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2021 Year in Review: Weather and Climate

To recap 2021, is taking a look back at some of the most interesting stories we’ve covered this year.
Today we’re looking at some of this year’s big stories related to weather and the climate.

Massive Winter Storm Grips Much of US

Ice on cactus in Texas.
Much of the United States is locked in the grip of an unusually large and extremely cold winter storm. The storm has brought bad weather, super-cold temperatures, power cuts, and transportation problems. About half of all Americans are affected.

Intense Dust Storm Hits Beijing, Northern China

A labeled satellite image shows a dust plume originating from the Taklamakan Desert in northwest China and moving east toward Beijing.
Beijing and much of northern China have been hit by an intense dust and sand storm. The storm, driven by winds across the Gobi Desert, has turned the skies of the Chinese capital orange, and left the air unsafe to breathe.

Heavy Flooding Across New South Wales

Road signs submerged in Penrith, NSW during the March 2021 floods.
A year after being hit with massive bushfires, New South Wales, Australia is suffering from record-setting floods. Over 18,000 people have been forced from their homes after several days of heavy rains. More rain is on the way.

Taiwan Water Shortage Forces Difficult Choices

Low level of water in Baoshan Number 2 Reservoir, 2011.
Taiwan is taking serious steps to deal with its worst drought in 56 years. The extreme dry weather has left many farmers unable to grow crops and is threatening many other businesses in the country.

India Hit by Powerful Cyclone Tauktae

Cyclonic Storm Tauktae seen over India by the Terra satellite on May 18, 2021.
On Monday, Gujarat, India was hit by the strongest storm ever to strike India’s west coast. Cyclone Tauktae has forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and made India’s Covid-19 emergency even more difficult to deal with.

Pacific Northwest Faces Record Hot Weather

Graphic of Western Washington showing National Weather Service's predicted high temperatures for the day of June 28, 2021.
Western Canada and the northwestern United States have been facing record-breaking high temperatures for days. An unusual weather system has created a “heat dome” of trapped hot air in the area. The heat is expected to last for several more days.

First Known Rain at Top of Greenland’s Ice Sheet

Aerial recording of Big House (left) and Greenhouse (right) (3208 m, Summit Camp, Greenland)
On August 14, it rained at the highest point of Greenland’s ice sheet. This is normally the coldest part of the ice sheet – a place where rain has never been seen before. It’s another big weather change that seems to be connected to the climate crisis.

Powerful Hurricane Ida Smashes Into Louisiana

Hurricane Ida at landfall on Port Fourchon, August 29, 2021.
Hurricane Ida pounded Louisiana yesterday with extremely strong winds and heavy rains. Ida is the second strongest hurricane to hit Louisiana, and it’s still moving slowly, leaving a path of destruction behind it.

Giant Trees Wrapped to Protect Against Wildfires

Wildland firefighters applying structure wrap to giant sequoias on the KNP Complex
Fire fighters have protected several massive sequoia trees in California by covering their bases with a foil-like wrap to protect them. In spite of the intense wildfires, fire fighters have so far been able to save some of the most famous of these trees.

Climate Meeting Makes Progress, But Falls Short of Goal

COP26 Closing Plenary. People clap after the Glasgow Climate Pact is approved.
On Saturday, people representing nearly 200 countries agreed to a new climate deal called the Glasgow Climate Pact. The deal shows more progress than many people expected, but it’s still not strong enough to avoid the worst effects of global warming.



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