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Picture of an overturned truck on I-80 in Lincoln, Nebraska on Dec. 15, 2021. (Nebraska State Highway Patrol via Twitter)

A massive, multi-hazard storm unprecedented for mid-December in the Plains and Upper Midwest affected nearly 100 million people from New Mexico to Wisconsin on Wednesday into Wednesday night.

Why it matters: The latest storm is yet another demonstration that the dial on the extreme weather meter has gone all the way to 11 during 2021. Many of the events this year, including this one, bear the hallmarks of climate change.

By the numbers...

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
  • 72°F: Temperature reached in Boscobel, Wisconsin, breaking the state's December high-temperature record by 2°F.
  • 78°F: Temperature reached in Oskaloosa, Iowa, breaking the state's monthly record by 4°F.
  • ~660 miles: Distance the severe thunderstorms traveled.
  • 40°F: How far above average the temperatures were on Wednesday in parts of Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas.
  • 18: Number of states where record highs were recorded.
  • As was the case with the deadly tornado outbreak last weekend, the record heat and high humidity, flowing north from an unusually warm Gulf of Mexico, helped fuel the severe storms.
  • 1st: Wednesday's rank in the number of tornado warnings ever issued in South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota during the month of December, according to NOAA tornado researcher Harold Brooks.
  • 1: Number of tornadoes confirmed to have touched down in Minnesota, the first-ever December tornado in the state.
  • 8: Number of states with wind gusts to 90 mph or greater.
  • 107 mph: Wind gust recorded in Lamar, Colorado.
  • 100 mph: Wind gust at the U.S. Air Force Academy Airport in Colorado.
  • 93 mph: Peak wind gust in Lincoln, Nebraska, as storms rolled through.
  • 520,000: Number of customers without power this morning in 8 states.

The bottom line: This storm would have been exceptional had it occurred in the spring or summer, which are the typical times for severe storms known as derechos to roar across the Plains and Midwest.

  • That this event occurred during mid-December, during the same week as the worst December tornado outbreak in U.S. history, is an historical anomaly.

Go deeper

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.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

State of play: Authorities had initially declined to release the name of the 44-year-old suspect or identify the hostages, all adults, though police chief Michael Miller confirmed that one of those held was Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, who leads the congregation.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Concerns grow over CDC's isolation guidelines — Experts warn of more COVID-19 variants after Omicron — WHO recommends 2 new treatments — What "mild" really means when it comes to Omicron — Deaths are climbing as cases skyrocket.
  2. Vaccines: America's vaccination drive runs out of gas— Puerto Rico expands booster shot requirements— Supreme Court blocks Biden's vaccine mandate for large employers.
  3. Politics: Vivek Murthy calls SCOTUS vaccine mandate block "a setback for public health" — Focus group says Biden weak on COVID response, strong on democracy
  4. Economy: America's labor shortage is bigger than the pandemic— — CDC COVID guidance for cruise ships to be optional starting Saturday — The cost of testing.
  5. States: West Virginia governor feeling "extremely unwell" after positive test — Youngkin ends mandates for masks in schools and COVID vaccinations for state workers — America struggles to keep schools open
  6. World: Beijing reports first local Omicron case weeks before Winter Olympics — Teachers in France stage mass walkout over COVID protocols.
  7. Variant tracker