Eugene is already experiencing the impacts of climate change with hotter temperatures, drought, wildfire smoke, and less mountain snow. Climate studies by Oregon State University’s Climate Impacts Research Consortium (formerly known as Oregon Climate Change Research Institute) and Oregon Health Authority outline what Eugeneans should expect to see in the future. Dry months will be hotter and drier with increased wildfires, and wet months will have more rain and flooding with less snowpack. Weather will be more extreme overall, and as the climate and environment changes populations will increase in areas like ours as people move north and inland to milder conditions.
According to Climate Central, the Eugene area can expect that average summer temperatures to increase from 79°F to be comparable to Chino, California (near Los Angeles) with an average summer temperature of 88.9°F by 2100. By 2040, the region should anticipate a 400-500% increase in the number of acres burned annually and summer flows in the Willamette River and other waterways reduced by 40-60%.
Temperatures will be 3-5°F higher on average during the wet season by 2100, causing precipitation to fall as rain instead of snow more often. Snowpack in the Cascades is expected to be non-existent by 2050, removing a major regional water storage mechanism. Rain will flow into streams in real time, leaving the area more vulnerable to flooding.
Other expected changes include new disease patterns, population growth due to the relatively mild climate of this area compared to other places in the world, and the conversion of our forests to types of vegetation compatible with the warmer climate.