natural disasters

Wildfires have now burned more than 4.6 million acres in 87 large fires across 10 states, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. At least 35 people have died in California, Oregon and Washington, The Associated Press reported.

Dense smoke and fog enveloped an area far beyond the fires on Monday, keeping temperatures cooler but also creating new hazards in an ongoing catastrophe, with reduced visibility and a high risk of smoke inhalation.

Updated at 10:27 p.m. ET

Hurricane Sally will likely make landfall on Tuesday or Tuesday night with sustained winds of at least 110 mph, making it a strong and dangerous Category 2 storm, the National Hurricane Center said.

Some coastal areas in Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and Alabama are already seeing floods from the slow-moving storm, with Sally meandering over the north-central Gulf of Mexico. Its forward speed will slow even further as it heads northwest and finally north toward landfall.

Updated at 10:37 p.m. ET

At least 14 people have died in wildfires that are raging in Oregon, California and Washington state, adding to the horrible toll from record-setting fires in 2020.

With precision, farm workers swiftly harvest rows of strawberries at an organic field in Salinas, Calif. It's hard work, even without a global pandemic and wildfires burning in the background.

Four major wildfires erupted across the state's Central Coast in mid-August, one near Salinas. Smoke blanketed the region, the sun glowed orange and ash rained down.

"It hurt our sinuses," said Jesús Ahumada, an agricultural foreman, in Spanish. "The smoke was so thick."

In Orange, Texas, just across the Sabine River from Louisiana, a line of cars hundreds deep snakes along a highway shoulder and into a parking lot. A local supermarket has set up an aid distribution center in the hot sun and humidity. Families are packed in their cars, waiting to get the basics: ice, water, a hot meal.

Hurricane Laura is the first major test of whether the Gulf Coast is prepared to handle two disasters at once. Coronavirus case numbers in Southwest Louisiana were already spiking at an alarming rate. Then a Category 4 hurricane came ashore.

The upshot of climate change is that everyone alive is destined to experience unprecedented disasters. The most powerful hurricanes, the most intense wildfires, the most prolonged heat waves and the most frequent outbreaks of new diseases are all in our future. Records will be broken, again and again.

But the predicted destruction is still shocking when it unfolds at the same time.

Hurricane Laura has caused at least four deaths in Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards says. All of the deaths reported due to the Category 4 storm were caused by its powerful winds.

"All were related to trees falling on residences, which is in line with this being a major wind event," Edwards said in a news conference at 2 p.m. ET. He added that other deaths may be discovered as emergency crews perform rescue and recovery operations.

Updated at 1:30 a.m. ET Thursday

Hurricane Laura made landfall at 1 a.m. ET Thursday with extreme winds and an expected "catastrophic" storm surge in parts of Texas and Louisiana, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Floods, hurricanes and other natural disasters can devastate a town in just a few hours. But the impact on residents can linger for years in the form of anxiety, depression or other mental health problems. 

Updated at 8:01 p.m. ET

California Gov. Gavin Newsom offered a litany of devastating statistics Monday as hundreds of thousands of acres continue to burn across California in some of the largest wildfires in state history.

Updated 1:05 p.m. ET

Lightning strikes, extreme weather conditions, dangerous levels of smoke and ash, and a deadly pandemic are pushing firefighters and the communities they're trying to save into uncharted territory.

A year ago today, 19 tornadoes touched down in Ohio, destroying homes and businesses in rural and urban areas alike. The largest of those tornados passed through the City of Dayton and several neighboring communities. WYSO’s Jason Reynolds has been talking with people in some of the hardest-hit communities to see where they are today.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts 2020 will be an above-average hurricane season, with six to 10 hurricanes. NOAA expects three to six to be Category 3 or higher, with sustained wind speeds above 110 miles per hour.

President Trump touched down Friday in Tennessee, where residents are still sorting through wreckage and seeking to rebuild after a series of deadly tornadoes blew through the state earlier this week.

Early Tuesday morning, a tornado ripped through Nashville and greater middle Tennessee, causing extensive destruction to homes and businesses and claiming the lives of 24 people across four counties. While not the only neighborhood to sustain widespread damage, East Nashville was hit particularly hard, delivering a harsh blow to the city's vibrant music and arts communities.

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