“This summer has seen a rising number of “compound events,” disasters occurring simultaneously or hitting one after another, according to climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe. In some cases, one event might accelerate another. A heat wave, drought, and wildfire can conceivably all hit the same area, for example, and even raise the risks of flooding if a storm finally comes, because the ground is too parched to absorb the influx of water.
And there may be worse to come. Disaster season — or at least, what we’ve historically thought of as disaster season — is hardly over yet. Summer and fall are typically prime times for extremes, but this year we also have El Niño, the natural cycle when Pacific waters reach higher-than-average temperatures, which is just starting to ramp up. This is why meteorologists expect an extraordinary fall to follow the unprecedented summer, likely filled with active hurricanes and warmer weather through the winter.
With El Niño amplifying the effects of climate change, what we can expect from seasons is rapidly changing. Instead of a singular type of disaster any given region must prepare for, but places all over the world can expect multiple events at once. That means our traditional idea of disaster season no longer holds. What we now have is an extended practically year-round calendar of disasters, which often all hit at once.”