Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

People on Folsom Lake in Granite Bay, California, U.S., June 16, 2021. Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The prolonged and widespread heat wave in the West, along with the region's increasingly severe drought, is a sign of how climate change has already tilted the odds in favor of such extremes, studies show.

Why it matters: The rapidly growing Southwest, in particular, is also the nation's fastest-warming region. The combination of heat and drought could lead to a repeat, or even eclipse, the severity of 2020's wildfire season in California and other states.

State of play: Temperatures are likely to climb well into the triple digits across most of California through the weekend, and in a half-dozen Western states.

  • Records will keep falling. By the end of this particular heat wave, it's likely that they will tally in the hundreds, with several all-time temperature records tied or broken well before what is typically the hottest time of year.

The other side: While the West is dealing with record heat and drought, the eastern U.S. will see the opposite problem -- too much water, as a tropical depression or possibly a named storm, to be called "Claudette," comes ashore along the Gulf Coast.

By the numbers:

  • Tucson, Arizona, on Thursday set a record daily high temperature of 111°F, which was the sixth straight day with a high temperature above 110°F, tied for the most on record. That milestone is likely to fall on Friday.
  • Phoenix, Arizona, saw a high temperature of 118°F on Thursday, its fifth straight day at or above 110°F.
  • Death Valley, California, hit 128°F on Thursday, a degree short of its all-time record for June.
  • Palm Springs, California, hit 123°F Thursday, tying its all-time temperature record. The city has only reached that sizzling point three other times in recorded history, but they were in the typically hotter months of July and August.
  • Las Vegas reached 116°F on Wednesday, just 1°F shy of tying its all-time warmest temperature on record.
  • Salt Lake City, Billings, Montana, and Laramie, Wyoming, matched their highest temperatures observed at any time of year on Tuesday.

Threat level: The California ISO, which operates the state's electrical grid, is asking residents to conserve power amid expected spikes in demand.

  • The 128°F high temperature Thursday in Death Valley, reached a level never seen prior to June 29, according to Meteo France meteorologist Etienne Kapikian. It was just 1°F shy of the location's hottest temperature on record during June.
  • The National Weather Service is predicting a "critical fire risk" in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado and Utah Friday, with the risk of fires starting in other states due to dry lightning ignitions from thunderstorms that fail to deliver much rain to the parched landscape.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

Context: Human-caused climate change already makes present-day heatwaves about 3°F to 5°F hotter than they otherwise would be, according to climate scientist Michael Wehner of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

  • Numerous studies also tie the ongoing drought in the West to human-caused climate change, both due to increasing temperatures, which enhances evaporation, as well as shifting weather patterns that boost the odds of such events.

The big picture: A study published Thursday in Nature Climate Change found that in the Southwest, there's increasing overlap between extreme heat and very dry days, and that soil moisture conditions during June play a particular important role in this trend.

  • It follows research published last year showing that extreme heat events are getting progressively drier across the Lower 48 states as the climate warms overall. That's bad news for managing wildfires, which thrive during hot, dry and windy days.
  • A study published in late May found that high elevation forests in the West are burning more frequently and severely than they used to, which the researchers attributed in large part to shifting climate conditions.

What to watch: At the same time as brutal heat and drought is affecting the West, the East will be experiencing the opposite problem -- too much water.

A brewing tropical weather system, which may earn the name Tropical Storm Claudette prior to making landfall in coastal Louisiana this weekend, is forecast to dump between 10 and 15 inches or more of rain along the Gulf Coast.

  • Once it makes landfall, the storm will quickly lose any strong winds associated with it, but it could be a prolific rainmaking as it moves northward toward the Mid-Atlantic.
  • Flash flooding is likely on Saturday across Mississippi, parts of Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and extending into North Carolina by Sunday.

Go deeper

Newsom signs $15 billion package to fight climate change

Gov. Gavin Newsom Photo: Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a $15 billion climate package on Thursday as California wildfires threaten more sequoias at Sequoia National Park.

Why it matters: The package is the largest such investment in California history as drought conditions have worsened across the state and led to numerous wildfires. More than 1.9 million acres have burned across the state this year, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, including over 220,000 in the Caldor fire last month.

Updated Sep 22, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on bold climate commitments

On Wednesday, September 22nd, Axios co-founder Mike Allen and energy reporter Ben Geman hosted a virtual conversation on the innovative approaches climate leaders are undertaking to reshape standards for sustainability initiatives in 2022 and beyond, featuring White House national climate adviser Gina McCarthy and Environmental Defense Fund president Fred Krupp.

Gina McCarthy explained the Biden administration’s recent environmental priorities, the importance of mobilizing different communities to fight climate change, and how the White House is incentivizing private industries to reduce their emissions.   

  • On addressing extreme heat problems: "I think everybody’s beginning to understand as the President tours the sites of wildfires and flooding and other really big challenges like drought, there’s this silent killer for climate change that’s called excess heat, that really doesn’t get enough attention."
  • On cross-agency collaboration on climate change at a federal level: “It’s an exciting moment where people across the federal government are working together in ways they have never done before, not just to tackle wildfires and droughts and flooding and heat stress, but also to tackle the challenge of how we motivate our business sector and send them all the signals you would want us to send that shows that President Biden is committed to achieving net zero in 2050, and knows that this decade is a decisive decade.”

Fred Krupp highlighted how companies must be held accountable to pledges to reduce their emissions, how some corporations are breaking with lobby associations to become more vocal about climate change (and others are not), and how he believes debates surrounding the infrastructure bill will play out in the near future. 

  • On how corporate lobbying has fallen short: “Right now, we don’t see enough corporations lobbying on behalf of the climate sections of the reconciliation bill. This bill that’s pending in Congress is our once in a decade opportunity to get something done on climate.” 
  • On public support for the infrastructure bill: “I see an enormous amount of support in the American public for moving ahead with a sort of clean energy economy that are going to create tremendous numbers of jobs, clean the air, make people healthier.” 

Axios VP of Communications Yolanda Brignoni hosted a View from the Top segment with GE’s Chief Sustainability Officer Roger Martella, who discussed how GE is following through on their ESG goals by investing in sustainable energy technologies. 

  • “We create some of the most technically complex and critical technologies the world needs, and we’re focused today on innovating these technologies on a path to decarbonization.” 

Thank you GE for sponsoring this event.

1 hour ago - Health

India crosses 1 billion COVID vaccinations milestone

A health worker inoculates a COVID-19 vaccine dose to a man wearing face mask of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Beawar, India, in September. Photo: Sumit Saraswat/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced Thursday that the country's health workers have now administered more than 1 billion COVID-19 vaccines doses.

Of note: While this is a significant milestone for the country of 1.4 billion, which has been devastated by the coronavirus, only about 30% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated against the virus, per AP. Roughly 75% has received at least one dose.