An Incomplete List of the Past 72 Hours of Unprecedented Weather-Related Calamities

Little League players warm up before a game as the Valley Fire burns in the background near San Diego.
Little League players warm up before a game as the Valley Fire burns in the background near San Diego.
Photo: Sandy Huffaker/AFP (Getty Images)

You may have seen our earlier a piece on the swing between fire and freezing in the West, but that only told a small portion of the wild weather Americans have experienced over the past few days. While your humble correspondent included what he deemed a “fair” amount of facts, stats, and other things to otherwise make the reader understand the gravity of the situation facing the region, a few things were left unsaid. By focusing on the western portion of the U.S., the post inevitably left out other parts of the country, to say nothing of significant weather happenings elsewhere around the globe.

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To rectify this situation, Earther would like to present the following post that includes a list of other weather records, oddities, and things that an informed individual such as yourself may want to know and otherwise have at the ready. This list is not meant to exhaustive and, in fact, may be obsolete by the time you read it because things are worsening quickly while this page will remain a largely static snapshot. Feel free to sound off in the comments about what we missed or discuss how much worse (or better) things have gotten.

  • California has had its worst wildfire season on record—and we haven’t even gotten to the really bad part of the year yet. This surpasses 2018, a season of particularly ill repute due to the largest and most destructive fires in state history.
  • Helicopters were used to evacuate people from wildfires not once but twice. This is all but unprecedented. Helicopters have also been used to issue evacuation orders over large areas.
  • A gender reveal party sparked a major fire in San Bernardino County.
  • California has the most toxic air on Earth. Some stations east of the Sierra Nevada were so polluted, they were registering “beyond index” on the federal government’s pollution monitoring service as of Tuesday morning local time.
  • Oregon? On fire.
  • Washington? Also on fire. A small town was basically razed on Monday. “The scale of this disaster really can’t be expressed in words,” Brett Myers, the sheriff of Whitman County where the damage occurred, said in a statement.
  • PG&E shut off power for at least 172,000 customers to avoid more wildfires, following in the footsteps of last year.
  • Speaking of power outages, nearly 180,000 people are without power across Utah. Winds there cranked to 112 mph, the equivalent of a major hurricane.
  • Speaking of winds, the first Santa Ana wind event of the season (this is the really bad part of the year) kicks off on Tuesday, with widespread critical conditions across California.
  • Oregon and Washington don’t even get Santa Ana winds, but they’re facing a rare Santa Ana-type setup. More than 3 million people live in areas where extreme fire conditions (the worst things can get on the National Weather Service scale) are on tap today, including the Portland metro area.
  • Two tropical storms formed in the Atlantic, six hours apart. They are the earliest “P” and “R” storms on record, respectively. We have four names left on the tropical cyclone name list before the National Hurricane Centers moves onto the Greek alphabet. (Cocktail party fact: There are no “U,” “X,” “Y,” and “Z” storm names because there aren’t enough common names that start with those letters.)
  • One of those cyclones, Tropical Storm Rene, made landfall in the Cabo Verde, a small island nation off the west coast of Africa. There were no immediate reports of damage.
  • There are two other storm systems that bear watching and could turn into tropical storms later this week. One, currently swirling over Africa, has a 70% chance of becoming a tropical storm by Saturday.
  • Flash floods on Monday left parts of Cleveland, Ohio, and the surrounding area underwater and turning roads into rivers in an instant.
  • A day after fires exploded in Colorado, blanketing the Front Range in smoke, the area is now blanketed in snow.
  • Seriously just look at this picture, which shows the weather whiplash in the state over the past day:
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In conclusion, climate change is real, and we need to fix this shit. Fast.

Managing editor, Earther

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DISCUSSION

arcanumv
Arcanum Five

Aw, shit. We broke the Earth.

Quick! Someone run a factory reset on it!