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A view of the Bay Bridge from San Francisco. Photo: Jessica Christian/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

San Francisco's skies were thick with smoke from ongoing wildfires on Wednesday, largely blocking the sun from view amid hazardous air quality across the Bay Area.

The big picture: Roughly 14,000 firefighters are battling 28 major wildfires across California. There have been eight fatalities from wildfires this year and over 2.5 million acres have burned across the state, per Cal Fire.

  • Much of the Bay Area did not have dawn or daylight on Wednesday, Axios' Scott Rosenberg reports from San Francisco.
  • Large pockets of air quality across California, as well as western Oregon, have been deemed "hazardous" by the federal government. Air quality across much of Washington state is currently "unhealthy."
Cars drive along Ygnacio Valley Road in Concord, Calif. Photo: Brittany Hosea-Small/AFP via Getty Images
Jim McVeigh, a custodian, cleans the entrance of Children's Fairyland in Oakland. Photo: Yalonda M. James/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
Pier 14 in San Francisco. Photo: Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
Bejhan Razi observes repairs on lamp post clock in downtown Mill Valley, Calif. Photo: Scott Strazzante/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
Golfers on preview day for the Safeway Open in Napa, Calif. Photo: Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
San Francisco City Hall. Photo: Lea Suzuki/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images
The San Francisco skyline. Photo: Philip Pacheco/Getty Images

Go deeper

Updated Dec 17, 2020 - Science

In photos: Massive snowstorm slams East Coast

The scene in New York City's Times Square Dec. 16. The NWS warns storm totals "may approach two feet across the Poconos of Eastern Pennsylvania and Catskills of southern New York." Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

At least three people have died as a monster snowstorm that's left over 60 million people under winter weather alerts pummels the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

The big picture: The National Weather Service warned the storm would cause "major" travel disruption and power outages. 6.5 inches of snow and sleet fell over New York's Central Park by midnight — exceeding the total for last winter, when 4.8 inches fell. Boston was set to get hit with up to 12 inches of snow by Thursday morning.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 6 hours ago - Technology

A dark view of the future of autonomous weapons

A still from the video "If Human: Kill ( )." Image: Future of Life Institute

A new short film warns of the coming risks posed by the development and proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons.

Why it matters: Drones with the ability to autonomously target and kill without the assistance of a human operator are reportedly already being used on battlefields, and time is running out to craft a global ban of what could be a destabilizing and terrifying new class of weapon.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine — Pfizer could have vaccine data for children under five by end of 2021, CEO says.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.