Your home against climate change? A new site offers risk forecasts for the next 30 years

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Nearly two-thirds of Riverside properties are expected to be threatened by wildfires as climate change worsens over the next 30 years.

Los Angeles and Anaheim are most likely to be hit by drought during this time, while residents of San Bernardino face the highest risk of extreme heat among major cities in Southern California as the planet continues to warm up.

These projections are part of a new database from Berkeley-based ClimateCheck Inc.. The venture – a partnership of experts in data, climate science and real estate – aims to build understanding of the effects of the global climate crisis by quantifying the potential risks posed to specific properties. , cities and states, and then share those ratings with the public.

Among other things, the data shows that people and homes in California will be at higher risk of harm from heat waves, drought and weather-related fires through at least 2050.

But the data also offers detailed and specific risk assessments. Residents can enter an address on the company’s website and get a score, on a scale of 1 to 100, that describes and measures the potential for various climate-related risks for that property.

Real estate companies such as Redfin are recover this data, and the company now includes ClimateCheck Risk Rating scores along with traditional housing market information, such as local school quality and neighborhood walkability, for its property listings.

“A home is the biggest financial investment most of us will ever make,” Redfin spokeswoman Angela Cherry said. “Who doesn’t want to go into this with their eyes wide open, understanding all the possible risks?”

Statewide ClimateCheck Risk Scores are also available for all of the lower 48 states, with some interesting points of comparison for California. And, starting October 1, data from more than 300 cities across the country will go live.

Southern California News Group took a look at data from cities in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. The reports show wide disparities in risk, even between neighboring cities, and they offer advice for preventing and adapting to climate change.

Empower residents

Climate change has been seen as a global problem, seen through the prism of large-scale natural disasters such as melting ice caps. It’s only recently that this problem has been seen as a practical problem, with climate change now linked to everything from wildfires wiping out homes to heat waves that are increasing. hospitalizations and deaths.

Assessing climate risk and using it in a practical way is not entirely new. Major real estate companies and other companies have been tracking climate data and using it to make investment decisions for quite some time, said Annie Preston, data science manager at ClimateCheck. In fact, the primary focus of his business is to serve these corporate clients, with options to purchase climate risk reports in bulk or to have their experts monitor risk on a portfolio of properties.

But company founder Cal Inman also wanted to make climate information available, free of charge, to the average resident and business owner. And Inman wanted to communicate this information in a way that would allow people to see how their climate risks compare to similar risks faced by other communities.

To achieve this, ClimateCheck aggregates current and historical data from a variety of sources. Its experts — which include a UCLA climatologist, a water expert from Cal State Sacramento and a former Zillow executive, among others — then apply the latest climate models for each risk area to predict how potential risks, such as the number of extremely hot days or the duration and severity of droughts, are expected to evolve over the coming decades.

The goal, Preston said, is to help people make informed choices about where to live or settle, and better prepare for the challenges that climate change will create. The company also hopes its predictions will be used by local governments when making decisions on issues such as disaster planning and where to allow new homes to be built.

Ultimately, Preston said, the hope is that everyone will be motivated to take action to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

One of the ways they try to do this is to come up with long-term risk projections for each property based on two different scenarios, one based on how the climate might change if greenhouse gases greenhouses are not reduced and the other on what might happen if greenhouse gases are stabilized through radical policy changes.

For example, if greenhouse gases continue to rise at the current rate, residents of historic Corona could see 35 days a year with temperatures above 98.5 degrees by 2060. But if climate action is adopted, the number of days of dangerous heat falls. at 28.

A home in the Bixby Knolls neighborhood of Long Beach faces an 11% higher water stress score by 2060 if greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. And a home in Orange County’s Silverado Canyon, which has a fire danger score of 96, will see 17 days a year with extreme fire danger versus 15 days if substantial changes are made.

Although they are often asked how this information might affect insurance rates, Preston said they have not yet partnered with insurance companies. She said there still seems to be some reluctance in this area to make decisions based on projections, despite broad consensus among most scientists on the trends and risks of global warming.

Risks vary greatly

As climate change worsens, we can expect to see more climate migration as people are forced to move due to drought, floods or fires. Increasingly, Preston said, his company is hearing from people who are concerned about climate issues and have a simple question: where should I live?

Of the California cities analyzed so far by ClimateCheck, the highest risks are for properties in Los Angeles.

Although the largest city in the state did not rank at the top of any category, it scored 84 out of 100 for drought risk compared to a statewide score of 33, and it shows above-average storm danger, with 27% of buildings in the city at risk of flooding. Also, in Los Angeles, the long-term climate risks related to fires and oppressive heat are significant. In a typical year between 1985 and 2005, for example, residents of Los Angeles experienced about eight days a year that were hotter than 92.7 degrees; by 2050, this figure is expected to increase to 27.

Conditions are only slightly less risky in Anaheim, Orange County’s largest city. Data shows that over the next few decades, nearly one-third (29%) of Anaheim’s buildings will be exposed to drought, heat, fires and storms.

In San Bernardino, the biggest weather hazard is the heat. Between 1985 and 2005, temperatures in the city exceeded 102.5 degrees on around eight days a year. But by 2050, the city is expected to experience well over a month of days above that temperature.

Statewide, long-term climate risk is relatively low in Bakersfield. The Kern County town had the lowest overall risk among the towns analyzed by Climate Check, with the lowest scores in the storm, fire and flood risk categories.

San Francisco had the lowest heat risk, while Sacramento had the lowest drought risk.

Sacramento, however, had the highest flood risk. Fresno tops the heat hazard category, while San Francisco faces the highest storm hazard, San Diego the highest drought hazard, and San Jose the highest fire hazard.

But for California as a whole, despite our reputation for catastrophic wildfires, the chances of your home or business actually burning down are lower than in 10 other states, including Utah, Idaho and Colorado. Preston said this is because homes in these locations are more likely to be much closer to wilderness areas. In terms of lowest fire risk, Washington, DC and Rhode Island win the prize.

But in terms of drought, California is ranked the 10th riskiest country, after states like Arizona and Wyoming. The lowest drought risk is in Mississippi and Illinois.

California ranks 32nd for heat risk, with high humidity states such as Florida and Louisiana topping the list.

To learn more and find risk scores for your own property, go to ClimateCheck.com.

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