Shasta County, in Northern Central California, is increasingly vulnerable to fire. In response, the Shasta Regional Transportation Agency (with funding from the California Department of Transportation) asked Energetics to help mitigate this growing threat. We examined the vulnerability of the region’s mobility to climate and extreme weather events and, based on the results, prepared an adaptation plan.
Energetics’ senior consultant Chris Gillespie led the vulnerability assessment. He started the project by evaluating projected changes to temperatures and precipitation and how they are expected to affect extreme weather and disasters such as wildfires, flooding, and landslides. Using geospatial models of the region’s mobility infrastructure and climate impacts, Energetics identified six key vulnerabilities and determined how they will shape the region:
- Projections show extreme increases in both wildfire probability and severity over the coming century, including in areas with key transportation infrastructure.
- Evacuation planning does not address key mobility gaps, including those for vulnerable populations and rural areas with limited transportation options.
- Increases in extreme temperature are likely to accelerate wear and tear on roads and vehicles and to impair use of pedestrian, cyclist, and transit systems.
- Projected increases to extreme precipitation are likely to intensify current hazards related to localized flooding and road delays/closures due to snow.
- Flood hazards are likely to increase with extreme precipitation, particularly on uncontrolled streams, and with unknown implications for dams.
- Increases in extreme precipitation and wildfire hazards increase the risk of landslide activity on burned slopes, especially during extreme precipitation events.
For the second project phase, Energetics developed recommendations for mitigating weather-related impacts, focusing especially on policies, plans, and interagency collaboration to facilitate improved evacuation response and efficiency. The adaptation plan also addresses infrastructure protection, operational responses, planning guidelines, and funding opportunities for resilience-building measures. Energetics worked with client staff and regional stakeholders to develop consensus around priorities. Adaptation strategies include heat island mitigation with nature-based solutions, road maintenance operations that mitigate roadside fire hazards, and updates to the emergency operations plan that address evacuation for vulnerable populations.
The project culminated in a report, now available on the Shasta County website, detailing the vulnerabilities and recommended strategies to mitigate those vulnerabilities.