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Weird Weather

What is going on with the weather?

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What is going on with the weather? California, Texas and Colorado are among the many states suffering from prolonged drought conditions. Super tornados wreaked an estimated $2 billion worth of damage in Oklahoma this spring. Wildfires have scorched thousands of acres in Colorado and Arizona this summer, destroying houses, businesses, and causing the deaths of 19 firefighters in a blaze in Yarnell Hill, Arizona. Unprecedented floods have caused millions of dollars worth of destruction in Calgary, Alberta. No matter where you look, the weather seems to be extreme.

The storms that struck Oklahoma this year killed over forty people, and leveled multiple school buildings. One tornado cut a swath of destruction more than two and a half miles wide. NBC news reported that 13,000 households have requested help from FEMA and the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. Glenn Lewis, the mayor of Moore, Oklahoma, told NBC that each school will cost around $14 million to rebuild, and the city infrastructure of roads, traffic signs, traffic lights and street lamps, among other things, will also need to be replaced. The damage was so far–reaching and all–encompassing that the cities affected are still figuring out exactly what is needed first (nbcnews.com. “Disaster assistance for Oklahoma tornadoes tops $25 million.” Tracy Jarrett).

Across the world in India, the Brahmaputra River overran its banks in June, after prolonged heavy rains. The waters have covered 250 villages, displaced 75,000 people and damaged over 12,000 acres of crops in the Northeastern State of Assam (The Economic Times. 3 July 2013. “Assam floods”). June floods in Calgary, Alberta caused an estimated $250 million in damages to the city’s library, sports complex and multiple government buildings (cbc.ca. 2 July 2013.“Calgary flood damage to cost city $256M”).

On the other end of the spectrum, the major wheat–producing areas of the United States—Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas—have been suffering under drought conditions for several years now. Almost one–third of the region is considered to be experiencing extreme drought, and the Department of Agriculture reported that “39 percent of the U.S. winter wheat crop was in poor to very poor condition” this spring (reuters.com. 16 May 2013. “U.S. drought area continues to shrink; some wheat still at risk.” Carey Gillam).

Years of dry weather in the western US have played a major factor in the rash of wildfires that seem to have become an annual summer threat to forests and homes. According to Climate Central, “The Yarnell Hill fire, like other wildfires in the West right now, is taking place in the context of one of the most extreme heat waves on record in the region, as well as a long–running drought” (“The Climate Context Behind the Deadly Arizona Wildfire”. 1 July 2013. Andrew Freedman.).