Preparing for Climate Change

While we continue our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we must also prepare our community for climate change impacts that are here now and anticipated to worsen in the future. The most significant changes projected for the Pacific Northwest due to climate change include the following: 

  • Sea Level Rise – increase in sea level
  • Temperature – increase in average and minimum temperatures, and the frequency and duration of extreme heat events
  • Precipitation – wetter winters, drier summers, and more extreme precipitation events
  • Wildfires - increased risk of wildfires and wildfire smoke exposure
  • Mountain Snowpack – less snowpack and shifts in the timing of stream flow

According to the 2019 Sea Level Rise Assessment (PDF) for Bainbridge Island, the most likely projections from the best available science indicate that relative to the year 2000, Bainbridge Island will experience one foot of sea level rise by the year 2060.

Extreme heat events are also a key concern for our community. In June and August 2021, the City opened the Senior Community Center as a cooling center for the first time ever in response to excessive heat warnings. Air conditioning and water were available for visitors, and BI Ride and Island Volunteer Caregivers provided rides to the Center as needed. 

Wildfires typically occur during the warmer, drier summer months. Over 674,000 acres were burned by wildfires in Washington in 2021. Climate researchers predict that number will continue to rise as warmer winters reduce mountain snowpack, and hotter summers dry foliage more quickly, setting the stage for wildfire. 

Wildfire smoke can impact our local air quality and cause serious health problems, especially for children, the elderly, and people with sensitive immune systems. Plan ahead for wildfire smoke: make a filter fan to filter out the small particles that are common in wildfire or wood smoke. Check out this guide from the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency to make your own air filter at home with a box fan and a furnace filter. 

  1. Preparing for king tides

King tides bring unusually high-water levels, and they can cause local tidal flooding. Over time, sea level rise is raising the height of tidal systems and average daily water levels are rising along with the oceans. As a result, high tides are reaching higher and extending further inland than in the past. King tides preview how sea level rise will affect coastal places. In the future, the water level reached now during a king tide will be the water level reached at high tide on an average day. 

Flooding from king tides can obstruct access to roadways. If possible, move vehicles to higher ground before the king tides begin and wash your vehicle down with fresh water after driving through salt water. Elevate anything at home that could float away in the water and cause water quality degradation, such as paint cans, automotive supplies, lawn chemicals, etc. 

December 2022 king tide event at Manitou Beach Drive. Dec 2022 King Tide at Manitou Beach Drive

For more information, please visit the City's Local Hazards page and view this February 14, 2023 "Report on Recent Climate-Related Flooding Impacts on Public Infrastructure" with images from the December 2022 king tide event on the Island. 

Additionally, follow these safety precautions: 

  • Do not walk through flood water if possible. It is a health hazard. 
  • If you do need to walk through flood waters, follow good hygiene practices and wash your hands, clothes, and pets afterwards. 
  • Do not drive through flooded areas - it is dangerous and can damage your vehicle. Find an alternative route. Remember: Turn Around, Don’t Drown. 
  • Boaters should be aware that high tides cause lower clearance under bridges - check the tide before leaving the dock. 

Preparedness Resources

Supplies to Help Prepare for Localized Flooding 

This information is meant to serve as a resource only. The City does not endorse these vendors/manufacturers – they are listed only for reference.

  1. Preparing for sea level rise
  1. Solar and Battery Storage at Disaster Hubs