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The Duration of Disasters Is Also Important

It was my "aha" of today.

In recent times I've often wrote about how climate change is already making disasters are more frequent and destructive, and will continue to do so in the future. All true!

What I have not highlighted is the duration of disasters. This is particularly true in climate-related events:

  • Drought
  • Wildfires
  • Crop failures
  • Insect infestations
  • Flooding
  • Sea rise

Our summer months with drought extending into fall and even winter and spring are very common. Those droughts feed months-long wildfires. These heat events also are causing crop failures and opportunities for the spread of insects and diseases. Cattle herds and ranchers are being physically and financially impacted.

Recently, I highlighted in this blog two long-term flooding events, one in Pakistan and the other in Florida. These are not the quick rise and fall of flood waters, but weeks or even month-long events. A few years back, parts of North Dakota had flood waters extending for months on end.

So, when thinking climate change's impacts on disasters, we need to be thinking severity, frequency and duration as all being considerations.
Eric Holdeman is a contributing writer for Emergency Management magazine and is the former director of the King County, Wash., Office of Emergency Management.