Heavy Weather: How Climate Destruction Harms Middle - Center for ...

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Heavy Weather: How Climate Destruction Harms Middle - Center for ...

Winter storms inflict direct and indirect costs on already cash-strapped state andlocal governments, and these costs increase dramatically in years with heavierthan-averagesnowstorms. In addition, the American Highway Users Alliancefound that state economies lose up to $700 million for each day of shutdownsfrom winter storms. Costs include lost wages, lost sales and sales tax revenue, andsnow-related business closures. 99To make matters worse, this snowpack, combined with above-average springprecipitation, resulted in significant flooding (previously described) across theNorthern Plains and the Mississippi and Ohio River Valleys in late spring 2011. 100A National Wildlife Federation report authored by climate scientist AmandaStaudt and two other scientists describes climate change’s impact on winterweather as “seemingly peculiar,” 101 because it leads to heavier yet less predictableprecipitation events. This “peculiarity” was felt in the last few years, which broughtseveral unusually heavy snowstorms.Large, unpredictable snowstorms aren’t the only wintertime symptom of a warmingclimate, however. While big storms can arrive unexpectedly, winter seasonsoverall have been increasingly milder as wintertime temperatures increase, particularlyacross the northern part of the United States. 102This seasonal variability has huge implications for outdoor recreation and tourismindustries. Americans spend more on snow sports ($53 billion) than they doon hunting and fishing combined ($40.3 billion), according to an analysis by theOutdoor Industry Association. 103 Ski resorts and other outdoor recreation companiesneed a long, consistent snow season to make a profit.The 2011-12 ski season was the worst in 20 years due to an average snowfall that was41 percent lower than the previous winter season. Five out of every six ski resortsnationwide had fewer visitors than the previous winter season as well—The DenverPost reported ski resort visitors across the country declined by 15.7 percent. Also as aresult of the lower snowfall, half of the country’s resorts opened late and closed early.The average number of days that resorts were open fell 7.5 percent. 104The Post indicated that ski operators hope that “2011-12 will remain the worst foranother 20 years” and that the following year will be better. National Oceanic andAtmospheric Administration officials, however, predict that the 2012-13 winterseason could be another warm one, in the Midwest and West, as the current17 Center for American Progress | Heavy Weather: How Climate Destruction Harms Middle- and Lower-Income Americans

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