Climate Change in Virginia
Northern Virginia – In February 2010, a blizzard dumped almost three feet of snow, knocking out power for 30,000 Northern Virginia homes, businesses and schools. The storm, dubbed “Snowmageddon,” was consistent with the recent trend toward heavier rain and snowfall.
Shenandoah Valley – In 2012, Virginia’s peach crop arrived earlier than ever recorded before. As weather events become more unpredictable and severe, farmers are having major problems. Virginia’s burgeoning wine industry is predicted to perish by 2050, as temperatures rise and growing zones shift north.
Norfolk – Residents of coastal neighborhoods in Norfolk are seeing their homes flood more often. The sea level has risen more than a foot over the last 80 years, due to a variety of factors, including ocean waters expanding as they grow warmer.
Eastern Shore – During Hurricane Irene in 2011, 1.2 million homes and businesses in Virginia lost power and many were damaged by fallen trees. At least three Virginians lost their lives to the storm. Climate scientists tell us that warmer ocean temperatures will continue to cause more category 4 and 5 storms.
Roanoke – In February 2013, a downpour of up to 6 inches in parts of New River and Roanoke Valleys caused flooding, evacuations, school closings and swamped cars. According to scientists, warmer air holds more moisture. So on a warmer planet, when it rains, more often it pours.
In addition to the risks to individuals and businesses, climate change also poses threats to our national security, according to the Department of Defense. Severe drought and sea level rise will displace millions of people across the world, destabilizing countries and commerce. Furthermore, Virginia’s own naval base in Hampton Roads is facing billions of dollars in infrastructure retrofits to account for rising seas and more frequent flooding.
There’s still room to slow the effects of climate change but there’s not much time left. Experts say that if we want to avoid catastrophic effects, we have to keep at least 2/3 of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground.