Pennsylvania 2050 Forecast

This is Dr. Emily Schoerning with AR, and I’d like to say hello to all my friends in Pennsylvania.  We’re going to do a deep dive here that builds on the Northeastern regional forecast.  Just laying it out, Pennsylvania is well-positioned as a destination state by 2050.  I mean, let’s get real.  There’s stuff you’re going to see here you’re not going to love, and like every state, Pennsylvania is facing some challenges with the changes that are coming.  But on the scale of change, where, say, Nevada’s outlook is equivalent to falling in a vat of acid, Pennsylvania is skinning a knee.  You all can handle this.  Let’s get into it.  

            HARDI high variation within the state.  Unfortunately, we’re looking at a complete loss of zone 5.  So we’re looking at the eastern side of the Allegheny, probably looking okay, the forests in that zone 5 undergoing the shift, they’re going to be experiencing some pretty serious stress from that loss of cold.  Maybe this doesn’t seem so good?  This is really good.  Ohio, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, all those states are looking at serious prospects for wildfire in their national forests.  I like looking at this map, I like seeing a future for that big beautiful forest, a future where a whole lot of it can stay healthy and strong.

            You can see that all your biggest population centers are moving up one plant hardiness zone.  If you’re looking for a decent-sized city that will stay the same, right now, we’re got Scranton on our radar as a low-change destination.  We’ll check out if that holds true in a couple of minutes with the summer duration map.  And I’d like to point out that in that zone 6 area that is remaining zone 6, you’ve got plenty of nice small to mid-sized communities, most of them in wooded situation, who should be looking at this map and seeing good news.  Like I talked about with the national forest, all through here, this winter stability is good news for trees.  Worst thing for a highly forested state is to see big winter changes, I’m very happy not to see too much risk here.

            HEAT looking over to the state, again, high variation, but what great overlap in the summer conservation with our zone 6 winter conservation.  Fantastic.  If you overlay those maps in your mind, I gotta say, they’re just about perfect, just where you’d want them to be to preserve ecosystems, preserve familiar landscapes.  You’re going to experience a very unusually low level of climate change in this big double conservation area.  And I know what you might be saying to yourself, it’s because those are mountains, Emily, but let me tell you.  Check out the Tennessee forecast, check out the California or Nevada forecasts.  The mountains do not always hold the cool, and they definitely don’t always hold it in the summer and the winter, but you’ve got a great outlook here.  This is the heart of the strength I highlighted in my Appalachia video, you in northern Pennsylvania, you are in the core of the Appalachia opportunity zone.  I am very excited for you.  All you toughies who’ve been holding out in these mountains, this is your golden hour coming. 

            In terms of urban outlooks, we’re looking a little more like the rest of the country there, although, Scranton, you see, look at your summer outlook, another couple of weeks over 86, not at all a big change for a city of your size, you are looking at some enormous destination potential right there.  Philadelphia, you’ve got the most extreme change outlook of Pennsylvania’s population centers, Pittsburg, with your degree of summer and winter change, you’ll also feel fairly different by 2050, and Harrisburg, although you’ll have a longer summer, the fact that you’re staying squarely in zone 7 will help preserve a lot of your mature plants, you’re looking at just a moderate level of change.  Probably looking at some growth opportunities for you in this outlook.

            So let’s check out what kind of shift in seasonality these summer and winter changes will create.  We’re going to take a minute to talk about fall and spring freeze dates.  page 682.  In Pennsylvania, we are not looking at much change to first fall freeze date, except by Lake Erie and Philadelphia, which are looking at about 2 more weeks of fall by mid-century, two more frost-free weeks.  In the spring, changes are very localized, with spring coming a week or two earlier.  But it doesn’t exactly follow the mountain range, let me show you the map.  You see two shades on that.  The darker one means you’ll experience up to two weeks earlier spring on average by midcentury, the lighter, a week earlier. 

            I imagine that sometimes the other Northeastern states are uppity to you, Pennsylvania, on account of your lack of coastline.  I tell you, it’s good news now.  The many, many challenges the sea is presenting other Northeastern states are definitely worth skipping.  Pennsylvania is in a real sweet spot where it gets the benefits of the Great Lakes and the benefits of elevation, leading to one of the largest good climate conservation areas I have seen in any state in the nation.  Scranton is a decent sized city to be in such a good conservation zone, you don’t see a lot of places with that much existing infrastructure and such a good outlook.  Your cities that are experiencing moderate to large changes, like Pittsburg, on the larger side of the level of change, and Harrison, more moderate, are not looking at levels of change as high as we see in the Southwest, or their level of challenge.  There’s nothing that’s likely to cause mass casualties here, it’s more like the level of change and challenge we see in the cities of some of the northern Midwestern states, such as Springfield, IL, Madison, WI, and Dubuque, IA.  We’re talking about manageable adaptation outcomes. 

Philadelphia, which is looking at a lot of change, a level of change on par with other major east coast cities, does offer a major benefit in its uniqueness.  Let’s think about it.

Pennsylvania only has one major city that is going to need major infrastructure work, and I do mean major work.  But think about New York.  Look at my coastal New York video, we’re looking at catastrophic sea level rise impacts to New York City and Long Island.  Not catastrophic like a wall of water is coming to kill everyone, catastrophic like without absolutely incredible levels of infrastructure spending, literally millions of people are going to need to move.  Big financial problems either way.  In my forecast for Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, you can see the number of cities that are going to need major spending- Rhode Island is going to bear a disproportionately huge cost burden for its size.  Really sad, I’ve got a soft spot for that state.  Massachusetts has a big problem, and that problem’s name is Boston.  The money the state is going to need to pour into Boston is immense.  They’re already on it, but man, Boston is a highly vulnerable city, major major infrastructure very vulnerable to sea level rise. 

            So what I’m saying is, Pennsylvania, you can probably afford to keep Philadelphia up.  And I don’t know how well other Northeastern states can afford to keep up their similarly sized cities.  It’s like, you’ve got one dog that needs kidney medicine, New York’s got five dogs that need kidney medicine.  Philadelphia, even though it’s not going to have a pleasant future climate, pretty hot, long, summers, it’s actually in a position to be a destination city for people moving inland, and who like big city living.  If you make the investments Philadelphia will need, investments in the power grid, investments to avoiding flooding in extreme storms, investments in mass transit, I think Philadelphia will pay off.  High probability of becoming an extremely dynamic urban center.

            Overall, I gotta say.  Pennsylvania, hold on to your hats.  This might be the best forecast I’ve yet had the chance to share.  Not only are you looking great in and of yourself, when you contemplate this future, you can imagine, you will be enjoying that special feeling where you walk into your high school reunion and you find that all the hot kids are… not looking so good, while you maybe didn’t lose any weight or anything, but you’ve held up. 

            You’ve got huge destination potential, and you’ve got lots of great communities in great conservation areas.  Tough communities, that’s what I like to see.  If you’ve got land there, hold on to it.  I would anticipate a lot of people coming inland in the next 10-15 years.  And if you’re in one of those small communities up in that northern third of the state, that great conservation zone.  If you’re in one of those communities that is more like my community, you might not want to grow.  If you don’t wanna grow, you gotta pass some zoning laws now.  Lay out your plan for who you wanna be.  Because you are going to get to choose the shape of your good future for 2050.  And if you check out some of my other forecasts, you will see how lucky you are.  You’re gonna have a lot of choices, and I love it.

This is Dr. Schoerning with AR, signing out.  Please like and subscribe, help get the message out there.  There is hope.  We can prepare for what’s coming.  Let’s get ready.