This winter, the Bay Area saw several of the largest storms on record. These storms led to power outages, evacuations, closure of parts of the 101, snow on Page Mill Road, and flooding of the entrance to the M-A PAC. These, and other extreme weather events, will become increasingly common and destructive as climate change disrupts typical weather patterns.
The M-A Chronicle surveyed M-A students about how they’ve been impacted by extreme weather over the past few years. Out of the 62 respondents, all but two said that they had been impacted by power outages, flooding, heat waves, wildfires, drought, or other extreme weather. Their answers indicate that, while climate change may seem like a distant issue, it is already impacting our daily lives. Here are some of their responses:
How have you been impacted by power outages due to the recent storms?
It’s been hard to stay connected to folks, and we worry about being able to eat because our food goes bad when the fridge shuts off.
We went without warm water for two days, and had to spend a lot of money on replacing food.
We were unable to charge any devices for about three days, and our heat didn't work.
During the power outage, we had to live with a gas stove and cook food with that, and live with candles and flashlights, and no internet too.
My house had no power for four days. Luckily, we were out of town so we were fine. However, all of our food went bad and we had to get rid of everything.
I haven’t been affected that badly, but a tree fell on my yard; I really liked that tree.
How have you been impacted by flooding due to the recent storms?
Our backyard flooded from the river, our garage and office flooded, we have to remodel the office, the freezer in our garage stopped working, and we had to redo the landscape of our backyard.
Our street completely flooded.
Our basement flooded, and we had to take a lot of shoes and clothes out to dry.
One of my family friends set up a pump system at the sides of their house to keep water from creeping into it.
I had a sports competition one weekend where I had to drive up to Cal Berkeley and there were several times where we thought we were going to spin out.
How have you been impacted by heat waves last summer or in previous years?
I’ve literally had people faint because of the heat—it’s harder to go out in the hot weather, and it’s really hard to stay cool. Back when teachers had to keep windows and doors open for COVID reasons, it was basically impossible to keep a classroom cooled.
We usually use fans and open windows, and my asthma usually starts to affect me.
Many times it's too hot to go outside. My grandma can't really go outside when we are in a heat wave because it can be damaging to her health.
We have had to stay inside and use air conditioning. There have been power outages before as well.
The heat gets pretty unbearable at times and it can also feel inescapable—no amount of AC could help. I can’t say that I know anyone personally who suffered from a heat stroke, but it still makes the summer a bit less enjoyable.
My grandparents and some of my friends don't have AC in their homes, so they occasionally came over to my house to escape the heat.
How have you been impacted by wildfires or wildfire smoke?
My summer camp burned down in the 2017 Tubbs Fire which was very hard to deal with because I have been going there my whole childhood.
We had to pack up our bags because there was a fire seven miles from our house in 2020.
We have had to stay indoors for days on end and be careful about what air we allow into our house. I’ve also known many people with asthma who have had to wear masks to keep the ash and smoke from getting into their lungs and causing problems.
Some family friends had to evacuate their house due to fire warnings.
My school was canceled due to poor air quality and my grandparents had to come down to stay with us because they were so close [to the fire].
Last summer we were supposed to go to a cabin in the mountains, but it got burned; it was a friend's cabin.
It’s scary to go outside and to exercise outside because of the smoke, not to mention it’s triggered people’s asthma and gotten ash on the ground.
It was very smoky, and we packed ‘go-bags’ in case we had to evacuate.
How have you been impacted by the drought?
Water prices have increased and we conserve it.
Having to restrict our water usage and seeing the water lines on reservoirs going down is really depressing.
Our plants die.
We have to be more careful with water usage, but have not been impacted greatly except that the lakes we typically go to have a lower water level.
How have you been impacted by other extreme weather events or natural disasters?
I have family in Puerto Rico, and they have been hit pretty hard, especially in recent years from the hurricanes, and we can't visit because of the hurricanes.
A tree almost hit our car because of a really bad storm a couple years ago.
Wind storms have blown trees over in our neighborhood which have knocked out power lines and destroyed people's properties, so it is scary that the same may happen to us.
The recent storms have left my house without power and flooded the back yard and garage, horribly!