TIME weather

Heat Wave Affects Millions of Americans This Week

heat wave United States
Spencer Platt—Getty Images A woman relaxes by the East River on a sweltering hot afternoon in New York, on July 28, 2015.

Heat warnings are in effect from St. Louis to Memphis to Philadelphia

Millions of Americans were battling a heat wave Wednesday, facing blazing temperatures and thick humidity which will make the summer scorcher only feel worse.

Excessive heat warnings were in effect from St. Louis down the Mississippi River and past Memphis — into northeastern Louisiana and including Philadelphia. In total, around 35 million people will be under some sort of heat advisory on Wednesday, according to The Weather Channel.

The sweltering heat is expected to last unusually long, Weather Channel meteorologist Kevin Roth said.

“Most of the country over the next week will see temperatures of 90 or higher,” Roth said. “There’s not…

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TIME weather

Oklahoma Hit By 4.5 Magnitude Earthquake

The state had two earthquakes in one day

Residents of Oklahoma experienced an earthquake on Monday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

At around a little past 1 p.m., the state experienced a 4.5 magnitude earthquake near Crescent, Oklahoma in Logan County, local news reports. A 4.0 earthquake was also reported slightly earlier at 12:49 p.m.

Residents in several states reportedly felt the shake, including Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Missouri and Arkansas, the Weather Channel reports.

So far there are no reports of major damage.

The Rocky Mountain region is infrequently hit by earthquakes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, which will be monitoring any further seismic activity.

TIME weather

Pregnant Mom Swept Away in Ohio Floods as More Storms Loom

Ohio Flood
Liz Dufour—The Cincinnati Enquirer/AP Jeff Downing walks around his property after severe flooding in Ripley, Ohio on July 19, 2015.

Victoria Kennerd, 32, was six months pregnant

The threat of severe thunderstorms loomed over parts of the Midwest and Southeast on Monday, after a pregnant woman and two of her children were killed in floodwaters in Ohio.

Victoria Kennerd, 32, was six months pregnant. Her 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter were also killed, but her husband and her other two children survived when the family’s mobile home was swept away by the surging Red Oak Creek in Ripley, Ohio, NBC station WLWT reported.

The deaths came as heavy rain pounded much of the Eastern U.S. on Saturday and Sunday…

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TIME weather

Watch a Massive Tornado Rip Through Illinois

Illinois Severe Weather
Steve Davis—AP Multiple grain bins lie toppled over each other on July 17, 2015 in Cameron, Ill., the morning after a tornado swept through the city.

There were no significant injuries

A huge twister in northwest Illinois touched down around 7:30 p.m. on Thursday evening, bringing with it winds of more than 110 m.p.h. and multiple vortexes. Despite the size and force of the tornado, the Illinois state police reported no deaths or serious injuries.

The small unincorporated community of Cameron, home to approximately 600 residents, bore the brunt of the storm with some 50 homes sustaining damage. A nearby town also lost electricity and Governor Bruce Rauner activated an emergency operations center in Springfield to deal with the fallout from the tornado. See footage of the storm here:

 

TIME Japan

Two Dead, 350,000 Urged to Flee Their Homes as Typhoon Nangka Arrives in Japan

At least 31 people have been injured

Torrential rain and powerful winds of up to 185 km/h (115 m.p.h.) prompted authorities in southern Japan’s island of Shikoku to order a mass evacuation as Typhoon Nangka made landfall late Thursday.

The typhoon’s approach in the Pacific led Japanese authorities to warn at least 350,000 people to leave their homes. At least two people have died, according to the BBC, citing Kyodo news agency. Broadcaster NHK reported at least 31 have been injured.

While Nangka has since been downgraded to a tropical storm as it moves north, officials worry strong winds and rain could still pose a danger.

On Friday morning, parts of the main island of Honshu were lashed by high waves, gales and thunderstorms, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency

Though the storm was clocked at just 15km/h, the agency reported a maximum sustained wind speed of 90km/h.

TIME climate change

Some Parts of California May Soon Be Drought-Free

But here's why the state will still need a lot more water

Some parts of California now suffering from drought may soon be relieved, thanks to El Niño-related precipitation expected in the coming months, according to new government forecasts. But the precipitation is unlikely to provide enough relief to the mountain regions that provide most of the water for agriculture and consumers throughout the state.

The forecast, produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), shows “drought removal likely” in a small swath of the southeastern part of California by October 31. NOAA meteorologists said last week that there’s a 90% chance of El Niño continuing through winter and an 80% chance of it persisting through early spring. If it does, the drought-free area in California could expand along the coast and in the southern part of the state, according to NOAA climate prediction center meteorologist Matthew Rosencrantz.

Read More: How the California Drought Is Increasing the Potential for Devastating Wildfires

Courtesy of NOAA Climate Prediction CenterA small area in the Southeastern part of California, mapped in green, is likely to see drought end by October.
Courtesy of NOAA Climate Prediction CenterA small area in the Southeastern part of California, mapped in green, is likely to see drought end by October.

But relief in those regions will do little to alleviate most of the drought’s worst effects. Most of the water used for consumer consumption and in agriculture comes from reservoirs in the north of the state, and forecasts don’t show those areas receiving a boost in precipitation. In fact, the state’s Department of Water Resources says that in Northern and Central California there’s “almost no correlation between precipitation and El Niño.”

“For northern California and the reservoirs, there’s not much certainty” of relief, says Rosencrantz. “Local agriculture, non-irrigation agriculture, could have a benefit this winter, but for anybody that relies on the aqueducts that come through central California there’s not enough certainty.”

Outside of California, forecasts show the drought expanding, particularly in the north of the country. Montana and Idaho are both expected to see more area affected by the drought in coming months. Puerto Rico, which is already suffering a severe drought, is also expected to see even drier coming months. El Niño is likely at the root of these changes, says Rosencrantz. In addition to increasing precipitation in the Southwest, the climate phenomenon leads to dry spells in northern regions.

TIME weather

The Last Snow from Boston’s Nightmare Winter Has Finally Melted

Worker digs a path through the large snow mounds on Beacon Street during a winter blizzard in Boston
Brian Snyder / Reuters A worker digs a path through the large snow mounds on Beacon Street during a winter blizzard in Boston.

The last snowflake from Boston’s record-breaking winter snowfall has officially melted, according to Mayor Marty Walsh.

Walsh tweeted that a contest he had held to guess when the snow pile would melt had been won. The winner, who remains unnamed, is the lucky recipient of a meeting with Walsh.

The stubborn residue of snow was located on Tide Street. As recently as July 7, the pile — which had, at one point, towered 75 feet high — had garnered commentary from The New York Times, which marveled at its resilience: “… What the mound has lost in stature, it has made up for in sheer endurance,” reporter Katharine Q. Seelye wrote on July 6. “Few predicted it would last this long.”

Alas, a series of 90 degree days won against the snow pile.

The final tally on Boston’s brutal snowfall clocked in at 110 inches.

Read next: The Unsung Heroes of Summer: Beach Bulldozers

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TIME weather

Strong El Niño Set to Bring California Drought Relief

For California, the relief couldn't come soon enough

El Niño has strengthened and will likely peak in the late fall and last until the spring, bringing much-needed relief to regions in California affected by drought, federal weather officials said Thursday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said there is now a 90% chance that El Niño will last through the winter and an 80% chance it will last into spring 2016.

“The stronger this event becomes, the more confident that next winter we’ll see stronger precipitation in California and the whole southwestern United States,” said Mike Halpert, an official at NOAA.

In previous strong El Niño events, California has seen a 150% to 200% increase in rainfall compared to average years, according to Halpert. Peak rainfall during El Niño typically occurs in late fall or early winter. At the same time, parts of the U.S. located far from the Western seaboard may experience a decline in precipitation.

For California, though, the relief couldn’t come soon enough. The state received the least precipitation in decades in 2014, following years of similarly low rain levels. Still, despite the strong predictions, Halpert says it’s worth withholding excitement over the storm. “There’s still a little ways to go before we get to where this event should peak,” he said.

Read More: Why Some California Cities Are Bracing for a Bear Invasion

TIME weather

Yes, the U.S. Really Did Have a Damp Start to Summer

Large areas saw up to six times the average rainfall in past 30 days

Early summer typically marks the start of the dry season across much of the United States. But that’s far from the case across vast swaths of the country this year, a new map from the National Weather Service shows.

us weather precipitation
Courtesy of the National Weather ServiceAreas in red experienced considerably less precipitation in the last 30 days than average. Blue and purple regions experienced up to six times the average. Red regions received a small fraction of the typical rainfall.

The map compares data collected over the past 30 days from local weather centers with local averages from the same days collected over the past 30 years. Purple and blue regions received at least 1.5 times the average rainfall in the last 30 days — and the map shows large parts of the Northeast and Southwest much wetter than average.

But other regions received very little rain, like drought-stricken California and Washington, which sweated through a heatwave in late June. Very few regions received an average level of rainfall.

Dan Petersen, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service, described the trend as “unusual.” “It’s just been striking—instead of just being part of a season, we’ve had multiple seasons of this trend,” he said.

 

TIME weather

Tornadoes Sweep Across Midwest, More Severe Storms Predicted

Central Illinois Severe Tornados midwest
Jon Durr—Getty Images The scoreboard at Coal City High School's football field is left damaged after a tornado struck the previous day on June 23, 2015 in Coal City, Illinois.

13 tornadoes were reported across four states

Five people were rescued from a campground as tornadoes swept across the Midwest overnight, with almost 50 million more Americans under the threat of further damaging thunderstorms on Tuesday.

Winds of 122mph were recorded in South Dakota and baseball-sized hail fell in Indiana as the severe storms ripped up trees and power lines.

In total, 13 tornadoes were reported across four states, the Weather Channel reported. In Illinois, where at least one twister was confirmed by the National Weather Service, more than 15,000 customers were without power.

The storm system was moving swiftly towards the Northeast Tuesday, forecasters said, with…

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