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Climate Minute 'Round 4:' Want to get away?

Climate change is affecting the entire planet, but in very different ways depending on where you look.
Credit: WGRZ

BUFFALO, N.Y. —

Let’s face it, it’s been quite a year and we’re all in need of a getaway. This round of Climate Minute goes on a virtual adventure to some of Western New York’s most-booked vacation destinations: Disney World, Myrtle Beach, Las Vegas and Hawaii. 

The mission: explore the ways that climate change is already affecting these places. What could come in the decades ahead? Watch each episode below to find out.

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By far, the number one vacation spot for Western New Yorkers is Disney World in Orlando, FL. Florida’s weather is a welcome reprieve from a Western New York winter with sunshine, warmth and some may even appreciate the humidity. But those hot and humid days are getting even more so because of climate change. A study from Climate Central projects that central Florida may see an extreme jump in 95 degree days in the next 80 years: from six days to an astounding 127 days.

Disney’s inland location keeps the threat of sea level rise away, but there are plenty of popular beach spots that are already starting to feel the squeeze. One of them is Myrtle Beach, SC. Not only is it a popular vacation spot, it’s the second-fastest growing metro area in the United States. 

By 2100, the sea level may rise another 1 to 4 feet, essentially erasing Myrtle Beach’s current beach area. And that’s on a calm day. An increasing threat for strong tropical systems like Hurricane Florence would severely increase the damage done by rising ocean waters.

Las Vegas may not be the top choice for families, but Western New Yorkers have gone there every year for some “R and R” along with millions of other tourists. But when it comes to climate change, Las Vegas locals will feel the burn far worse than those that come for the casinos and nightlife. 

Extreme heat is the number one weather-related killer in the U.S. and it’s responsible for an average of 44 deaths each year in Las Vegas. Climate models project a 20 percent increase in days with a heat index of at least 105 degrees by the year 2100.

Getting away from the mainland doesn’t get you away from the effects of climate change either. For Hawaii, the impacts of a changing climate are just as diverse as the islands themselves. Increased ocean heat and air temperatures allow for more evaporation and stronger storms. That means heavier rain, stronger winds, higher seas and more destructive storm surge. Hurricane Lane brought all of that to the Big Island in 2018 without even making a direct hit.

What climate science questions do you have? Send them to Heather Waldman at heather.waldman@wgrz.com to keep the conversation going. 

You can also chime in on Twitter and Facebook using #ClimateMinute. Be sure to watch the series in its entirety on the WGRZ YouTube channel.