The latest on extreme weather in the US

By Aditi Sangal, Elise Hammond, Jason Hanna, Mike Hayes and Amir Vera, CNN

Updated 6:41 p.m. ET, June 14, 2022
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12:08 p.m. ET, June 14, 2022

Video shows Montana building falling into the swollen Yellowstone River on Monday

The flooding in southern Montana and northern Wyoming has washed away parts of roads and homes and other structures — including a building along the swollen Yellowstone River in Gardiner, Montana.

The video below, compiled from footage from several people, shows the structure collapsing Monday into the swiftly moving river.

The Yellowstone River, which runs through several Montana communities including Gardiner, swelled to a record high Monday due to recent heavy rainfall and significant runoff from melting snow in higher elevations, according to CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller.

Flooding in the region also forced officials to close Yellowstone National Park to visitors through at least Wednesday.

Watch the video:

11:15 a.m. ET, June 14, 2022

Wildfire statistics show 2022 with highest number of acres burned to date in over a decade

From Ella Nilsen and Brandon Miller

A firefighter watches a helicopter drop water on the Sheep Fire in Wrightwood, California, on Sunday, June 12.
A firefighter watches a helicopter drop water on the Sheep Fire in Wrightwood, California, on Sunday, June 12. (Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP)

Nearly 30,000 wildfires have burned around 2.5 million acres across the US so far this year — exceeding the pace of any year over the past decade, statistics released Tuesday by the National Interagency Fire Center show.

This makes 2022’s early wildfire season the largest in a decade, and the third-largest since records began in 1999 -- behind a record 4 million acres in June in 2011, and 2.7 million acres burned in 2006, according to NIFC spokesperson Sheri Ascherfeld.

Ascherfeld said that climate change is compounding the challenges of fighting wildfires.

“Climate change has brought longer fire seasons, which we now call ‘fire years,’” Ascherfeld said. “We are witnessing wildfire behavior, fueled by severe drought and high winds that now characterize the summer months, that has never been encountered before.”

Wildfires are now happening in different parts of the country, burning more land on average each year, and becoming more extreme, Ascherfeld added.

President Joe Biden traveled to wildfire-devastated New Mexico last weekend, where crews are still battling the largest and second-largest fires on record in the state.

This weekend saw new, large wildfires start in California and Arizona. The Pipeline Fire north of Flagstaff, Arizona, has now grown to 5,000 acres and resulted in hundreds of evacuations.

11:57 a.m. ET, June 14, 2022

More than 100 million people in the US are under heat alerts today

From CNN's Jason Hanna and CNN meteorologist Monica Garrett

heat dome that began last week in the Southwest has shifted east — so areas from the Upper Midwest to the Southeast are set to get hit today with potentially dangerous combinations of heat and humidity.

More than 100 million people — nearly a third of the US population — are under either excessive heat warnings or heat advisories from roughly Minnesota to the Florida Panhandle.

High temperatures could hit 100 degrees or above in cities including St. Louis; Charlotte; and Columbia, South Carolina, the National Weather Service says. But in many more places from the Midwest to the Southeast, humidity will put the heat index — what the air feels like — above 100 degrees. As the Weather Prediction Center said Tuesday:

"A dome of high pressure is expected to generate well-above-normal to record-breaking temperatures across the region both today and tomorrow. This heat, combined with high humidity, will likely produce heat indices well into the triple digits in many locations."

The map above also shows an excessive heat warning for parts of Arizona and Southern California. Those are early warnings that take effect Thursday, when high heat returns to the Southwest.

Here, by the way, is a chart showing how you'd calculate the heat index if you knew the temperature and the relative humidity:

10:39 a.m. ET, June 14, 2022

Extreme heat hits the most vulnerable communities the hardest, study shows 

From CNN's Rachel Ramirez

Heat already kills more Americans than any other weather-related disaster, according to the National Weather Service — and climate change is making these extreme events even more dangerous.

The Northwest's record-breaking heat wave in June, which scientists say would have been "virtually impossible" without human-caused climate change, for instance, killed hundreds of people in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. When Hurricane Ida pummeled Louisiana early this month, a heat wave exacerbated the impacts of the storm.

The compounding consequences of extreme heat don't fall equally across communities. A recent study from the University of California, San Diego, found that low-income neighborhoods and communities with high Black, Hispanic and Asian populations experience significantly more heat than wealthier and predominantly White neighborhoods.

It reflects an earlier study that traces the legacy of neighborhood redlining, the government-sanctioned effort in the 1930s to segregate people of color by denying them housing loans and insurance. While redlining was banned in the late 1960s, remnants of the discriminatory practice are still apparent.

The research analyzed 108 cities in the United States and found that 94% of historically redlined neighborhoods are disproportionately hotter than other areas in the same city.

Redlined neighborhoods typically suffer the most from the urban heat island effect, according to the study, in which some urban areas can be up to 20 degrees hotter than neighborhoods just a few blocks away. Areas with a lot of asphalt, buildings and freeways absorb more of the sun's heat than areas with parks, rivers and tree-lined streets.

Vivek Shandas, lead author of the redlining study and professor of climate adaptation and urban policy at Portland State University, said in addition to historic planning policies, the materials used to construct buildings also play a huge role in amplifying the most severe effects of extreme heat, particularly in low-income apartment complexes.

"What we end up seeing, as these higher density buildings are made of materials that are often able to withstand a heavier load from the multiple floors, is that they're made out of concrete and steel, which amplifies heat," Shandas previously told CNN. "So not only do we have historic planning policies that are creating a distribution of heat that's inequitable, we're also seeing the kinds of buildings that are going into historically disinvested neighborhoods are those types of buildings that retain the sun's solar radiation, and then amplify it."

The effect is striking on the walk from Manhattan's Central Park to East Harlem, says Sonal Jessel, director of policy at the Harlem-based nonprofit WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

The trees that dot the wealthy and predominantly white Upper East Side neighborhood begin to disappear, Jessel says. In contrast, East Harlem, a diverse and historically marginalized neighborhood, is surrounded by freeways and streets, has less tree cover and more industry.

"Ultimately, I describe extreme heat as such a risk-multiplier," Jessel told CNN. "It's not an issue that exists in a vacuum at all, and lower-income communities or communities of color bear the brunt of all these different hardships."

Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, two major cities that got scorched by the June heat wave, rank first and third, respectively, among cities with the highest proportion of households without air conditioning, according to a US Census Bureau survey of 25 major metropolitan areas. Experts say those least likely to have air conditioning are the people who will endure the worst heat -- historically underserved communities.

"And unfortunately, we're not well prepared, just generally speaking in the Pacific Northwest, for heat," Shandas said. "That's where the human side of it comes up, whether people are recognizing that they're actually experiencing some level of heat stress and it might be an unfamiliar experience for them."

CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta contributed reporting to this post.

Read the full report here.

9:58 a.m. ET, June 14, 2022

US electric grid is "not designed to withstand the impacts of climate change," energy experts say

From CNN's René Marsh

Transmission towers are seen at the CenterPoint Energy power plant on Thursday, June 9, in Houston, Texas. Power demand in Texas is expected to set new all-time highs as heat waves surge to levels rarely seen outside of summer, and economic growth contributes to higher usage in homes and businesses. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has said that it has enough resources to meet demand.
Transmission towers are seen at the CenterPoint Energy power plant on Thursday, June 9, in Houston, Texas. Power demand in Texas is expected to set new all-time highs as heat waves surge to levels rarely seen outside of summer, and economic growth contributes to higher usage in homes and businesses. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) has said that it has enough resources to meet demand. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

As heat ramps up ahead of what forecasters say will be a hotter than normal summer, electricity experts and officials are warning that states may not have enough power to meet demand in the coming months. And many of the nation's grid operators are also not taking climate change into account in their planning, even as extreme weather becomes more frequent and more severe.

All of this suggests that more power outages are on the way, not only this summer but in the coming years as well.

Power operators in the Central US, in their summer readiness report, have already predicted "insufficient firm resources to cover summer peak forecasts." That assessment accounted for historical weather and the latest NOAA outlook that projects for more extreme weather this summer.

But energy experts tell CNN that some power grid operators are not considering how the climate crisis is changing our weather — including more frequent extreme events — and that is a problem if the intent is to build a reliable power grid.

"The reality is the electricity system is old and a lot of the infrastructure was built before we started thinking about climate change," said Romany Webb, a researcher at Columbia University's Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. "It's not designed to withstand the impacts of climate change."

Webb said many power grid operators use historical weather to make investment decisions, rather than the more dire climate projections, simply because they want to avoid the possibility of financial loss for investing in what might happen versus what has already happened. She said it's the wrong approach and it makes the grid vulnerable.

"We have seen a reluctance on the part of many utilities to factor climate change into their planning processes because they say the science around climate change is too uncertain," Webb said. "The reality is we know climate change is happening, we know the impact it has in terms of more severe heatwaves, hurricanes, drought, and we know that all of those things affect the electricity system so ignoring those impacts just makes the problems worse."

An early heatwave knocked six power plants offline in Texas earlier this month. Residents were asked to limit electricity use, keeping thermostats at 78 degrees or higher and avoid using large appliances at peak times. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, in its seasonal reliability report, said the state's power grid is prepared for the summer and has "sufficient" power for "normal" summer conditions, based on average weather from 2006 to 2020.

But NOAA's recently released summer outlook forecasts above average temperatures for every county in the nation.

"We are continuing to design and site facilities based on historical weather patterns that we know in the age of climate change are not a good proxy for future conditions," Webb told CNN.

When asked if the agency is creating a blind spot for itself by not accounting for extreme weather predictions, an ERCOT spokesperson told CNN the report "uses a scenario approach to illustrate a range of resource adequacy outcomes based on extreme system conditions, including some extreme weather scenarios."

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation, or NERC — a regulating authority that oversees the health of the nation's electrical infrastructure — has a less optimistic projection.

In a recent seasonal reliability report, NERC placed Texas at "elevated risk" for blackouts this summer. It also reported that while much of the nation will have adequate electricity this summer, several markets are at risk of energy emergencies.

California grid operators in its summer reliability report also based its readiness analysis on "the most recent 20 years of historical weather data." The report also notes the assessment "does not fully reflect more extreme climate induced load and supply uncertainties."

Compounding the US power grid's supply and demand problem is drought: NERC tells CNN there's been a 2% loss of reliable hydropower from the nation's power-producing dams. Add to that the rapid retirement of many coal power plants — all while nearly everything from toothbrushes to cars are now electrified. Energy experts say adding more renewables into the mix will have the dual impact of cutting climate change inducing greenhouse gas emissions but also increasing the nation's power supply.

Read the full report here.

9:19 a.m. ET, June 14, 2022

What is a heat dome?

From CNN's Judson Jones

The reason behind the extremely high temperatures is an area of high pressure creating a clear lid over the Western US. The lid will trap any escaping radiation and send it back to the ground, while the sun's rays continue to penetrate through.

It's called a heat dome, and here's how it forms:

  1. High pressure acts as a lid on the atmosphere
  2. As hot air tries to escape, the lid causes it to sink
  3. The air is forced to warm even more as it sinks

This heat dome began last week in the Southwest and slowly shifted over to the eastern US, where heat and humidity are climbing together to levels that will significantly impact the human body.

Learn more about heat domes in this video here.

9:57 a.m. ET, June 14, 2022

More than 500,000 customers currently without power are also facing extreme heat today

From CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller

More than 500,000 utility customers who are currently without power because of yesterday’s severe weather in the Midwest and the Ohio River Valley are also under excessive heat warnings or heat advisories for today, according to analysis from CNN Weather using power outage numbers from

Nearly 300,000 of them are in Ohio, with the rest being in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and West Virginia. Key cities impacted include Cincinnati, Chicago and Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Locations in the heat alert areas will see dangerous heat indices between 100 and 110 degrees this afternoon, which can turn deadly for those without access to air conditioning.

8:24 a.m. ET, June 14, 2022

Several cities across the US are setting new temperature records

From CNN's Judson Jones

Daily high temperature records were set across several cities Monday afternoon. Here are a few:

  • Columbia, South Carolina, reached an afternoon high of 103 degrees, breaking their old June 13 record of 102 degrees, set in 1958
  • North Platte, Nebraska, hit 108 degrees, breaking their old record of 103 degrees set in 1952
  • St. Louis, Missouri, hit 100 degrees, breaking their old record of 98 degrees set in 1952
  • Charlotte, North Carolina, hit 98 degrees, breaking their old record of 97 degrees set in 1958
  • Nashville, Tennessee, hit 97 degrees, tying the previous record of 97 degrees set in 2016
  • Jackson, Kentucky, hit 94 degrees, the previous record was 91 degrees in 2000
  • Asheville, North Carolina, hit 92 degrees; the previous record was 91 degrees in 2016
8:26 a.m. ET, June 14, 2022

Hundreds of thousands without power in the Midwest as millions endure dangerous heat

From CNN's Elizabeth Wolfe

Severe storms that moved across the Upper Midwest and the Ohio River Valley left more than 620,000 customers without power early Tuesday, according to, with more than 370,000 outages in Ohio alone.

Thunderstorms prompted a tornado warning in Chicago during the busy evening rush hour as wind gusts of up to 84 mph buffeted the city.

The same storm system brought lashing winds and rain to portions of western Ohio, Michigan and northern Indiana, generating more than 200 wind reports in the region, including a 98 mph gust in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

A heat dome that enveloped the Southwest in heat and humidity last week shifted to the central US and put more than 125 million people in the region under heat advisories.

That's more than one third of the US population enduring potentially dangerous heat levels.

Several cities set temperature records Monday afternoon, including Asheville, North Carolina, St. Louis and Nashville. In North Platte, Nebraska, the temperature rocketed to a record 108 degrees.

The heat will continue to travel northeast into the upper Mississippi Valley, western Great Lakes and Ohio Valley, and it will continue to build Tuesday over the southern Mid-Atlantic and Southeast, according to the Weather Prediction Center.

More than 100 million people are under some sort of heat alert Tuesday.

Excessive heat forecasts forced some schools in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin to announce that classes will be canceled, close early or move online this week.

Even after this heat dome subsides, relief could be short-lived. Heat waves will become increasingly common and more severe, experts say.

"Climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of heat waves around the world, tilting the scale in the direction of warmer temperatures," CNN meteorologist and climate expert Brandon Miller explained.

"In the United States, record high temperatures are now well more than twice as likely to occur compared to record low temperatures," according to the US National Climate Assessment.