Weathering the Storm: Severe Weather Threats

By Emily Arndt on August 10, 2023

It’s time to talk about severe weather and why it’s essential to be prepared for the unexpected.

Severe weather can take many forms, from wildfires and hurricanes to flooding and tornadoes. It's crucial to stay informed and understand the potential risks that this summer's weather events might bring your healthcare facility’s way.

According to The Associated Press, extreme weather events like heavy precipitation, droughts and forest fires are not only becoming more common, they’re becoming more severe.

This is something we can’t take lightly, because in the first half of 2023 alone, natural catastrophes caused $52 billion in insured losses, and healthcare facilities were not immune. Earlier this summer, a tornado ripped off part of the roof of a Pfizer factory in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, likely causing delays in patients getting their medications.

Based on the latest predictions, below are weather events your healthcare facility may experience at the end of this summer and how to help prepare for them.

Forest Fires

Forest fires can happen anywhere in the country—but there are some areas that forecasters have highlighted as particularly susceptible this year. Forest fires are increasing in duration, damage and frequency, partly due to Earth’s temperature rising 0.08 degrees per decade.

  • If you’re on the West Coast, you may have noticed conditions becoming drier and warmer, leading to longer fire seasons and an increase in larger-scale fires. In fact, between 1984 and 2015, forest fires doubled in the western United States. In the west, projections show that an average temperature rise of 1-degree C would increase the typical burned area per year by about 600% in some forest types. Did you know the Earth’s temperature has been rising twice as fast since 1981? That means the temperature will rise by 1-degree C in just 55 years, making way for the whopping 600% projected increase in burned areas.
  • For Southeastern Pennsylvanians and New Jersians, this summer, the National Weather Service declared a “critical” fire danger due to dry conditions. Multiple fires broke out in New Jersey this past spring.
  • There have been “Red Flag Warnings” issued in the Pacific Northwest, such as in Seattle, due to overly-dry vegetation. Parts of Washington and Oregon saw their “hottest and driest May on record.” Snowfall has also dramatically declined, making way for heightened wildfire potential in the region through September.
  • Other areas like Michigan are seeing unusually dry conditions. Michigan and other Midwest states like Ohio and Wisconsin have issued Red Flag Warnings.

To prepare your caregiving facility for potential wildfires, visit Glatfelter’s Severe Weather Resources page below and expand the “wildfires” section to view more content.



Hurricanes are often a cause for concern, with sea levels rising--mostly due to melting ice sheets and glaciers and the expansion of seawater as it warms—meaning more land erosion and increased chance of flooding and storms. Since 1900, sea levels have risen by six inches, and nearly four of those risen inches have occurred since 1970. Warmer oceans mean more fueled storms. The combination of fueled storms and rising sea levels has been devastating. If you’re near a coast, scientists say the most damaging hurricanes now happen three times more often than a century ago, and hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean have doubled since 1980. Hurricanes are also moving more slowly, meaning more damage as they pass.

This summer, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts 12-17 storms in the Atlantic, with 1-4 being major hurricanes.

To prepare for hurricane season, check out Glatfelter’s Severe Weather Resources page on hurricanes, including property mitigation and hurricane preparedness tips.


El Nino

Added to the mix is El Nino, which is a warming of the ocean surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. El Nino comes with further increased temperatures and “supercharged” extreme weather. Depending on where your patients live, they could expect more heatwaves, droughts, wildfires and floods. The states closest to the Pacific Ocean will see the biggest impacts. In some areas, like the northern U.S. and Canada, expect drier and warmer conditions than normal. The last El Nino, which happened from 2014 to 2016, drove record-high global temperatures and left us with 2016 - the hottest year on record.

To help your healthcare institution prepare for El Nino, check out this California police department’s preparedness checklist.


Floods are the most common--and among the most deadly--severe weather events. Severe weather conditions, like increased heavy rainfall and excessive snowmelt, have contributed to floods. Coastal flooding has doubled within decades, and more flooding than typical is occurring in the Mississippi River Valley, the Midwest and Northeast.

This summer, roughly 146 million Americans are at risk of flooding. The National Weather Service has forecasted flooding in the following areas:

  • Major flooding along portions of the Upper Mississippi River
  • Moderate flooding along the Red River in North Dakota
  • Moderate flooding along the James River in South Dakota
  • Widespread flooding throughout California
  • Minor to moderate flooding in the Sierra Nevada, Great Basin, and parts of the Central Rockies higher elevation basins
  • Minor to moderate flooding in portions of the Upper Snake River

To help prepare for potential flooding, view Glatfelter’s Water Damage Prevention and Mitigation planning guide.

Also visit Glatfelter’s Severe Weather Resources page to follow our property mitigation tips and read a blog on flooding.


Here are some additional resources to help prepare your patients for severe weather impacts:

The takeaway for you and your patients is to be ready for anything in this increasingly unstable climate. The consensus is: expect the unexpected. Though this severe weather event list is not exhaustive, we hope that it can serve as a starting point to help you protect your property and, most importantly, people. For more information, check out the NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center, which provides further predictions on other severe weather events, such as tornadoes, wind damage and large hail.






Emily Arndt

Em, a proud cat mom to Margot and Teddy, enjoys learning guitar, the beach, writing, and working on her sarcasm.


The information contained in this blog post is intended for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace expert advice in connection with the topics presented. Glatfelter specifically disclaims any liability for any act or omission by any person or entity in connection with the preparation, use or implementation of plans, principles, concepts or information contained in this publication.

Glatfelter does not make any representation or warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the results obtained by the use, adherence or implementation of the material contained in this publication. The implementation of the plans, principles, concepts or materials contained in this publication is not a guarantee that you will achieve a certain desired result. It is strongly recommended that you consult with a professional advisor, architect or other expert prior to the implementation of plans, principles, concepts or materials contained in this publication.

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