Top Climate Change Risks: Storm, Fire, Heat

Learn how climate change is affecting people in Washington.
Then, check your local risk for heat, storm, fire, drought, and flood through 2050.

Typical Risks for Someone in Washington

Compared to people in the United States, people in Washington will experience especially increased risks from storm, fire, and heat due to climate change over the next 30 years.

The ClimateCheck Risk Rating is a 1-100 score that measures historical risk and increased exposure to risk with climate change, compared to everywhere in the U.S. (lower 48 states). A rating of 100 means risk is the highest for the U.S., while 1 means the risk is the lowest of anywhere in the U.S. Even with a risk rating of 1, climate change has both localized and large-scale effects that impact everyone on Earth. See how we measure risk.

For fire, the bar estimates the middle 50% of buildings and middle 50% of land area. For heat, drought, and storm, the bars represent the middle 50% of the population.

Climate Risks for Cities in Washington

Of the top cities in Washington, the city with the highest overall risk is Bellingham. The city with the lowest overall risk is Kennewick.

  • For heat, Everett has the lowest risk and Bellingham has the highest risk.
  • For storm, Yakima has the lowest risk and Everett has the highest risk.
  • For drought, Vancouver has the lowest risk and Yakima has the highest risk.
  • For fire, Kennewick has the lowest risk and Spokane has the highest risk.
  • For flood, Yakima has the lowest risk and Olympia has the highest risk.

Comparing Washington and Other States

Among the lower 48 states, Washington's highest ranking is #8 for fire risk.

Utah and Kansas rank highest for fire risk District Of Columbia and Rhode Island rank lowest for fire risk See our fire ranking methodology.

Washington ranks #42 for drought risk.
Highest drought risk: Arizona and Wyoming
Lowest drought risk: Mississippi and Illinois

Washington ranks #48 for heat risk.
Highest heat risk: Florida and Louisiana

Washington ranks #31 for storm risk.
Highest storm risk: New Hampshire and Vermont
Lowest storm risk: Nevada and New Mexico

Heat Risk in Washington with Climate Change

An extremely hot day in Washington depends on your location: 99ºF is extremely hot for Kennewick, while 80ºF is considered extremely hot for Bellingham. This is based on historical maximum temperatures on the top 2% of days in an average year.

The frequency of very hot days is increasing. On average, someone in Washington will experience about 28 extremely hot days in 2050.

A typical person in the U.S. will experience about 43 extremely hot days in 2050.

Storm Risk in Washington with Climate Change

To measure storm risk, we look at the amount of precipitation that falls in storms, and how many times this happens per year. A storm is based on the top 2% of rainiest days per year for a location. Our risk rating is based on the amount of precipitation historically and the relative increase compared to the rest of the United States.

Historically, Everett experienced an average of 1.0 inches of rain about 9 times per year. In 2050, it is projected to experience an average of 1.4 inches of rain about 29 times per year.

Historically, Yakima experienced an average of 0.6 inches of rain about 9 times per year. In 2050, it is projected to experience an average of 0.8 inches of rain about 17 times per year.

Fire Risk in Washington with Climate Change

Locally, fire risk depends on proximity to vegetation, the types of vegetation and other landcover in the area, and topography. On a given day, fire risk is greatly increased in the presence of a red flag warning, when heat, low humidity, and strong winds converge.

How can we prevent and adapt to climate change?

Mitigating climate change—by eliminating our emissions into the atmosphere and reducing our strain on the environment—and adapting to our changing planet are both vital to our well-being.

Understand Risks

Check your address and get a free report describing risks to your property and in your area.

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Protect Homes and Communities

Check our free report for tips on protecting your home from hazards.

Green infrastructure is a category of nature-based solutions for increasing precipitation. Find resources for individuals and municipalities through the EPA's Soak Up the Rain initiative.

Planting trees and vegetation helps reduce extreme heat in urban environments. Cool Pavements can also help urban heat islands. Search the Heat Island Community Actions Database to see what some municipalities have been doing to reduce extreme heat risk.

Read more about building resilience for communies: U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit.

Use the Common Cause tool to find your representatives (federal to local), how to contact them, and information about political contributions and bills they have introduced.

Find Balance

Reducing emissions is necessary–and possible–across the globe and in every part of our society. Learn more with Project Drawdown's introduction to climate solutions.

Estimate your home's carbon footprint with the CoolClimate Calculator. Or, estimate the carbon footprint of your business.