A new comprehensive report offers details on how the increasing numbers of extreme weather events are affecting air and water quality, challenging the ability of health care facilities to respond to community needs, compromising food and water supplies, exacerbating existing illnesses and disparities, and threatening to overwhelm people emotionally.
While no community is immune, Eastern North Carolina will be particularly hard hit. The report predicts a 400 percent to 500 percent increase in the number of weeks with risks of very large fires. The hottest days of the year will be 4 degrees to 5 degrees hotter, while precipitation will increase by 5 percent, with the wettest days seeing increase of at least 10 percent more precipitation.
Extreme weather patterns, such as those experienced in 2015, had a tremendous effect on low-lying coastal communities such as Morehead City. These areas experienced a huge increase in flooding, which led to severe stormwater drainage and transportation problems. Increased heavy precipitation will increase runoff from Eastern North Carolina’s hog and chicken farms and fields, contaminating drinking water supplies and coastal recreation and fishing areas, and the damp heat will encourage mold. The favorable conditions for mosquitoes will increase incidence of vector-borne diseases like West Nile virus.