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How climate change is already impacting the Philly region

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Earth Day 2021 is a day to bring awareness and encourage action to help protect the environment.

Video Transcript

- Earth Day 2021 is next Thursday. It's a day to bring awareness and encourage action to help protect the environment. The biggest environmental issue facing our planet now is climate change, and our area is already being impacted. Cecily Tynan explains.

CECILY TYNAN: I'm in Darby, a borough in Delaware County. Look around, this isn't a place you'd expect to see a great concern for climate change. But it is, because like many neighborhoods around here Darby is beside a Creek. A waterway that overflows again and again, especially when tropical systems arrive. Hurricane Irene, Superstorm Sandy, more recently Isaias, all put this area under water. As well as the eastward section of Philadelphia, about four miles away near the airport.

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- What you're looking at our live pictures of 82nd and Linburg in Southwest Philadelphia. You can see that part of this block is completely submerged under water. Now, investigators believe that this was caused by the flooding of nearby Darby Creek during the torrential downpours that we had throughout the morning and midday. The fire department has made multiple water rescues.

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CECILY TYNAN: Warmer oceans produce more intense hurricanes, not only impacting the coast but creating devastating inland flooding. When creeks rise in many cases the water has no place else to go put into homes.

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- My house is flooded. My whole living room. Water is coming through the backyard. Water's coming through the living room. It's going up to my table.

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CECILY TYNAN: Experts also point to a disparity in the effects of climate change. Derby for example, has twice the national poverty rate. Many low income neighborhoods where housing is cheaper, lie in floodplains and the floods have become more intense. Seven of the top 10 biggest floods for Darby and nearby Chester Creek, have occurred during the past 20 years.

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- I got 9 foot. I get 8 foot, I got 7 foot, I got 6 foot. Last year, I got 2 foot. The year before that, I got 2 foot. And '14 I got 7 foot.

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CECILY TYNAN: For victims of our increasing extreme weather it's become an issue of environmental justice.

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- I will not be back here. Definitely not be back here. I would wish anybody to live here with that Creek back there.

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CECILY TYNAN: The trend is very clear. Average seasonal temperatures from 1970 to now in Philadelphia show warming at the rate of 2 and 1/2 degrees in spring, summer, and fall. But winters by far are warming the fastest, with nearly 5 degrees over the past 50 years. Our winters are warmer with a lot of rain and ice storms, as well as blockbuster snowstorms. Four of our top 10 biggest snowstorms hit during the past 20 years.

National Geographic projections indicate that if current trends continue, by the 2070s Philadelphia will feel more like Northeast Arkansas in terms of temperature and precipitation patterns. Average maximum winter temperatures will climb from 41 to 49 degrees. Average maximum summer temperatures, they'll jump from 84 to 93 degrees. And this is a staggering forecast. Extreme heat that means days above 95 degrees would rise from an average of 6 and 1/2 now to as many as 52 in the 2070s. Cecily Tynan, Channel 6 Action News.

- And you can join Cecily and other ABC meteorologists for Our America, Climate of Hope. It's Sunday at 1:00 PM on 6 ABC. In partnership with National Geographic, they take a deep dive into the environmental challenges we face today, and share stories, inspiration, and innovation toward a better future. Viewers can also stream the special on the 6 ABC app on any of our streaming platforms.