Extreme weather

The big picture

Exclusive: FEMA braces for COVID-infected hurricane season

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In photos: Deadly wildfires devastate California's wine country

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3 dead and thousands evacuated as Northern California fires explode

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California wine country wildfire prompts evacuations

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In photos: Firefighters battle 75 large blazes across West on first day of fall

Firefighters battling the Bobcat Fire near Cedar Springs in the Angeles National Forest on Sept. 21 in Los Angeles, California. The blaze is the third-largest recorded in the county. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Los Angeles County Fire Department firefighters worked into the night to tackle the massive BobCat Fire before the expected arrival of warmer and drier weather later in the week. The blaze has burned over 112,000 acres and was 17% contained late Tuesday.

The big picture: 75 large wildfires were burning in the U.S. Tuesday, the first day of fall, as cooler weather provided relief to firefighters and improved air quality across the West. The mega-fires have killed at least 36 people and charred more than 5 million acres in Oregon, Washington and California — where 26 people have died, over 7,1000 structures have been destroyed and more than 3.6 million acres have been razed.

Updated Sep 23, 2020 - Science

Texas and Louisiana face fresh flood threat from storm Beta

Beta's heavy rains lash the beach at Texas' Galveston Island on Monday. Photo: Zeng Jingning/China News Service via Getty Images

Flash flood watches were in effect across southeast Texas and southern Louisiana as Post-Tropical Cyclone Beta continued to unleash heavy rains overnight.

Of note: Up to 14 inches of rain fell in Houston, Texas, late Tuesday as the storm continued to move slowly move east, per the National Hurricane Center.

Sep 19, 2020 - Science

4.5 magnitude earthquake shakes Southern California

A 4.5 magnitude earthquake struck the greater Los Angeles area Friday night, per the the U.S. Geological Survey.

The state of play: The quake came as California is already grappling with wildfires suffocating the West Coast. CNN reports that tremors were felt in San Diego, Valencia and the San Fernando Valley area. The Los Angeles Fire Department is warning people to ready themselves for potential aftershocks.

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."

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.

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