More people have died in California from two weeks of nonstop rain than from wildfires directly in the previous two years, and the downpour is still going on.
In ten counties, at least 19 persons have passed away. Although officials anticipate a boost in that number, it will still be insufficient.
According to Georgia Berkovich, director of public affairs at the Midnight Mission, a long-standing human assistance group in Los Angeles’ Skid Row, those living on the streets may be living on cardboard or in a tent that can’t sustain the cold weather we’re having. At least two members of the Midnight Mission group perished from exposure to the rain, according to Berkovich, but their deaths were not formally connected to the severe weather and are therefore not counted among the official death toll.
The electricity grid in the Golden State has also been severely damaged by the storms, highlighting once more how vulnerable the grid is to the effects of climate change. Since New Year’s Eve, hundreds of thousands of California electrical consumers have had power outages (some numerous times).
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The Los Angeles Times Reported:
According to Ric O Connell, executive director of GridLab, a nonprofit organization specializing in electricity grid reform, this is sort of the new normal and what the climate catastrophe has brought us. According to him, Californian officials and utilities should analyze the system holistically, taking into account cutting-edge techniques and new technologies that can produce more reliable energy supplies even in times of emergency.
The state’s main energy supplier, PG&E, has plans to bury thousands of miles of lines to better guard against wildfires. Experts said this is one of the more expensive choices, but it would also help minimize the risk of strong winds or falling trees. PG&E’s transmission and distribution lines make up only about 10% of the plan’s estimated $15 billion cost. O Connell claimed that it would be financially unsustainable to move all of the state’s power cables underground.
Given the enormous cost projected for damage and recovery from this sequence of winter storms, O Connell suggested that maybe this wasn’t the wisest course of action because it would actually cost trillions of dollars.
In addition to using green energy technology, boosting local battery storage, establishing more independent microgrids, and improving preparations for how the most vulnerable may obtain power when the grid fails, O Connell mentioned several possibilities for backup power that could boost resilience.
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To Delve Farther Further:
Deaths: The Washington Post; Grid: The Los Angeles Times, NPR; Background for Climate Signals:
Change in the atmospheric river, rain instead of snow, and drought
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