NWS Program Aims To Get Ahead Of Climate Change Fueled By Severe Weather
Millions of dollars are being given to a National Weather Service program aimed at protecting future towns and cities from the effects of severe weather made worse by climate change.
The Southern Climate Impact Planning Program or SCIPP has been given $2.3 million to be spent over the next three years to work with towns across the state of Oklahoma and the surrounding states to help storm proof homes buildings and public works to guard against stronger storms.
SCIPP is one of 11 around the country working to change the way cities think about protecting people from climate change. While Oklahomans are no strangers to severe weather or severe weather preparations, many municipalities aren’t thinking long term about the impacts of climate change. Experts say storms will become increasingly more erratic and severe some even predicting tornado damages to triple by 2050.
While they say it's difficult to be specific, scientists agree climate change and a growing population in the state mean people need to start preparing now for storms that may be decades away.
“How can we help design our communities to be safer so there are fewer impacts?” SCIPP Director Mark Shafer said. “Fewer impacts, flooding, road closures, fewer properties that are damaged. Designing building that can withstand the winds and things like that.”
Most of the grant money given to SCIPP will go to getting the program's "simple planning tool" into the hands of city officials across the region. The “tool” is more of a packet which explains the research being done and the precautions that should be taken to mitigate future damage.
Those same experts hope to get those packets distributed sooner rather than later as damage totals continue to rise. The estimated costs of last year's severe storm and drought seasons topped $4 billion for Oklahoma’s region, according to recent figures from the National Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration, without damages from Hurricane Harvey included. Experts said 2018 was an unusually light year for damages.