Climate Impact Report – 03/09

Quick Facts

7 lives

claimed in Iowa after a weekend of violent weather with over 30 tornado reports.

33% increase

in death rates from illnesses in months following hurricanes and tropical cyclones in the U.S. in recent decades.

29,000 acres

burned in Florida Panhandle from three sweeping wildfires that started last week.

Key Facts Of The Day 3/9

Storms and Flooding

  • Storms hit the Midwest over the weekend and severe weather risk expands to the East Coast.
    • Residents of the Corn Belt and Mid-South are picking up the pieces after a weekend of violent weather, which claimed seven lives in Iowa and yielded more than three dozen reports of tornadoes. 
    • Parts of Winterset, a small city about 25 miles southwest of Des Moines, Iowa was leveled, with damage observed to be at least EF3 strength on the 0 to 5 scale for twister intensity.
    • The storms that raked Iowa on Saturday were the deadliest to occur in the state since May 2008. 
    • The March 5 storms damaged or destroyed other homes and downed power lines and trees, causing some power outages.
    • One expert estimated the March 5 storms likely caused more than $1 billion damage altogether.
    • Five people were injured near Zion, Arkansas, as a severe thunderstorm with a possible tornado damaged two homes. 
  • ​​A wild and wintry storm may hit the D.C. area Saturday after cold rain Wednesday.
    • On Wednesday a cold rain mixed with snow is expected to hit the Washington D.C. region.
    • A blockbuster storm is projected to form along an Arctic cold front charging through the area, bringing the potential for high winds, downpours, plunging temperatures, and even the chance of snow.
    • The developing storm could probably meet the criteria of a bomb cyclone.
  • Hurricanes and other tropical cyclones that have pummeled U.S. populations in recent decades were linked to up to 33% higher death rates from related illnesses in the months following the storms.


  • As of Feb. 25, there are currently 6 large active wildfires that have burned 12,214 acres across CA, FL, MS, and OK. As of Friday, 7,087 wildfires have burned 149,774 acres across the country.
  • As of Tuesday, three sweeping wildfires that started last week in the Florida Panhandle have burned more than 29,000 acres and are threatening surrounding communities amid dry and windy weather.
    • The blazes, which are collectively called the Chipola Complex, are being fed by dead trees and other vegetation left by Hurricane Michael in 2018.
    • As of Tuesday, the largest blaze in the Chipola Complex, the Bertha Swamp Road fire, was more than 28,000 acres in size and was 10% contained.
    • The two other Chipola Complex fires — the Adkins Avenue and Star Avenue fires — have combined to burn a little over a thousand acres and are each about 80% contained.
    • Over the weekend, the fires forced nearly 1,100 homes to be evacuated, though all evacuation orders for the Adkins Avenue and Star Avenue fires have been lifted.
    • Gusty winds on Tuesday caused erratic fire behavior that prompted additional evacuation orders for parts of Calhoun County.
    • So far two homes have been destroyed and others were damaged.
    • Fire officials said more than 70 tractor-plow units and 10 aircrafts, including three Florida National Guard Black Hawk helicopters, were working to suppress the wildfires. 

Extreme Heat

  • Recent storms are not making a significant dent in Utah’s severe drought.
  • Oregon Governor Kate Brown has issued the first drought declaration of the year for Klamath County. Brown says this first declaration comes nearly a month earlier than last year.
    • The declaration means that the state believes low snowpack, reservoir levels, and streamflow have caused or will cause natural and economic disaster conditions in Klamath County.
  • The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources says that it’s the time of year when rain should be plentiful but all the main Hawaiian islands are experiencing at least moderate drought.
    • The northwestern tips of Kauai and Maui are experiencing severe droughts.
    • The State Commission of Water Resource Management is advising people in Maui County to take immediate actions to reduce their water use.  
  • Drought in the western US is limiting water availability for agriculture in 2022, spurring cuts to allocations in California and Arizona as extreme dryness continues into a third year.
    • The US Bureau of Reclamation announced last month that irrigation districts accounting for farmers across California’s Central Valley would receive a zero-water allocation from the Central Valley Project as early-year dryness weighs on anticipated water supply. 
    • No water is allocated for irrigation north and south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin river delta, including off the Sacramento River.
    • The entirety of California remains in at least moderate drought.
    • Increasingly scarce water supply in the western US is also poised to be a key factor in Arizona planting decisions this season as water levels continue to decline in the Colorado River Basin.
  • Satellite images taken over the past several decades reveal that more than 75% of the Amazon rainforest is losing resilience.
    • The vegetation is drier and takes longer to regenerate after a disturbance.
    • Amid rising temperatures and other human pressures, the ecosystem could suffer sudden and irreversible dieback. 
    • More than half of the rainforest could be converted into savanna in a matter of decades — a transition that would imperil biodiversity, shift regional weather patterns, and dramatically accelerate climate change.
    • Exceeding the Amazon’s tipping point would also unleash several years’ worth of global greenhouse gas pollution into the atmosphere.
  • The latest IPCC report found that pregnant women are more likely to suffer disproportionately in extreme weather events, like heat waves.
    • In the U.S. these risks are amplified by socioeconomic and racial disparities, with Black women already experiencing elevated risks of complications during pregnancy.

New Reports And Data

  • A March 2022 study found that hurricanes and cyclones in the U.S. were linked with up to 33.4% higher death rates from different major causes.
  • A March 2022 study found that flaring of natural gas from oil wells appeared to cause an increase of around 11,000 hospital visits for respiratory reasons in North Dakota, US, up to 60 miles away from oil drilling sites.
  • A March 2022 study found that more than 75% of the Amazon rainforest is losing resilience from deforestation and climate change.
  • A March 2022 study found that exposure to car exhaust from leaded gas during childhood stole a collective 824 million IQ points from over 170 million Americans


Wanna know more? Sign up for regular updates on extreme weather impacts and how you can fight for bold climate action.