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Super-Charged Clouds Are Dumping Rain and Snow on the U.S.

The rain may be over (for now), but the flood risk has yet to peak.

Snow in Iowa.
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A surface cyclone dumped rain on the Northeast overnight, leaving millions of people under flood warnings. Streets were submerged in cities including Annapolis and Baltimore, Maryland; and Alexandria, Virginia. Washington, D.C. broke its daily rain record early Tuesday evening. The storm is also blasting states with strong wind gusts, and at least 15 tornadoes were reported in the South. More than 600,000 homes remain without power, most of those on the East Coast.

The rain is tapering off, but the worst may be yet to come. As National Weather Service meteorologist Patrick Wilson told The New York Times: “The worst time for flooding is right after the rain stops.” It takes time for the water dumped by a storm to travel down from mountains and make its way into smaller streams and rivers, Wilson said. But when it does, those waterways can flood.

The National Weather Service says moderate to major river flooding could inundate parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast through Thursday. High water levels combined with wind gusts that could exceed 60 mph increase the chances of coastal flooding.

To make matters worse, there’s another storm on the way. The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for the Cascade and Olympic mountains, the first such warning in over a decade. That system will make its way east and is expected to “intensify explosively” by the weekend, bringing blizzard conditions to the Midwest, severe storms to the South, and more flooding to the East Coast.

“Much below normal temperatures along with gusty winds will lead to wind chills well below zero for many locations,” the NWS Weather Prediction Center tweeted. The cold snap will linger into next week, and more than 80% of the country could see below-freezing temperatures by Tuesday, Axios reported.

Isn’t climate change making winters warmer? Yes, the trend over time is for warmer winter temperatures with less snowfall. But “‘less cold’ does not mean ‘never cold,’” explains the Climate Reality Project. And when winter storms do hit, they’re likely to be more intense as global temperatures rise.

As Dr. Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist with the Woodwell Climate Research Center, explained to the Union of Concerned Scientists last year, warmer temperatures give weather systems “more fuel to work with in the form of water vapor and heat, more moisture, and as a result, these storms are dumping more precipitation.”

Green

Jessica Hullinger

Jessica Hullinger is a freelance writer and editor who likes to think deeply about climate science and sustainability. She previously served as Global Deputy Editor for The Week, and her writing has been featured in publications including Fast Company, Popular Science, and Fortune. Jessica is originally from Indiana but lives in London. Read More

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Sparks

Trump Thinks EV Charging Will Cost $3 Trillion — Which Is Incorrect

Nor will charging infrastructure ”bankrupt” the U.S.

Electric car charging.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Shortly after being fined $350 million (more than $450 million, including interest) over fraudulent business practices and then booed at Sneaker Con, former President Donald Trump traveled to Waterford, Michigan, where he said some incorrect things about electric vehicles.

Even by Trump’s recent standards, Saturday’s Waterford rally was a bit kooky. During his nearly hour-and-a-half-long speech, the former president claimed that his opponents are calling him a whale (“I don’t know if they meant a whale from the standpoint of being a little heavy, or a whale because I got a lot of money”) and, improbably, claimed not to have known what the word “indictment” meant.

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Sparks

This Chicken Named Potato Will Teach Your Kids About Climate Change

A chicken from the future, to be clear.

Future Chicken.
Heatmap Illustration/CBC, Getty Images

If I told you there was a chicken named Potato who was going to teach our kids about climate change, would you think I was kidding? Either way, I’m here to inform you that Future Chicken, an “ECOtainment platform” co-created by Catherine Winder and Annabel Slaight, launched last year, including original content like a TV show that airs on CBC and YouTube, games, and a podcast, all aimed at warding off climate doom and instead highlighting climate solutions.

Winder and Slaight have, to put it mildly, impressive resumes, with Slaight having been an executive producer of The Big Comfy Couch and Winder a force behind multiple Angry Birds movies. The show’s premise is fun, and was actually thought up by kids. The main character is a chicken (named Potato) from the year 2050, a time when climate change has seemingly been solved. She travels back and forth between the future and the present, sometimes talking about the solutions of her time.

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Sparks

Uncle Sam Is Helping Americans Buy 675 Electric Cars a Day

New Treasury data just dropped.

An EV charger.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Earlier this week, I was thinking to myself, how are we going to know how many people are actually taking advantage of the tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act?

When I put the question out on Twitter — I mean, X — I heard from Sam Hughes, a researcher inside the Treasury who pointed me to a section of the department’s website that contains data on tax credits by year. The problem is, it hasn’t been updated since 2020. But then today, as if to answer my prayers, I received a taste of the data I was looking for in my inbox.

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