All Extreme weather stories

Smoke from intense Siberian wildfires reaches North Pole

NASA satellite image looking down at the North Pole on Aug. 2, showing wildfires burning across Siberia (orange dots) and a plume of dark, dense smoke snaking its way toward the North Pole. Photo: NASA Worldview

Intense wildfires burning across Siberia's Sakha Republic sent a plume of smoke all the way to the North Pole on Sunday into Monday, as seen by scientists tracking the blazes via satellite imagery.

Why it matters: The fires have been raging since early spring, and while this region is known for seasonal blazes, there are signs the fires are becoming more intense, starting earlier and lasting longer.

Jul 30, 2021 - Axios Tampa Bay

National Weather Service to get more specific on severe thunderstorm warnings

A man rides a bike down the Bayshore Boulevard sidewalk as a storm rolls in. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Starting next week, the National Weather Service will begin using more specific lingo to alert residents to the severity and potential impacts from thunderstorms — similar to tornado and flash-flood warnings.

Why it matters: 13 of the 22 billion-dollar weather and climate events in the U.S. last year were severe thunderstorms.

What to expect:

  • Destructive: Baseball-sized hail and/or 80mph winds; will activate cell-phone alerts.
  • Considerable: Golf-ball-sized hail and/or 70mph winds; no cell-phone alert.
  • Baseline: Quarter-sized hail and/or 50mph winds; no threat tag means the storm is expected to be at or below base level.

Heat dome sends temperatures soaring from Oregon to Louisiana

Forecast maximum temperatures (darker red shading represents the hottest temperatures, in the upper 90s to low 100s, Fahrenheit). July 29. Image: WeatherBell

The Pacific Northwest is once again in the midst of a heat wave after already seeing its worst such event on record this summer. Temperatures are soaring into the low 100s in some areas, while dangerous heat is also affecting the South Central states and Gulf Coast.

Why it matters: The occurrence of yet another heat wave during a drought in the West is ratcheting up wildfire risks. The heat itself is a major public health risk, as extreme heat is typically the biggest annual weather-related cause of mortality in the U.S.

How Tampa Bay's red tide could make Disney World the smelliest place on earth

Data: Pinellas County; Animation: Will Chase/Axios

We’re certainly not trying to minimize the disaster of Pinellas County’s red tide fish kill, but we really want you to understand just how much 1,600 tons of dead fish is — and how its scale affects our local environment.

  • We already showed you how the pile would stack up next to Tampa’s Beer Can Building, and now we've visualized how it would turn Disney’s Magic Kingdom from the happiest to the smelliest place on earth.

Of note: This isn’t even all of it. Since our last update, the amount of dead fish recovered has increased to 1,687 tons, according to the county.

Updated Jul 29, 2021 - Science

Midwest under threat from hurricane-force winds in severe storm system

Photo: NOAA

Organizers in Wisconsin postponed the biggest air show in the U.S. as a severe storm system threatened the Midwest with potentially hurricane-force winds, tornados, hail and thunderstorms overnight.

Threat level: More than 5.9 million people could be affected by the storm system — which saw the EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, postpone events due to be held Wednesday until the following evening amid the threat of 90 mph winds.

Heat dome roasts Northwest, Central states as "derecho" threat looms in Midwest

Weather map showing a sprawling heat dome centered over Kansas on July 30, 2021. (

The latest in a series of relentless heat waves is bringing dangerously hot temperatures to a the Central U.S. on Wednesday, and will contribute to a severe thunderstorm outbreak across the Upper Midwest. The heat will expand in scope toward the end of the week.

The big picture: Heat watches, warnings and advisories are in effect across 19 states, from Portland, Oregon east to Minneapolis, and running all the way south to New Orleans. Temperatures of between 10°F and 15°F above average in these areas along with high humidity poses a public health threat.

Heat wave grips U.S. this week from coast to coast

Computer model projection from the GFS model showing an unusually hot airmass across the western and Central U.S. on Thursday, June 29, 2021. (

A widespread heat wave has begun across the contiguous U.S., with at least 30 million people likely to see temperatures reach or exceed 100°F by the end of the week. At least 17 states are under heat warnings or advisories on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The hot weather, which comes courtesy of another heat dome building across the Southwest, Rockies and then sliding into the western Plains, will only aggravate drought conditions and worsen many of the western wildfires.

One way to visualize Tampa Bay's 1,624 tons of dead fish

Chart: Will Chase/Axios

We are now at 1,624 tons of dead fish that have been pulled from the waters surrounding Pinellas County.

  • It’s hard to think about how big that is, but we tried out best to show you with a little local flair.
  • Pile 'em all up and they'd go a decent way up the Beer Can Building in downtown Tampa. (We'll leave you to imagine the smell.)

Some scale: The heaviest blue whale on record weighed 200 tons. This is more than eight times that.

Drought pushes 2 major U.S. lakes to historic lows

Kayakers at a boat launch ramp Page, Arizona, on July 3, which was made unusable by record low water levels at Lake Powell as the drought continues to worsen near. Photo: David McNew/Getty Images

Two significant U.S. lakes, one of which is a major reservoir, are experiencing historic lows amid a drought that scientists have linked to climate change.

What's happening: Lake Powell, the second largest reservoir in the U.S., has fallen to 3,554 feet in elevation, leaving the crucial lake on the Colorado River, at 33% capacity — the lowest since it was filled over half a century ago, new U.S. Bureau of Reclamation data shows.

Study: Get ready for many more record-shattering heatwaves

NASA computer model image of temperature departures from average on June 27 during the Pacific Northwest heat wave. (NASA Earth Observatory)

The recent deadly heat wave in the Pacific Northwest, during which all-time temperature records were shattered by several degrees, is a prologue to what is coming across much of the U.S., Europe and Asia, a new study finds.

Why it matters: The study shows that the rate of climate change is an under-appreciated driver of extreme heat, and that today's quickening pace of warming virtually guarantees more extreme temperature records in coming decades.