Extreme weather

The big picture

Earth's climate went off the rails in 2021, reports show
Earth's climate went off the rails in 2021, reports show

It may have been only the sixth-warmest year, but extreme events dominated much of the planet in 2021.

Updated Jan 15, 2022 - Energy & Environment
U.S. had its second-highest total of billion dollar climate disasters in 2021

A total of 20 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters killed at least 688 people last year.

Jan 10, 2022 - Energy & Environment
Climate changes linked to Colorado's fire disaster

The urban firestorm could not have happened without a unique combination of climate factors.

Updated Dec 31, 2021 - Science
9 feet of snow wallops California mountains as brutal cold invades U.S.

Wind chills as cold as minus-50 degrees are forecast for some areas.

Dec 28, 2021 - Energy & Environment
U.S. records most hurricane-force wind reports in single day

The storm battered the Plains and Midwest and affected millions from New Mexico to Michigan.

Updated Dec 16, 2021 - Energy & Environment
Historic wind storm spawns tornadoes, causes widespread power outages

Wind gusts above 100 mph have affected millions, knocking out power.

Updated Dec 16, 2021 - Science

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Biden administration unveils plan to fight wildfires

Crews work among burned materials from the Dixie fire in Northern California last year. Photo: Ty O'Neil/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Department of Agriculture on Tuesday unveiled a 10-year plan to combat the kind of catastrophic wildfires that have devastated parts of the West in recent years.

Driving the news: Climate change, as well as overgrown forests and an increasing number of homes in areas where nature and urban life meet, have led to a "full-blown wildfire and forest health crisis," the strategy document notes.

Updated Jan 18, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.

Updated Jan 17, 2022 - Science

Volcanic eruption in Tonga caused "significant" damage

This satellite image of the eruption on Jan. 15 taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency and released by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). Photo: NICT via AP

Significant damage has been reported in Tonga following an undersea volcanic eruption on Saturday, which covered the Pacific nation in ash and cut off communication lines.

Driving the news: The eruption triggered tsunami warnings across Tonga's islands and in other regions, including the West Coast of the U.S. and New Zealand, which were later lifted.

Updated Jan 15, 2022 - Science

Tsunami advisory issued for U.S. West Coast after Tonga volcano erupts

This satellite image taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite, and released by the agency, shows an undersea volcano eruption on Jan. 15. Photo: Japan Meteorology Agency via AP

An undersea volcanic eruption near the Pacific nation of Tonga triggered a tsunami warning across the islands and for some parts of Japan on Saturday, AP reports.

The big picture: Tsunami advisories have also been issued for the West Coast of the United States — spanning from the Oregon and California border to the California and Mexico border — and Hawaii, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

In photos: 2021's devastating climate disasters

Firefighters work on a wildfire in the Sequoia National Forest near Johnsondale, Calif., in September 2021. Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images

Climate disasters in 2021 affected millions of lives, caused billions of dollars in economic loss across the world and brought into stark reality the perils of higher temperatures and climate change in general.

The big picture: Early data has ranked 2021 as the sixth warmest year on record. Climatologists have warned that increased surface temperatures make floods, droughts, heat and cold waves, wildfires and tropical storms and hurricanes more common and intense.

The last 7 years have been Earth's 7 hottest

Map showing 2021 temperature departures from the 1981-2010 average. (Copernicus Climate Change Service/ECMWF)

The past seven years have been the seven hottest on record, according to the European Union's Copernicus Climate Change Service, which released new global temperature data this morning.

Why it matters: The data shows in vivid detail that, even though 2021 was relatively cool compared to other recent years, it still ranked as the fifth warmest year and continued a trend driven by ever-growing amounts of greenhouse gases in the air.

Lower 48 states likely had hottest December on record

Expand chart
Data: NOAA; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

The Lower 48 states likely had their hottest December on record, new data shows, with numerous locations in the Central States, South and East breaking previous benchmarks by large margins.

Why it matters: Winter is the fastest-warming season in much of the U.S., with widespread impacts for snow sports, drought and fire weather risks.

Texas' official death toll from last year's winter storm rises to 246

Icicles hang off the State Highway 195 sign on Feb. 18 in Killeen, Texas. Photo: Joe Raedle via Getty Images

Texas has added 36 more deaths to the official death toll from the winter storm that swept across the state in February, bringing the total number of lives lost to 246.

Why it matters: The storm left millions without power as people faced single-digit temperatures and sub-zero wind chill.

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