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Oregon continues to face extreme weather

Reviewing patterns of the new normal

It’s no mystery that 2020 and 2021 have been astounding years for so many of those around the globe. Living through a global pandemic is no easy feat, but there have also been unignorable environmental changes around the globe as well. Record-breaking high temperatures, wind storms, changes in precipitation and wildfires have all been seen in our backyards. 


“With over a million acres burned and thousands of homes and businesses destroyed, the impacts of last year’s wildfires on communities, jobs, and local economies will last for months and years to come,” said Governor Kate Brown in a press release early this year


Many Oregonians also will remember being evacuated from their homes—or put on notice to evacuate—due to a catastrophic windstorm during Sept. of 2020. The state continued to see the trend of extreme weather this year with record breaking temperatures June 25–8, reaching triple digits at 116°F. 


Brown declared a state of emergency due to the fact that funds had to be distributed to those who lost their homes to assist with shelter, food and basic necessities. Each person was eligible for up to $6,500, and had to be below 200% of the poverty guidelines. Currently, those applications are now closed. 


During the heatwaves, a number of mutual aid organizations worked directly with unhoused people in Portland, including Portland Mutual Aid Network. During the heatwave, the group posted informational graphics and advisories on its social media, such as needed food, water requests and where people could find cooling shelters. 


Two consecutive summers have required state interventions for the safety of people. Considering 96 people died from hyperthermia during the heat dome, the extreme weather is a growing concern.


Currently in the northern region between Canada and Washington, communities are being hit with record-breaking precipitation caused by atmospheric rivers. 


According to the National Weather Service, “atmospheric rivers (ARs) are relatively narrow regions in the atmosphere that are responsible for most of the transport of water vapor from the tropics.” 


While it might be normal for the western U.S. to receive most of its annual precipitation from these atmospheric rivers, “global warming is changing how ARs behave, increasing risks to communities from flooding and landslides and threatening the region’s vital water resources and infrastructure,” stated Climate Signals, a nonprofit organization that provides information on climate change and general climate information. 

Portland itself just experienced an AR during the week of Nov. 10, and, days after, saw 6–10 inches of precipitation. Shortly afterward, a wind advisory was issued, warning Portland citizens of winds travelling at up to 50 mph. While wildfire season is still far off, Oregonians should be prepared for extreme winds and rain to continue throughout the coming months.