Every County in New Hampshire had a declared weather-related disaster in 2011

Media Contacts
Jessica O'Hare

Interactive Online Map Shows County-by-County Weather-Related Disaster History

Environment New Hampshire

Conway, NH—After a year that saw many parts of the country hit by scorching heat, devastating wildfires, severe storms and record flooding, a new Environment New Hampshire report documents how global warming could lead to certain extreme. Every New Hampshire county has been hit by at least one federally declared weather-related disaster since 2006. 2011’s Hurricane Irene, which caused the Kancamagus to close in Bartlett, NH, was one of the extreme weather events highlighted in the report.

“Millions of Granite Staters have lived through extreme weather causing extremely big problems for New Hampshire’s economy and our public safety” said Jessica O’Hare, Environment New Hampshire’s advocate. “Given that global warming will likely fuel even more extreme weather, we need to cut dangerous carbon pollution now.”

The new report, entitled In the Path of the Storm: Global Warming, Extreme Weather, and the Impacts of Weather-Related Disasters in the United States, examined county-level weather-related disaster declaration data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for 2006 through 2011 to determine how many Granite Staters live in counties hit by recent weather disasters. The complete county-level data can be viewed through an interactive map available on Environment New Hampshire’s website. The report also details the latest science on the projected influence of global warming on heavy rain and snow; heat, drought and wildfires; and hurricanes and coastal storms.  Finally, the report explores how the damage from even non-extreme weather events could increase due to other impacts of global warming such as sea level rise.

Key findings from the Environment New Hampshire report include:
•    Since 2006, federally declared weather-related disasters affected all 10 New Hampshire counties.
•    Since 2006, Carroll County has experienced six federally declared weather-related disasters. Recent weather-related disasters in New Hampshire included Hurricane Irene and the October 2011 Snow Hurricane.  
•    New Hampshire counties housing 1.3 million people were affected by the storms.  Nationally, the number of disasters inflicting more than $1 billion in damage (at least 14) set an all-time record last year, with total damages from those disasters costing at least $55 billion.
•    Nationally, federally declared weather-related disasters have affected counties housing 242 million people since 2006—or nearly four out of five Americans.  
•    Other research shows that the U.S. has experienced an increase in heavy precipitation events, with the rainiest 1 percent of all storms delivering 20 percent more rain on average at the end of the 20th century than at the beginning. The trend towards extreme precipitation is projected to continue in a warming world, even though higher temperatures and drier summers will likely also increase the risk of drought in between the rainy periods and for certain parts of the country.
•    Other research predicts that hurricanes are expected to become even more intense and bring greater amounts of rainfall in a warming world, even though the number of hurricanes may remain the same or decrease.  

O’Hare noted that global warming is expected to have varying impacts on different types of extreme weather events. While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently concluded that it is “virtually certain” that hot days will become hotter and “likely” that extreme precipitation events will continue to increase worldwide, there is little scientific consensus about the impact of global warming on events such as tornadoes. In addition, every weather event is now a product of a climate system where global warming “loads the dice” for extreme weather, though in different ways for different types of extreme weather.

“Extreme weather is happening, it is causing very serious problems, and global warming increases the likelihood that we’ll see even more extreme weather in the future,” said O’Hare. “Carbon pollution from our power plants, cars and trucks is fueling global warming, and so tackling global warming demands that we cut emissions of carbon pollution from those sources.”

Environment New Hampshire applauded U.S. Senator Shaheen for her continued efforts to hold polluters accountable by rejecting attacks on clean air standards. Congressman Bass and Ayotte also voted to defend smog reducing pollution protections.

“We applaud the Obama administration for the clean car standards they are finalizing, and urge EPA to move ahead with strong carbon pollution standards for coal-fired power plants,” said O’Hare.  “The extreme weather we suffered through in 2011 is a frightening reminder of why we must do everything we can to cut the dangerous carbon pollution that is fueling global warming, and lessen the threat of even worse extreme weather in the future.”

The report was released as opponents of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) are seeking to pull New Hampshire out of RGGI, the first-in-the-nation cap on carbon pollution from the power sector that was established by 10 northeast state governors and which took effect in 2009.

“RGGI is helping New Hampshire meet our environmental and energy challenges by providing investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy, cutting pollution and curbing dependence on fossil fuels,” said O’Hare.  “We cannot let the fossil fuel industry and their allies succeed in eliminating this critical program.”








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