Currently — May 26th, 2022

The weather, currently.

Recent tornadoes and severe storms in Michigan, Canada, and Germany have raised questions about what “normal” severe weather is in an era of rapid climate change.

Currently conducted a short review of the science of severe storms occurring more often in places on the northern extreme of what had previously been considered “normal” prior to the rapid climate change of the past few decades.

Over the weekend, the combination of terrifying video of a tornado from Paderborn in northern Germany that injured 43 people, a destructive and deadly EF3 tornado in Gaylord, Michigan — a city so far north it has no tornado sirens, and one of the worst windstorms in Canadian history all juxtaposed with unusually warm air for the month of May.

Michigan, southeast Canada, and New England are among the places in eastern North America least historically likely to experience severe weather. The windstorm moved across the most densely populated expanse of Canada, cutting power to 925,000 households and killing at least 10 people.

Scientists have been studying the connection between severe weather and climate change for decades, but only over the past ten years have robust trends begun to emerge. Tornado outbreaks (days with more than 10 tornadoes) are happening more often, even as overall tornado trends are stable. Tornadoes are also happening further eastward and northward in North America, and all types of severe weather are occurring more often at higher latitudes, like Canada and Europe, as the atmosphere grows warmer and more moist. Lightning storms have been recorded in recent years as far north as the Arctic Circle in Alaska and Canada.

—Eric Holthaus

What you need to know, currently.

The EPA announced today that it plans to issue a proposal blocking the Pebble Gold Mine and permanently protecting Alaska’s Bristol Bay, which provides more than half of the world’s salmon. The bay sits over a large store of gold, copper, and molybdenum—which is used in steel alloys.

The Obama administration issued a preemptive veto against the mine in 2014, which was then withdrawn by the Trump Administration’s EPA. Opponents of the mine noted that it would be the largest open pit mine in the country and pose serious dangers to the local watershed—threatening both the fishing industry and drinking water.

In 2020, environmental activists leaked recordings of executives insinuating that they had misrepresented the scale of the mine and planned to use any development in the Bristol Bay area as a route to opening up more mines in the region.

“They’ve lied to everyone about what this project looks like and what their intentions are,” Alannah Hurley, executive director of United Tribes of Bristol Bay, told the New York Times. “It’s time now for our elected leadership to stand up for Alaskans and stop this corrupt process.”