How Climate Change Affects Arizona and
What You Can Do to Be Prepared
While the reason for climate change is still up for debate, multiple studies that have been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals demonstrate that the earth’s temperature has indeed increased by a couple degrees over the last 130 years.
Temperature data showing rapid warming in the past few decades. According to NASA data, 2016 was the warmest year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures.
The 10 warmest years in the 138-year record all have occurred since 2000, with the four warmest years being the four most recent years. Credit: NASA/NOAA
While the rise of a couple of degrees may seem inconsequential, very small changes in the earth’s temperature and atmosphere can make a huge impact on the planet and create a domino effect of weather-related impacts.
NASA explains the effect like this: “Two degrees may sound like a small amount, but it’s an unusual event in our planet’s recent history […] Small changes in temperature correspond to enormous changes in the environment. For example, at the end of the last ice age, when the Northeast United States was covered by more than 3,000 feet of ice, average temperatures were only 5 to 9 degrees cooler than today.”
It is still unclear what all the effects of increased temperatures will be, but many scientists agree that as the ice caps melt and seas rise, coastal flooding and hurricanes will intensify, heat waves will increase and lengthen, precipitation levels will rise,droughts will intensify in certain areas, and growing seasons will lengthen.
As Richard Alley, geologist and Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at Penn State wrote, “The more the climate is forced to change, the more likely it is to hit some unforeseen threshold that can trigger quite fast, surprising and perhaps unpleasant changes.”
This year, all over the United States we have seen many examples of the increases in violent and extreme weather conditions including hurricanes on both coasts, accompanying coastal flooding and tidal surges, unprecedented drought conditions and wildfire activity all over the western United States, increased precipitation and flooding events in the Midwest, and increases in heat waves and higher temperatures.
Here in Arizona, climate changes have resulted in severe drought conditions and an increase in wildfire activity throughout the state. At the same time, the severity of the monsoon season has grown with significant upturns in wind speed and microbursts. These storms have also brought increases in the amount and pace of precipitation during the monsoon storms, resulting in increased damage from flooding and water damage all over the Phoenix metro and beyond.
At Titan Restoration, we have seen the effects of these extreme weather patterns and find ourselves working at full-capacity to meet the needs and demands of these weather-related incidents. In this article, we will explain ways that you can take preventative action to help protect you and your property, and what to do in the case of weather damage or destruction.
1. Inspect Your Property for Hazards
Despite the threats of extreme weather,
there is a lot that each homeowner can
do to minimize damage and even
prevent it in some cases.
Start by performing a thorough investigation of your property.
First look at the foundation and the grading around your house or property. Make sure the dirt and soil are graded to help water run away from the house rather than pooling at the foundation or running onto the patio or doorway.
Remember that heavy precipitation can change the way the dirt and soil stand and you may need to reexamine the grading around your home regularly.
Clean downspouts and gutters can be very effective in moving water out and away from the house’s structure. Make sure they are free from debris and are properly installed.
We were once called to remediate some water damage that was a direct result of poorly installed gutters that ran right into the flashing of the roof, allowing water to seep into the attic, rather than moving it off the roof as it should have.
Trim trees and bushes away from the house. 9 times out of 10, when we are called out to do emergency work on a house with severe roof damage, it is caused by a tree or tree branch falling on the house or being blown over onto the house.
When you plant trees and bushes on your property, don’t just look at it from an aesthetic standpoint. Take the safety of your property into consideration as well. Plan your landscaping with storm safety in mind, keeping trees and large shrubbery away from the house structure. Remove any landscaping that could threaten the structure of your property.
During one monsoon storm this year, a large queen palm was struck by lightning. The 30-foot palm tree was a torch of fire just seconds later, reaching high into the air. Unfortunately, the tree was planted close to my neighbor’s house and the embers and burning fronds lit the house on fire. A few minutes after that lightning strike, their house was engulfed in flames and burning to the ground.
Arizona experiences monsoon seasons every year and they are only increasing in power and magnitude. Keep this in mind when you do your landscaping. Trees and bushes should always be planted well away from the house itself and should be well-trimmed at all times and watered deep.
Many times in Arizona, because of poor watering techniques, tree roots do not go deep into the clay.
They skim along the top levels of the soil to be able to reach the moisture.
This, in turn, makes them susceptible to being uprooted by winds or flash flooding.
The slower and deeper you can water your plants, the longer their roots will sink into the ground and the safer and stronger they will be in a storm.
This can be especially true in years of drought.
In order to survive, the tree’s roots will stay close to the soil surface to be closer to the water sources when they are present. Be aware that when drought conditions exist that it’s important to supplement nature’s water supply with slow, deep waterings.
If you live in areas that are prone to drought and wildfire, clear all the brush and trees and combustibles away from your house. There should be at least a 30 foot cleared barrier between the vegetation and your home, though this area increases dramatically depending on the type of vegetation in the area and the slope of your property. Check with local authorities and follow their recommendations for adequately clearing the land and creating a barrier around your property.
Be vigilant and diligent about checking your property after the storms have passed. Most monsoon storm bring extremely violent winds which can loosen or damage roofing and other building materials as well as damage trees and break branches.
The quicker these damages can be repaired and resolved, the better the chances at avoiding additional damage when the next storm rolls through.
2. Maintenance is the Name of the Game
Another preventative measure you can
take as a home or property owner is to
make maintenance a priority.
This means that you take the steps to regularly clean, check and repair your home and property and the appliances and amenities that are a part of it.
For example, make sure your air conditioner is inspected, cleaned, and serviced regularly.
This includes cleaning off the coils of dust and debris and regularly changing the air filters.
On more than one occasion we have had a call about water damage that was a direct result of clogged air filters.
Especially during monsoon season, these storms can bring a massive influx of dust that can clog your air filter. When this happens, the coils condense and freeze over and the air conditioner stops working. As the temperature goes up, that ice then starts to melt, creating flooding and water damage.
If you have a sump pump, make sure that it is regularly checked and maintained to make sure it is working correctly and that the power supply is backed up. Watch for leaks or blockages and resolve these before heavy rains.
Make sure that you have a good supply of working flashlights and batteries. Extreme weather can knock the power out for hours or days and it’s important to be prepared even in the dark. In some cases, it can be a wise investment to have a generator that can use as a power source when the power is out for an extended period of time.
Clean your pool immediately after a monsoon storm has passed.
The dust and organic material that comes with extreme weather can damage and ruin your pool filters or cause algae to grow and contaminate your pool.
Proper and timely maintenance of your pool will help you avoid costly repairs or cleanup.
Maintain an up-to-date homeowner’s policy to protect you and your property in case of damage from a storm or fire. Consider if flood insurance is a wise investment.
Flood insurance is not covered on a standard home owner’s policy and must be purchased separately. A flood includes any water that has already hit the ground. For example, if your roof is damaged and open to the elements and then rain water enters your attic, that is considered water damage and would be covered by your home owner’s policy.
But, if the rain continued to fall and started to pool in your backyard and then rose and crossed the threshold of your house into your living room, it is no longer water damage but flood damage. The water has hit the ground and then flooded your home, and so it would not be covered under a standard home owner’s policy.
CLEAN AND REMOVE
Maintenance includes keeping your home, yard, and garage free of unnecessary items.
If your garage is full of items you do not regularly use, you may be unable to park your car in the garage, leaving it more susceptible to damage during a storm.
Clean out your garage, remove waste from your yard, and secure any outside furniture or belongings.
If your yard has debris or unsecured furnishings, these can be damaged by dust, rain or hail and can also cause damage if picked up by the wind. Over the years we have seen lawn chairs, barbeques, basketball standards, and even trampolines repositioned by strong winds, causing damage to outside walls, windows, fences, roofs, pools, patios, and cars.
We are always surprised by the power of the wind and water to move heavy items around like they weigh nothing at all. Keeping your yard free of unwanted items and securing outside furniture can go a long way to preventing damage during extreme weather events. .
3. Know Who to Call in an Emergency
First, find someone who can provide emergency services at any time. You need a company with enough experience and success that allows them to employ enough technicians and crews to service all the needs in the area.
When your roof is open to the elements or water is pouring into your property, quick and decisive action is required and time is of the essence. The longer you have to wait for someone to arrive to help, the more damage will result.
There have been cases where restoration companies have been so inundated with calls and simultaneously lacked technicians that they could not arrive until 48 or 72 hours after the damage occurred. By then, if you have water damage, mold has already started to grow. Additionally, building materials become less salvageable the longer they remain wet or exposed to standing water. The drying process needs to begin immediately to mitigate loss.
LICENSED AND INSURED
Make sure your restoration contractor is licensed and insured. Extreme weather events can be a calling card for out-of-town, less-reputable companies to come and take advantage of home and property owners in a desperate situation. They often perform shoddy work or do not complete the job, taking your insurance settlement with them. Hire local companies that are licensed and insured in Arizona.
Information about the quality and professionalism of your contractor is always available. Hire restoration contractors with long and lengthy lists of satisfied customers and glowing reviews. You are trusting them with your property and the way they perform their work matters, both in short-term appearance of your property and the long-term value of your property.
Always looks for someone with a stellar reputation in the way they perform their cleanup and restoration work as well as the way they treat their customers.
Titan Restoration of Arizona has been in business for over two decades and we have an army of technicians and experts that we dispatch 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
We always arrive in a timely manner and immediately assess how we can mitigate your losses and restore your property.
We are proud of our reputation with both home and business owners and with insurance carriers as well. We perform the highest quality of work with integrity and efficiency and are proud of our reputation we have built in the restoration industry in Arizona and throughout the country.
4. Repair and Resolve Damage Quickly
When you have damage from an extreme weather event, it can be overwhelming and confusing.
Sometimes this causes people to delay getting repairs or resolving damage on their property. This will only lead to more problems.
After an extreme weather event, as soon as it is safe to do so, you should arrange to repair and resolve any damage that has occurred on the property. This will mitigate your losses and help you prepare for subsequent storms.
After a storm has rolled through the valley, you see crews with chainsaws and mulchers moving up and down the streets, cleaning and removing uprooted trees and discarding broken branches.
You should do the same on your own property.
If branches or trees are left damaged and exposed they can be dangerous in a subsequent storm. Loose branches and overturned trees can be thrown in heavy winds and cause damage to cars, people, and property. If branches are broken, do not delay in removing them and cleaning up any other storm debris from around your home and property.
As we have already mentioned, after a water loss it is important to get your property, building materials, and furnishings dry as quickly as possible.
Many people erroneously assume that drying will happen naturally once the storm has passed. While it is true that given enough time and without being rewet, things can dry out by themselves, it generally takes much longer than you expect.
It can take many days or even weeks for wood and cement to fully dry.
Meanwhile, water can travel easily through porous materials extending the damage and the moisture to other parts of the structure and creating pockets of condensation. Additionally, if conditions are humid, natural air drying can take even longer and may not ever fully occur.
Professional dryers, fans, and dehumidifiers can speed the drying process and even allow some materials to be salvaged rather than have to be demolished and replaced. In fact, at Titan Restoration we have pioneered an in-place drying technique that can be very effective if started early and allowing home and property owner to avoid excessive demolition.
No matter the extent of your water damage, it is critical to assist and augment natural drying with professional equipment and techniques to speed the entire restoration process and mitigate further losses as much as possible.
Acting quickly after you suffer storm damage can help prevent further damage and loss like mold.
For example, in the case of water damage, the faster building materials can be dried, the less likelihood that mold will grow.
Additionally, many building materials can be salvaged with in-place drying techniques if the water can be removed and drying commences quickly.
Mold can be difficult and labor-intensive to eradicate. It’s significantly easier to treat water damage before the mold is allowed to begin growing.
If your roof was damaged by a weather event, seek professional help in tarping any areas open to the elements.
Obviously, the faster a tarp can be secured, the less water and debris will enter the property.
In one case, a large pine tree fell, with a large portion of the heavy trunk coming through the roof of a home and leaving a huge hole in a bedroom ceiling. Our crews arrived and removed the tree trunk and branches with chainsaws. Once the tree was out of the way, they were able to secure a large tarp to protect the bedroom from further damage while the roof and walls of the room were repaired and restored.
Even if you do not have exposed areas on your roof, if you notice any small leaks or water marks or places where there are loose or missing tiles you should have these examined and repaired as quickly as possible. Any small compromises to the integrity of your roof can leave it vulnerable to further destruction and more significant water damage.
It can be helpful to use a pair of binoculars to inspect your roof from the ground after every storm. If you suspect a problem, have it professionally examined.
5. Seek the Help of an Expert
As paralyzing and overwhelming as storm damage can feel, keep in mind that you do not have to figure this all out by yourself.
There are experts in the restoration industry that have years of experience and have been here with hundreds and thousands of other home and property owners before.
They know exactly what to do to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.
They will help you as you navigate making a claim from your insurance company. They know exactly which techniques will be more effective in removing the water and completely drying out building materials to prevent additional damage or mold growth.
Trust their expertise and ask them all your questions. Hopefully, you have never had to deal with a situation like this ever before. You don’t have to have all the answers or know the next steps. But they do and they will.
Your restoration contractor should always have your best interest at heart. They will understand the stress that storm and weather-related damage can cause and they will help you every step of the way.
Here at Titan Restoration of Arizona we understand that many times we are meeting people on one of the most stressful days of their lives. In some cases, the losses are very significant. We take that responsibility seriously and always try to respond with care and compassion, keeping our customers informed and educated, and helping relieve and mitigate their worry and stress in every way possible.
The Center for Climate and Energy solutions has stated, “One of the most visible consequences of a warming world is an increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events.
The National Climate Assessment finds that the number of heat waves, heavy downpours, and major hurricanes has increased in the United States, and the strength of these events has increased, too.”
Additionally, they go on to say, “Climate change is expected to worsen the frequency, intensity, and impacts of some types of extreme weather events.” It is likely that this will be the case for us here in Arizona as well.
Though the debate about why the climate is warming will continue, it is important to recognize that the warming climate will make an impact on Arizona’s weather patterns and produce more extreme weather events. As it does, it is important for home and property owners to be prepared to be able to take the best preventative steps to protect their property and to know what to do in case of storm damage.
At Titan Restoration, we are always ready to help and assist you when you face any kind of damage to your property.
While future weather events are unknown and unpredictable, our industry-leading knowledge and skills will always be relevant and current. We are prepared and equipped to meet your restoration needs, guide you through the process, and help you get back to normal as quickly as possible.
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