Climate Impact Report – 12/15

Quick Facts

80+ Killed

by a series of deadly tornadoes that ripped across at least six states on Friday in what experts have called a "historic" weather event

7 Children

killed by the tornado on a single Kentucky street

100° F

the United Nations confirmed as the hottest temperature ever recorded in the Arctic., in June 2020 in the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk

Key Facts Of The Day 12/15

Storms and Flooding

  • A series of deadly tornadoes ripped across at least six states on Friday, killing more than 80 people in what experts have called a “historic” weather event. 
    • The community of Bowling Green, which has a robust refugee resettlement program to bring migrants to Western Kentucky, was devastated by the tornadoes.
      • On a single street, the tornado killed 7 children. 
    • Experts say these kinds of weather events may only get deadlier as climate change moves coastal populations inland to vulnerable areas.
    • The stark contrast in temperatures of the Northeast and Eastern U.S. created a “perfect setup for such a big storm.”
    • Tornadoes have become much more variable in their intensity, and will likely continue to do so, making it difficult to pinpoint when more disastrous storms, like EF-4 or EF-5 tornadoes, will take place.
    • The zone of the country most susceptible to tornadoes, known as “Tornado Alley,” may be shifting eastward.
      • These areas are more densely populated and the majority of homes were not built to withstand strong tornadoes.
    • The U.S. has the world’s highest tornado risk.
  • High wind and storm warnings go into effect Wednesday night for west Michigan, as a system builds across the state.
    • The National Weather Service warned there could be more twisters in the new storm system, with a slight risk of severe thunderstorms over parts of southern Minnesota and northern Iowa, effective Wednesday through Thursday.
  • Heavy rains from a moderately strong atmospheric river event saw several rescue operations launched along the swollen Los Angeles River on Tuesday after several Orange County residents became trapped by mudslides.
    • Evacuation orders were issued for several communities in Orange County, as mudslides and flooding threatened areas scarred by wildfires.
  • Winter storm watches, warnings, and advisories were in effect from the West Coast through the Rockies, with widespread heavy snowfall forecast to persist over the western U.S. through Thursday.


  • As of Dec. 3, there are currently 13 large active wildfires that have burned 105,279 acres across AK, CA, KY, MT, NC, OK, and WV. As of Dec. 3, 54,350 wildfires have burned 6,802,729 acres across the country.
  • Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles faced a “Critical Risk of Fire Weather” through Wednesday morning. 
    • Wednesday could be particularly risky because of low humidity and high winds.
  • Wildfires are putting Giant Sequoias at existential risk, with mortality in Alder Creek Grove near 100%.

Extreme Heat

  • The United Nations confirmed the hottest temperature ever recorded in the Arctic., with the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk hitting 100 degrees in June 2020.
    • Temperatures across the region that summer averaged as much as 18 degrees above normal.
  • Record high temperatures are possible late Wednesday and early Thursday for Michigan, with a wildfire threat.
  • Unseasonably warm weather, strong winds, extremely dry fuels, and low relative humidity levels were set to strike the Central and Southern Plains over the next few days.
  • Forecasters say Wyoming is likely in store for “normal to below normal” snowpack this winter and early spring, bringing little drought relief.
    • Wyoming is in the second year of a “moderate to severe” drought that has parched much of the West.
    • Just three Wyoming ski resorts had opened as of Monday.
    • Wyoming’s average temperature in November was about 6 degrees warmer than average.
  • Despite atmospheric rivers, North Bay in California is likely to remain in drought.
  • December is usually one of the wettest months of the year for the North Bay, but many counties are seeing fewer inches of rain on average.

New Reports And Data

  • A December 2021 study found that polar bears in the Beaufort Sea have had to travel far outside of their traditional arctic hunting grounds which has contributed to an almost 30% decrease in their population. 
  • A December 2021 study found that rising temperatures have irreversibly altered both the Arctic and Antarctic and put the rest of the planet in peril.
  • A December 2021 study found a link between decreased vehicle emissions and a significant drop in deaths attributable to air pollution.


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