Updated Jun 14, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Extreme weather slams the U.S., from flooding to fires

Image of a raging river and collapsing road in Yellowstone National Park.
Photo of a raging river and eroding road in Yellowstone National Park on June 13, 2022. Phoo: National Park Service

Extreme weather events, likely worsened by climate change, slammed the U.S. on Monday and will continue through this week.

The big picture: A rare June atmospheric river event that made landfall in the Pacific Northwest over the weekend has led to some of the worst flash flooding on record in Yellowstone National Park.

Meanwhile… Wildfires erupted in Arizona and California on Monday, forcing evacuations, as extreme drought conditions combined with high winds to create extreme fire behavior.

  • One eerie video taken of smoke pouring out of the Pipeline Fire in Arizona reveals the complex flow of air helping to propel the flames amid powerful winds gusting to 50 miles per hour.
  • A webcam that exists to spot fires caught a terrifying glimpse of that fire's tall flames, which could be seen from miles away.
  • Elevated to critical fire weather threat conditions will continue in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado on Tuesday.

Threat level: Then there is the heat wave. About a third of the U.S. population is under heat warnings and advisories today for triple-digit-high temperatures, including Chicago, Minneapolis, Memphis, Indianapolis and Raleigh, according to the National Weather Service.

  • High temperatures in Chicago will be at or near 100°F, with heat indices climbing into the low triple-digits. This is extreme heat for any time of the year there, but especially this early in the season, National Weather Service forecasters stated.
  • Extreme heat is typically the number one annual weather-related killer in the U.S., and NWS is calling this event "dangerous."
  • Records that fell on Monday included: 103°F in Lincoln, Neb. and Columbia, S.C., 102°F in Austin and 100°F in St. Louis. Remarkably, North Platte, Neb. reached 108°F on Monday, which was a monthly record for that location.
  • Computer model projections show that the heat is likely to shift a bit further east Wednesday before taking up residents in the Central states and High Plains yet again late this week into next week.
  • The heat may give rise to more rounds of severe thunderstorms today, as occurred on Monday when a tornado warning was issued for downtown Chicago, and hundreds of thousands of customers lost power as storms barreled southeastward into Indiana and Ohio.

Context: Heat waves are worsening worldwide as climate change continues, and dozens of records are expected to be set or tied today and tomorrow. In some cases, studies have shown that heat waves are taking place now that would not have otherwise occurred in the absence of human-caused global warming.

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