North Carolina is wilting. On 60 days — two-thirds of the summer — Raleigh-Durham International Airport recorded above-average temperatures, according to Weather Underground. In the Triangle, 17 of those days have topped 95-plus. This summer is still cooler than 2010, when the airport set a record for the most days of 90 or above, and 2011, when records fell for the most consecutive days of 100 or higher temperatures.
These trends could be a dress rehearsal for the end of the century, when a 90-degree day might seem, well, brisk. So how should you dress for the Year 2100? Or more seriously, how should local governments prepare to meet the challenges of climate change?
In North Carolina, the Department of Health and Human Services released a Climate and Health Profile document that details several dystopian outcomes of climate change, some of them already occurring:
- Water quantity (Transylvania County, which usually receives 100 inches of rain a year, is in a drought) or too much rain, which can flood swine waste lagoons and damage the environment)
- Water quality (harmful algae blooms that can make swimmers sick)
- Mosquito-born diseases, such as Zika (36 travel-related cases have been reported in N.C. this summer)
- Heat-related illnesses
- Mental health issues
- Increased ultra-violet radiation, which can lead to skin cancer
Poor air quality, particularly in regards to ozone, which can trigger or worsen heart and lung problemsAt NOAA’s U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit, you can plug in a city/county and state and then view projected temperature and rain trends through 2100. The graphs show historical data since 1950, plus scenarios if we as a planet immediately stabilize the amount of greenhouse gas emissions (warmer but livable in short sleeves), or if we continue the path we’re on (ideal if you’re a saguaro cactus).
In the latter scheme, Rocky Mount, which historically has about 10 days each year above 95 degrees, would have to endure 100 such days, essentially the entire summer. The sea breeze would blow the hot air around in Wilmington, where 97 days of the year the sand would roast your feet. Even Asheville won’t be the cool mountain getaway it is now. Ninety-five degree days are rare there, but by century’s end, the forecast is for 35 days of extreme heat each year.
Tomorrow’s forecast for central North Carolina is in the mid-70s — but Tropical Storm Hermine is headed for the coast.