Extreme weather

The big picture

Exclusive: FEMA braces for COVID-infected hurricane season

"We're doing a lot of things that are not necessarily in any playbook that has existed," the head of FEMA told Axios.

May 3, 2020 - Politics & Policy
Mapped: Global temperatures since 1880

There is virtually no such thing as a cooler than average year on Earth anymore.

Updated Jun 7, 2018 - Energy & Environment
Here's every volcano that has erupted since Krakatoa

From Krakatoa to Kilauea, all the eruptions since 1883.

May 31, 2018 - Science

All Extreme weather stories

Updated Sep 17, 2020 - Science

Hundreds rescued as deadly Tropical Depression Sally sweeps Gulf Coast

A street flooded by Tropical Storm Sally in Pensacola, Florida, on Wednesday. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

"Catastrophic" flooding from Tropical Depression Sally spilled inland across eastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia on Wednesday, bringing peak winds down to 45 mph winds, per the National Hurricane Center.

Why it matters: The mayor of Orange Beach, Ala., said one person died in the storm and hundreds of others have been rescued, per AP. Sally made landfall as a Category 2 hurricane near Gulf Shores, before later being downgraded to a tropical storm and later a depression. But the NHC warned late Wednesday it's "still causing torrential rains over eastern Alabama and western Georgia."

Updated Sep 17, 2020 - Science

In photos: Historic wildfires rage across the U.S. West

A woman who lost her home at a trailer park surrounded by burned cars and properties destroyed in the Almeda Fire in Talent, Oregon, on Sept. 16. Photo: Paula Bronstein/AFP via Getty Images

79 large wildfires are burning across the U.S. West, mostly in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho, per a Bureau of Land Management statement Wednesday.

The big picture: The mega-fires have killed at least 35 people and burned some 5 million acres in Oregon, Washington and California, where air quality is among the worst in the world. Smoke from the blazes has been affecting East Coast skies this week. It's also been spotted some 5,000 miles away in Europe.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
Sep 16, 2020 - Health

West Coast wildfires heighten coronavirus risk

Photo: Getty Images

The wildfires raging in the West are obviously horrendous on their own, but they're also raising the risk of further coronavirus spread, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Between the lines: It's harder for people to take appropriate coronavirus precautions when they're being forced from their homes, or when the air quality is as bad as it is.

Hurricane Sally makes landfall in Alabama with "life-threatening storm surge"

A driver navigates along a flooded road as the outer bands of Hurricane Sally come ashore in Bayou La Batre, Alabama, on Tuesday. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Hurricane Sally made landfall near Gulf Shores, Alabama, as a Category 2 storm on Wednesday morning, packing maximum sustained winds were 105 mph.

What's happening: "Historic and catastrophic flooding is unfolding along and just inland of the coast, from Tallahassee, Florida, to Mobile Bay, Alabama," the National Hurricane Center said, as the storm's eyewall was moving across the coast.

Portland has world's worst air quality as West Coast fires raze 5 million acres

An aerial view of structures destroyed by wildfire and others spared by fire retardant in Talent, Oregon. Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images

Portland, Oregon, recorded the poorest air quality in the world Tuesday, per IQ Air, as the West Coast wildfires burn across some 5 million acres.

Why it matters: The mega-fires have charred 3,154,107 acres in California, over 1 million in Oregon and more than 807,000 in Washington amid hazardous air conditions. Seattle has the world's third-worst air quality and Los Angeles the seventh, according to IQ Air. The blazes have killed at least 35 people and displaced tens of thousands. Thousands of structures have been destroyed.

Go deeper: In photos: Historic wildfires rage across the West

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more details on the fires and air quality.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Sep 15, 2020 - Science

Wildfires ignite Trump vs. Biden climate battle

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Getty Images photos: Joshua Roberts and Paul J. Richards/AFP

The devastating West Coast wildfires have, at least for now, put a hot glare on the role of climate change in the 2020 presidential election.

Catch up fast: Joe Biden called President Trump a "climate arsonist" Monday in a speech that argued his dismissal of consensus climate science is a threat to people nationwide.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Sep 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Biden calls Trump a "climate arsonist," warns of wildfire threat to suburbs

Joe Biden on Monday called President Trump a "climate arsonist" and warned that another four years of Trump's policies would expose suburbs to more deadly wildfires.

Why it matters: Biden's speech addressing the record-setting wildfires in the West sought to cast Trump — who rejects consensus climate science — as a threat to the safety and livelihoods of people nationwide, rather than just an environmental issue.

Sep 13, 2020 - Science

Oregon governor: Wildfires are result of climate change and forest mismanagement

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) told CBS News' "Face the Nation" Sunday that the massive fires devastating the West Coast are a result of "decades of mismanagement of our forests in this country" as well as "the failure to tackle climate change."

Why it matters: President Trump has also insisted that the fires were "about forest management," but he's dismissed climate change. There's been a chorus of voices in the West Coast calling Trump out for his climate change policies or lack of.

Sep 13, 2020 - Science

California's "climate apocalypse"

"California is being pushed to extremes," the L.A. Times reports in today's lead story. "And the record heat, fires and pollution all have one thing in common: They were made worse by climate change."

Why it matters: "Their convergence is perhaps the strongest signal yet that the calamity climate scientists have warned of for years isn’t far off in the future; it is here today and can no longer be ignored."

Sep 13, 2020 - Politics & Policy

LA mayor: "Talk to a firefighter if you think that climate change isn't real"

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Sunday rebuked President Trump over his claims that the California wildfires are simply a result of poor forest management, telling CNN's "State of the Union": "This is climate change, and this is an administration that's put its head in the sand."

Why it matters: There's a scientific consensus that climate change and the hotter and drier conditions it brings are among the forces that increase fire risks and severity. President Trump has questioned the existence of human-caused climate change and has started the process of withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement.

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