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Drought and climate change: their combined impact on regional precipitation.

No matter what one’s belief may be regarding the validity of climate change one thing is for certain, we are already feeling its impacts in various forms.  Perhaps the most relevant and immediate impact of a warming planet has been the recent drop in precipitation levels in some regions of the globe.

 

Drought

Drought (Photo credit: Bert Kaufmann)

After three consecutive years of below average rainfall, California is experiencing a dry season that some scientists say has been magnified by the recent changes in the global climate, which also include a rising sea-level, heavier than normal rainfalls, warm spells in normally cold areas, massive storm systems and either extreme heat or cold depending on global proximity and season.   What we seem to be observing is an amplification of already occurring, extreme weather events.  As the planet continues to warm via greenhouse gas/carbon emissions, we can only expect that storms will be stronger and more destructive, floods will be more widespread and common, and droughts will last longer and almost certainly, severely effect local communities water supplies, as well as business in general.

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Midwest/Chicago area winter thaw highlights snowmelt as impetus for water intrusion:

Chicago, IL and most of the Midwest are currently experiencing a mid-winter thaw that has resulted in flooded buildings and basements throughout the region.  The unseasonably warm air that pushed through the area over the past two days has created a new risk for building owners and managers in the form of snowmelt.

Chicago, IL saw 33.5” of snowfall in January and another 19.1” so far in February of 2014*.  Most of this snow has been piled high around homes, buildings, driveways and walkways as it accumulated.  These large amounts of snow have now melted almost all at once and the ground below cannot absorb the excessive runoff.  Instead, the water has pooled alongside buildings and streets, flooding basements and compromising drainage systems.

Snowmelt water has the potential to intrude into your building(s) which could result in flooding, structural damage, rot and even mold infestation to your property.  Today’s heavy rainfall has added urgency to the issue by accelerating the rate of snowmelt, which in turn has added more water to overwhelmed and in many cases already flooded storm drainage systems.

If you have sustained damages as a result of snowmelt or water intrusion, coverage may be available in your property or flood insurance policies.  It is crucial at this juncture that you understand your policy, its coverage’s and its limits.  Your insurance company may owe you money.  Our expert claims consultants here at Risk Worldwide can help.  Please do not hesitate to contact us today at (312) 291-7576.

 

*Snowfall data taken from NOAA Climatological Data for Chicago, IL


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