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2021 was a turbulent one for El Pasos climate & environment

2021 was a turbulent one for El Pasos climate & environment

2021 was a tumultuous year for El Pasos climate and environment

Despite El Paso’s historic winter storm, 2021 is still on track to be the ninth warmest year since 1887.

Climate change is a warming of the average yearly temperature in the region, which means more hot days and hotter night with the last quarter century trending noticeably warmer.

According to National Weather Service records four of El Paso’s five most warm years on record have occurred since 2016, Since 1993, 18 of the 20 warmest years have been recorded.

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The dramatic climate change warming increases storm strength by packing more moisture in warmer air. But it also Reduced sea ice can change the weather at the atmosphere level.This can lead to cold air blanketing throughout the United States.

The winter storm that decimated Texans in February caused hundreds of deaths and billions of dollars in damage. Atmospheric changes destabilize the Polar VortexClimate change may mean that cold snaps are more frequent.

El Paso was not affected by the storm’s brunt, but it was the coldest season of the year, with lows at 14 degrees and highs of 40 degrees. El Pasoans will pay more for gas to reimburse utilities for costs incurred by Winter Storm Uri.

Jason Grzywacz from the National Weather Service office El Paso stated that El Paso was dry after February’s snowfall. The area did not see significant rain until the tail of June.

Grzywacz stated that we received less than half an inch rain in the four-month period.

El Paso wasn’t the only one that was drying out. The snowpack in the mountains of southeastern Colorado, Northern New Mexico was only 40% at its peak in April. The snowmelt is absorbed by hotter, sunbaked earths before it can reach its riverbed. This means that there is less water in the river for wildlife and people downstream.

The capacity of Elephant Butte Reservoir, New Mexico, was only 11%. It held water for Mexico and farmers in Southern New Mexico. Farmers received only fractions of their irrigation water as the river was not running until June, which is months later than in previous years.

Heat and rain

June brought heat. There were 17 days over 100 degrees, including a streak of nine consecutive days with daily highs in the triple digits. This placed children and other vulnerable people at great risk.

June 20 was the hottest day, with a high of 109 degrees. El Paso’s power grid was stressed by the hot conditions and the need to air conditioner, resulting in blackouts at Las Cruces and El Paso. Ciudad Jurez, however, was subject to more severe blackouts. These conditions also caused water losses and food spoilage in Anapra.

June ended with the monsoons, and flooding. El Paso received six inches of rain in June, more than the average annual amount over a period of days. Flood waters remained stagnant for several weeks after the monsoon season of July and August. This created public health risks.

New Mexico and Texas are locked in a long-running legal battle over Rio Grande water. The trial began in October and will continue into the spring 2022.

The region could become more dependent upon diminishing groundwater and will need to find the money to pay for expensive alternatives.

El Paso is still on the frontlines of climate change. Experts are concerned about the impact on regional health. El Pasoans are already spending a lot to build infrastructure to protect future water supplies and prevent flooding from more severe storms.

Although there is concern about the future river levels, experts believe that changing water management, working together across borders, and ending reliance upon fossil fuels can make a difference in the climate future of the Southwest.

Climate change concerns

Global average temperatures have risen by 1 degree Celsius (2° Fahrenheit) since 1880. Climate scientists predict that 1.5 Celsius could be seen in the global temperature if there are no drastic reductions to fossil fuels within the next few years.

From 2000 to 2021, El Paso’s annual temperatures averaged 66.3 degrees Fahrenheit or 19.1 degrees Celsius. This is 3 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the previous century and 1.7 degrees Celsius more than the current period.

August Climate scientists urge global governments to actTo limit greenhouse gases, we must reduce carbon dioxide emissions until they are net zero, and strong rapid reductions for methane which is produced from natural gas extraction.

El Paso Electric still relies on fossil fuels to produce the bulk of its energy. The company reached a settlement in August that will allow it to build an additional natural gas plant in Northeast El Paso, over the objections of environmental groups.

Currently, El Paso Electric Generators66% of its power comes from natural gases, 29% from nuclear power and 5% from wind and solar. The company has pledged to increase solar power to 16% by 2030 and to reduce carbon emissions by 5%. Older gas plants that were built before stricter federal standards can be retired. The company is looking for new opportunities. hydrogen power at Newman 6The future is green with hydrogen production Hydrogen production is currently underway It is extracted using natural gas and emits large amounts of carbon dioxide..

Three-fourths of the worlds emissionsAccording to The Center for Climate and Energy solutions, an independent nonprofit based in Virginia that works to reduce greenhouse gases, these emissions are primarily from the energy industry.

Other environmental concerns

Air quality is another concern in the region. El Paso County was given a failing grade by the Environmental Protection Agency for its air quality. This could have a negative impact on future development and emissions.

Two sewage mains burst on El Pasos Westside in August, causing a new public health problem. The sewage backed up into homes and caused another health problem. El Paso Water determined that the only way to solve the problem was to divert the wastewater from 17,500 people’s toilets, showers, and drains into the Rio Grande.

The Rio Grande carries West El Paso’s untreated sewage downriver on Oct. 13. El Paso Water has diverted approximately 10,000,000 gallons of wastewater per day into the river every day since its Frontera Force pipelines were damaged in August. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

Although the utility attempted to pump the sewage out of the river, there are still questions about the effects on wildlife and ratepayers. Construction on a replacement pipe is complete. Divertissements from the Rio Grande are expected end in January. In December, federal officials wrote to the utility asking for more information on the spillage.

Cover photo: Dec. 14th, contamination in the air obscures the view of the tri-state area. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

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