Climate Impact Report – 12/17

Quick Facts


customers were without power in Wisconsin and Michigan

Summer '21

was the wettest monsoon since 2014 in Arizona, according to the National Weather Service


of thousands of customers across the midwest were left without electricity due to a storm system of more than 20 tornadoes

Storms and Flooding

  • A storm system of more than 20 tornadoes that swept across the Midwest left hundreds of thousands of customers without electricity on Thursday, with numerous houses, barns and buildings damaged and five people dead in Iowa, Kansas and Minnesota.

    • Wednesday night brought weather that was extremely unusual for the Midwest at this time of year: 70-degree temperatures, wildfires, tornadoes and winds that surpassed 75 miles per hour.

    • In Stanley, Wisconsin, roofs of buildings sheared off by winds, streets filled with rubble and power lines downed.

      • A family who owns a construction business in Stanley, said both of the company’s buildings were “totally flattened.”

      • School in the Stanley-Boyd Area School District was canceled on Thursday as cleanup efforts began in the city.

    • Multiple schools had to cancel classes in-person and online due to the power outages.

    • The National Weather Service confirmed on Thursday that a tornado had hit north of Neillsville, Wisconsin, near Stanley.

    • Of the five deaths, four occurred on the roads.

      •  Three people had been killed in two separate car crashes on Wednesday, after dust storms had turned driving conditions dangerous.

      • In Iowa, one man was killed after a gust of wind overturned his tractor-trailer on a highway.

      • A 65-year-old Minnesota resident, died when he stepped outside during a storm and was found a short time later with a head injury, pinned under a fallen 40-foot tree.

    • There had been at least 55 wind gusts of at least 75 MPH across the country on Wednesday, the highest daily number since 2004.

    • In the West and Plains regions, dust storms whipped through Colorado and Kansas, and a tornado was spotted in Lincoln, Nebraska.

    • The storm system also spawned wildfires in Kansas with winds of up to 100 MPH.

  • The unusual weather on Wednesday appeared to be fueled by record-breaking warm temperatures coupled with a jet stream

  • As of Thursday afternoon, more than 340,000 customers were without power in Wisconsin and Michigan, 37,000 were without power in Iowa, nearly 29,000 in Kansas and thousands in Illinois, Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri and Minnesota.

  • The Beech River Regional Airport in Tennessee teamed up with the American Red Cross and opened a shelter for those affected by devastating storms last week.

  • California emerged largely unscathed Wednesday from a massive storm that brought drenching rainfall and heavy mountain snow.

    • Parts of the state were mopping up from small mudslides and restoring power that was knocked out. But the heavy rainfall — record-setting in some areas — didn’t cause widespread flooding or unleash larger landslides in areas scarred by massive wildfires as feared.

    • A 40-mile (64-kilometer) stretch of the scenic Highway 1 in the Big Sur area remained closed to repair damage and clean up rocks that tumbled onto the road.

  • Governor Mike Parson announced Thursday that Missouri has begun the process to get federal disaster relief for the state in response to severe storms and deadly tornadoes that swept across the state last week.

    • In Dunklin and Pemiscot counties, over 20 large transmission towers and lines that transport power between New Madrid, Missouri and Dell, Arkansas, were destroyed or heavily damaged.

  • The National Weather Service reported that the Summer of 2021 was the wettest monsoon since 2014 in Arizona.

    • This year’s rainfall in Phoenix measured almost 12 inches more than the normal amount. In July, we had 17 times more rainfall than in July of 2020.


  • 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.

  • Kansas National Guard deployed to help fight wildfires in western and central Kansas that have been difficult to contain due to high winds on Wednesday and Thursday.

    • At least a dozen homes burned, and at least three people were hospitalized.

    • Russell County lost about 10 structures and 6 of those structures were homes.

    • In Trego County, the emergency management coordinator said four homes, several outbuildings and farmsteads were destroyed.

    • In Wichita County, dispatchers said that fires destroyed three homes along with several outbuildings.

  • As of Wednesday, a Southern Plains wildfire outbreak happened across the panhandle of Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

    • State, federal and local firefighters, including Texas A&M Forest Service and Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System, responded to five wildfires, three large and still active, for an estimated 23,055 acres burned.

Extreme Heat

  • Tribes from across the Colorado River basin went to the Colorado River Water Users Association looking for a more significant role in managing water supplies amid an ongoing drought, while still fighting for rights to the water they need to sustain their communities.

  • Las Cruces, New Mexico’s average annual temperature is predicted to rise according to state climate experts.

  • The countries most at risk of food shortages are also worst affected by rising temperature.

  • Storms boost mountain snowpack, but drought persists as Denver, Colorado sees warmest and driest back half of a year ever.

    • Denver broke the record for the latest first snowfall by weeks this year and tied the record for the longest streak of snow-free days at 232.

    • 68% of the state is experiencing severe drought or worse, and 19% of Colorado, including all of Denver, Adams and Arapahoe counties, is experiencing extreme drought conditions.

  • Most of Utah remains under extreme drought despite recent snowfall.

  • Amid a severe drought, California regulators on Wednesday advanced what could be the state’s first major new water storage project in years despite warnings it would hasten the extinction of an endangered salmon species while disrupting the cultural traditions of some native tribes.

    • The plan is to build a new lake in Northern California that, when full, could hold enough water to supply 3 million households for one year.

    • The Sites Reservoir would not connect to any river. Instead, the project must pump water from the nearby Sacramento River.

New Reports And Data

  • A December 2021 study found that Canopy soils that form on tree branches contain three times more carbon than soils on the ground, potentially serving as an important carbon sink.

  • A December 2021 study found that climate-driven tree mortality and fuel aridity are increasing fuel availability in forests leading to record-breaking wildfires.

  • A December 2021 study found that concurrent heatwaves are seven times more frequent than in the 1980s.


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