Extreme weather

The big picture

2020 was an extraordinary year for fires. Expect more like it.

But the "explosion in fire catastrophes that we’ve seen in recent years is not inevitable," top climate scientist says.

Dec 29, 2020 - Science
The "war on nature"

The UN is urging U.S. citizens to do “everything you can” to curb emissions faster.

Dec 2, 2020 - Science
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

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Dec 26, 2020 - Science

More than 57,000 U.S. wildfires scorched 10.3 million acres in 2020

A firefighter hosing flames during the Creek fire in Madera County, California, in September 2020. Photo: Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

More than 57,ooo wildfires have torched roughly 10,357,000 acres — around 16,000 square miles — in the United States to date this year, according to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC).

Why it matters: 2020 was one of the most active fire seasons on record in terms of total number of fires and acres burned, coinciding with drought conditions driven increasingly by climate change across much of the Western U.S., and one of the hottest years on record.

Updated Dec 24, 2020 - Science

Extreme weather arrives on East Coast for Christmas Eve

Santa walking around New York City on Dec. 23. Photo: Noam Galai/Getty Images

A severe storm struck the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast with heavy rains, flooding and high winds on Thursday, disrupting travel and last minute shopping and causing hazardous road conditions.

Why it matters: The storm, which is expected to continue through Christmas Day, comes roughly a week after a massive snowstorm pummeled the region, killing three people and leaving millions under winter weather alerts.

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.

Over 60,000 koalas killed or harmed by Australia's "black summer" fires

A koala and her joey during rehabilitation at Taronga Zoo in Sydney after a bushfire ravaged their habitat in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney in the Australian of New South Wales in January 13. Photo: Cole Bennetts/The Sydney Morning Herald via Getty Images

Australia's "'black summer" bushfires killed, wounded or displaced 143 million mammals — including over 61,000 koalas, per a report published Monday

Why it matters: Koalas in New South Wales and Queensland were in "rapid decline" before last summer's fires ravaged the states, per a statement from Dermot O'Gorman, CEO of WWF-Australia, which commissioned the research. It's "a deeply disturbing number for a species already in trouble," he added.

Updated Nov 29, 2020 - World

Bushfire threatens Sydney homes as record heat wave hits Australia

A helicopter water-bombing a bushfire at Northmead in Sydney, Australia, on Sunday morning local time. Photo: Jenny Evans/Getty Images

Scores of bushfires are threatening parts of Australia during a record heat wave — including an out-of-control blaze that prompted evacuations in Sydney Sunday and another fire ravaging the popular Queensland tourist destination of Fraser Island.

Why it matters: New South Wales' fire chief Shane Fitzsimmons told Channel 9 Sunday it's the "worst day" for fires since last season's deadly "Black Summer" bushfires, when temperature records were broken across Australia — including in Sydney, which reported its hottest November night this weekend.

Updated Nov 17, 2020 - Science

Most powerful Atlantic hurricane of 2020 makes landfall in Nicaragua

Photo: NOAA

Hurricane Iota made landfall in Nicaragua late Monday as an "extremely dangerous" Category 4 storm, packing maximum sustained winds of 155 mph, per the National Hurricane Center.

Why it matters: The storm is the most powerful of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season, with "life-threatening storm surge, catastrophic winds, flash flooding, and landslides expected across portions of Central America," the NHC said.

Updated Nov 12, 2020 - Science

Tropical Storm Eta brings more heavy rains and storm surge to Florida

A cyclist rides through the flooded street during heavy rain and wind as Tropical Storm Eta approaches the south of Florida, in Miami, Florida, for on Monday. Photo: Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images

Tropical Storm Eta was unleashing more strong winds, heavy rains and "dangerous storm surge" over parts of Florida early Thursday, ahead of an expected second landfall in the state, per the National Hurricane Center.

The state of play: Eta was pummeling Florida's west coast overnight after briefly strengthening into a Category 1 hurricane offshore from the state's southwest. Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) tweeted Wednesday evening that FEMA had granted his request for a pre-landfall emergency declaration.

Updated Nov 10, 2020 - Science

Theta becomes 29th named storm in record hurricane season

A satellite image of Subtropical Storm Theta. Photo: National Hurricane Center/Twitter

Subtropical Storm Theta formed in the Northeast Atlantic Monday night, becoming the 29th named storm of the 2020 hurricane season, the National Hurricane Center confirmed.

Why it matters: The formation of Theta, which was some 995 miles southwest of the Azores overnight, breaks the record for the most named storms in a season — set in 2005. The World Meteorological Organization sets 21 alphabetical names for every season (excluding Q,U, X, Y and Z). This is the second time ever it's used all and had to turn to the Greek alphabet.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with further context on the hurricane season.

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