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Davis, California

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Students, university must be proactive in the face of extreme weather events

 Recent winter storms spark important conversations around climate change preparedness




From flooded roads and homes to downed trees to extended power outages to sinkholes and landslides, California can’t seem to catch a break from the barrage of storms that began after Christmas and is only now letting up. According to CNN, several areas across the state have registered more than half of their average annual rainfall just in the past month, and more locally, Davis has received nine inches of rain in January alone, compared to less than one inch in January of last year.

Californians have experienced heavy rain in the past, but lately, every weather-related headline seems to include the word “historic,” and that’s not likely to change any time soon. One of the effects of climate change warming the atmosphere is that the warmer air can hold more moisture, leading to wetter and more intense storms.

In the long run, of course, we urge you to support climate protection legislation and sustainable initiatives — but in the short run, all that we can do is adapt to the weather coming our way. Being prepared is something that happens on both the large and small scale, from the university prioritizing durable infrastructure and keeping up with maintenance to individual students gathering the supplies necessary to stay safe during a power outage.

Although more than 70 trees fell on campus and various buildings sustained water damage, much of the potential for flooding and power outages was mitigated by pre-storm preparation and hard work by facilities and grounds crews. 

The Editorial Board extends their gratitude to Grounds and Landscape Services workers for clearing green waste and trimming dangerous tree branches, Building Maintenance Services workers for keeping roofs and gutters working, Utilities workers for clearing storm drains and PG&E workers for doing their best to restore power as soon as possible. 

The city of Davis and many residents experienced sporadic power outages during the storms, but central campus retained power due to underground lines that are more protected from weather. Because of this, campus facilities were able to remain open for students. However, much of Davis still employs above-ground power lines that are affected by falling trees, which led to traffic lights being out for days on end and prevented some businesses downtown from opening their doors.

While UC Davis is working on long-term plans such as the Living Landscape Adaptation Plan to adapt to a warmer, drier climate, it would also be beneficial to implement infrastructure that would protect the campus and surrounding areas from heavy rainfall, which is also a result of climate change.

Students and Davis residents can also individually prepare for extreme weather events by creating an emergency plan and staying up to date on the latest information through trusted Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts. If a power outage is likely to occur sometime soon, make sure to fully charge your cell phone and any other devices you might need, and think about building a small emergency kit with items like candles, power charging banks, water, canned food and batteries. For a comprehensive list of ways you can prepare for heavy storms, see the Davis City Facebook page.

During an outage, disconnect electronics in case of damage from electrical surges, keep your refrigerator closed as much as possible and don’t use a gas stove to heat your apartment. Because central campus tends to retain power during widespread outages, UC Davis generally opens up areas like the ARC Ballroom, Shields Library and the Memorial Union as warming and charging centers.

If you are without power for more than 48 hours due to storms, according to the PG&E website, you may be eligible to receive automatic compensation through the Safety Net Program in accordance with the length of the outage.

Long-term sustainable policies are making a difference, and there is hope that the state of the world isn’t just going to be getting worse and worse for the remainder of human existence. Recent news confirms that the ozone layer is healing and is on track to be restored to 1980 levels in the next two to four decades, England is banning some single-use plastics and the new president of Brazil plans to end deforestation in his country. Additionally, scientists recently created a nuclear reaction that generates more energy than it consumes for the first time, research that could eventually create a huge source of clean energy.

But even so, two to four decades is a long time, and it’s a time in which we will most likely be dealing with extreme weather events like the heavy rainstorms that the beginning of this year brought to Davis. We’re going to have to learn to adapt and be prepared, and the university will have to do the same in order to keep students safe and allow our education to continue. 


Written by: The Editorial Board