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Your Environment. Your Health.

Application of an extreme winter storm scenario to identify vulnerabilities, mitigation options, and science needs in the Sierra Nevada mountains, USA

Climate Change and Human Health Literature Portal

Author(s):   Albano CM, Dettinger MD, McCarthy MI, Schaller KD, Welborn TL, Cox DA
Year:   2016
Journal:   Natural Hazards. 80 (2): 879-900



In the Sierra Nevada mountains (USA), and geographically similar areas across the globe where human development is expanding, extreme winter storm and flood risks are expected to increase with changing climate, heightening the need for communities to assess risks and better prepare for such events. In this case study, we demonstrate a novel approach to examining extreme winter storm and flood risks. We incorporated high-resolution atmospheric-hydrologic modeling of the ARkStorm extreme winter storm scenario with multiple modes of engagement with practitioners, including a series of facilitated discussions and a tabletop emergency management exercise, to develop a regional assessment of extreme storm vulnerabilities, mitigation options, and science needs in the greater Lake Tahoe region of Northern Nevada and California, USA. Through this process, practitioners discussed issues of concern across all phases of the emergency management life cycle, including preparation, response, recovery, and mitigation. Interruption of transportation, communications, and interagency coordination were among the most pressing concerns, and specific approaches for addressing these issues were identified, including prepositioning resources, diversifying communications systems, and improving coordination among state, tribal, and public utility practitioners. Science needs included expanding real-time monitoring capabilities to improve the precision of meteorological models and enhance situational awareness, assessing vulnerabilities of critical infrastructure, and conducting cost-benefit analyses to assess opportunities to improve both natural and human-made infrastructure to better withstand extreme storms. Our approach and results can be used to support both land use and emergency planning activities aimed toward increasing community resilience to extreme winter storm hazards in mountainous regions.

Resource Description

  • Exposure : What is this?

    weather or climate related pathway by which climate change affects health

    Extreme Weather-Related Event/ Weather-Related Disaster, Precipitation
  • Extreme Weather-Related Event/ Weather-Related Disaster: Flood, Other Extreme Weather-Related Event or Weather-Related Disaster, Specify
  • Extreme Weather Event (other): Extreme Winter Storm
  • Geographic Feature: What is this?

    resource focuses on specific type of geography

    Freshwater, Mountain
  • Geographic Location: What is this?

    resource focuses on specific location

    United States
  • Resource Type: What is this?

    format or standard characteristic of resource

    Research Article
  • Special Topics: What is this?

    related topics that intersect with those captured in other filters

    Adaptation, Communication, Mitigation
  • Adaptation: Vulnerability Assessment, Resilience
  • Communication : Community, Disease Advocacy, or Non-Governmental, Policymaker
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