6 extreme disaster weather events happened June 13

Storms, extreme heat, flooding, wildfires and drought hit various parts of the United States on June 13, 2022.

People across much of the US checked their phones on June 13 to find some sort of severe weather alert and, in some locations, multiple alerts at different times of the day.

Flood captured by camera devastated Yellowstone National Park, decimated roads and forced officials to close the park to visitors. Videos recorded on June 13 or in the days before in other parts of the country will be shown heavy rain and wind from a nightly derechothat is a widespread wind and thunderstorm, and plumes of smoke from a massive wildfire along a desert horizon.

One person on Twitter re-shared video of Yellowstone’s flooding, claiming at least there were six natural disasters in the US in a single evening in a tweet that has been liked more than 40,000 times. Other people Discussion repeated on the original tweet that six “extreme weather events” occurred in a single day: June 13.

THE QUESTION

Have there been six extreme weather events in the US in a single day?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, there were six extreme weather events in the US in a single day.

WHAT WE FOUND

People in different parts of the US experienced heat, storms, wildfires and droughts on June 13th. A little less than a third of the US population experienced an intense all-day heatwave in the Midwest and South, a derecho swept through the Midwest and south after dark, record-breaking floods paralyzed Yellowstone National Park, Wildfires raged across Alaska and the arid Southwest while extreme drought prevailed throughout the West.

Each of these weather events was severe enough to be classified as hazardous or hazardous by the standards of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Risk Index. Natural phenomena that meet FEMA’s natural hazard criteria have the potential to cause natural disasters that are determined based on their human impact.

On the evening of June 13, a type of wind and thunderstorm known as a derecho swept across parts of the Midwest, Appalachia, and Southeast. Three rounds of severe storms began this afternoon, according to the National Weather Service, causing a significant swath of straight-line wind damage that continued into the night hours.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says a derecho can cause destruction similar to that of a tornado, but the damage typically occurs in one direction along a relatively straight path — hence “straight-line wind damage.” The storm must be long-lived, continuously causing wind damage for at least 400 miles, and consistently generating gusts of at least 58 miles per hour while wreaking havoc.

According to the National Weather Service (NWS), a 98 mph gust was recorded from the derecho at Fort Wayne International Airport, breaking a previous record. Other wind readings in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area ranged from 50 to 75 mph and resulted in significant damage.

Heat wave in central and eastern US

On June 13, people in the Midwest, Great Plains, and Southeast faced triple-digit temperatures and heat indexes, which are a measure of how the temperature feels due to humidity. The heat indexes in these areas reached 110 or even 120 in places. At least two deaths in Wisconsin are being investigated as possible heat-related deaths.

FEMA defines a dangerous heat wave as “a period of unusually and uncomfortably hot and unusually humid weather, typically lasting two or more days, with temperatures outside of historical averages for a particular area.”

Although this definition does not include specific numbers, FEMA uses NWS weather alerts to determine a region’s risk of experiencing heat waves. The most urgent heat warning issued by the NWS is an excessive heat warning.

“[An excessive heat warning is] if the maximum heat index temperature is expected to be 105 degrees or higher for at least 2 days and nighttime air temperatures will not fall below 75 degrees; However, these criteria vary across the country, particularly in areas not used to extreme heat conditions,” says the NWS. “In extreme conditions, if you don’t take immediate precautions, you can become seriously ill or even die.”

On June 13, the NWS Weather Prediction Center reported that about a third of the country’s population is on excessive heat warnings, watches and notices due to record-breaking temperatures.

“Heat index readings topped 105 degrees beginning June 12 and continued through June 16,” the NWS office in Paducah, Kentucky said. “The most oppressive day was June 13, when dew points generated mid-70s to about 80 heat index readings from 110 to nearly 120.”

In Montana, the NWS Billings bureau said a combination of heavy rain and significant snowmelt between June 10 and 13 caused “unprecedented” flooding in south-central Montana — most notoriously in Yellowstone National Park.

“This resulted in flooding that has rarely or never before occurred in many of the region’s rivers and streams,” the NWS said.

The National Park Service (NPS) confirmed that the flooding severely damaged infrastructure in Yellowstone National Park. The NPS reported that all entrances to Yellowstone National Park remained closed on June 14, its latest update as of publication.

Photos and video posted by the NPS show the floodwaters completely washed away the ground beneath roads and destroyed bridges across the park. Whole sections of the riverside road in Yellowstone were destroyed as a result.

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte declared a statewide disaster in response to the flooding.

Though the images aren’t nearly as dramatic as the Yellowstone floods, droughts can be dangerous and have plagued most of the western US for well over a year. The drought has slowly dried up the region’s lakes, leading to water shortages in the region.

FEMA defines a dangerous drought as “an extended period of lack of rainfall resulting in water shortages.” It uses the US Drought Monitor operated by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln National Drought Mitigation Center to determine US drought risk

As of June 14, 78% of the drought monitor’s western region was in at least moderate drought conditions, including 12% in exceptional drought—the driest rating on its scale. This drought has lasted for well over a year – the last time the total drought area fell below 78% was on April 13, 2021.

Since early 2021, between 40% and 60% of the continental US has experienced consistently moderate drought conditions or worse. The effects of this severe drought can be seen on the region’s major lakes: Great Salt Lake and Lake Mead. The Great Salt Lake is no larger than 44% of its normal surface area, and Lake Mead, which supplies water to 40 million people in seven states and northern Mexico, is at 35% of its capacity.

RELATED: Yes, the Great Salt Lake is shrinking

Major fires have been raging in Santa Fe National Forest and Gila National Forest in New Mexico since May, and another major fire recently broke out in Arizona’s Coconino National Forest. Several major cities — namely Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Flagstaff, Arizona — are within a stone’s throw of wildfire.

According to FEMA, a wildfire is an “unplanned fire that burns in a natural or wild area such as a forest, shrubland, grassland, or prairies.”

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) says five states — Alaska, Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas — are currently reporting large wildfires.

The two largest wildfires in the continental US are both currently in New Mexico, and both started in May. New Mexico is currently the state hardest hit by exceptional drought – 52% of the state is experiencing the driest conditions possible. The third largest fire in the continental US is in Arizona and started on the morning of June 12.

More acres of Alaskan wilderness are currently burning than any other state combined, according to the NIFC.

The June 15 daily update for the East Fork fire, which began on May 31, confirmed the fire is still active. As of June 16, there were 88 active wildfires across the state.

NIFC says wildfires have burned more than 900,000 acres of land in Alaska. That’s already more than the 30-year median of 600,000 acres burned during the entire wildfire season, according to NASA. Typically, over the past 30 years through mid-June, 50,000 acres of land have been burned in Alaska by wildfires.

What is a natural disaster?

FEMA, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) all define “natural disasters” based on the human impact of a natural disaster.

According to FEMA, a disaster must result in severe property damage, death, and/or multiple injuries. According to the IFRC, a disaster should cause “serious disruption” to the functioning of a community that exceeds the “community’s capacity to manage with its own resources.” According to DHS, a natural disaster “should pose a significant threat to human health and safety, property, critical infrastructure, and homeland security.”

Although the President can use the Stafford Act to officially designate a disaster as a “major disaster” or “declaration of emergency,” that designation only determines the federal response. Once the President designates something as a major disaster, the federal government and FEMA can use specific funds to support communities in a variety of ways.

Currently, the Biden administration has declared major disasters or emergency disasters for the Southwest fires, particularly the massive New Mexico fires, and for the Yellowstone National Park floods. But an extreme weather event does not have to be a “major disaster” to be considered a disaster by FEMA, and some disasters are not declared until months after the disaster occurs.

The extreme weather events of June 13 are consistent with NOAA’s expectations of the ongoing and increasingly severe impacts of climate change.

“Extreme weather events are projected to increase due to climate change,” NOAA says. “In many places, the number of heat waves they experience each year will increase significantly and severe cold episodes are likely to decrease. Rainfall events are expected to become less frequent but more intense in many areas, and droughts will be more frequent and severe in areas where average rainfall is expected to decrease.”

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Alley Einstein

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