notably, power grids collapsed and left many without heat or electricity, including in the cities of Houston and Dallas 

   In summer 2021record heat was felt in much of the Pacific Northwest. Extreme temperatures into the 100’s were recorded in Seattle and PortlandRecords shattered day after day. On record the city of Seattle only has 5 days where temperatures have reached triple digits, three of them happened in June. On June 28th Seattle shattered its previous record with a high of 108 degrees. Because summers arusually mildmany homes in the PNW lack insulation and air conditioning. Heatstroke was a major concern for the elderly, young and others who could not find a place to regulate their body temperature 

   August 2021 saw the second most damaging storm to ever hit the US. Hurricane Ida dumped torrential rain and caused more than 96 billion in damage, including property, buildings and moreApprox. 96 lives were lost. In New York, some bottom level apartments flooded as a result of not only the amount of rain, but the unprecedented speed at which it fell. 

  In December uncharacteristic tornados hit many parts of the southern United States. Kentucky suffered the worst of the damage, and the greatest loss of lifeapproximately 76 people. The town of Mayfield was almost completely flatteneda particularly sad event with its occurrence so close to the winter holidays. 

   Finally, in the week after Christmas, our home state of Washington was blanked in inches of fresh snow, during a rare deep freeze where highs did not top the 20s for several days in a row.  Many homeowners were snowed in due to the hilly terrain found in most parts of the state and inexperience with driving in wintery weatherWashington only owns a small fleet of designated snowplows leading many roads uncleared for serval days, drawing criticism from some residentsprimarily those who had lived in other places better equipped for snow and other frozen conditions. However,  many Washingtonians, especially children, found joy in the beauty of a frozen winter wonderland and enjoyed spending time outdoors with family and friends