Currently — August 18th, 2022

The weather, currently.

A spectacular display of the aurora borealis — the Northern Lights — is possible on Wednesday and Thursday night.

According to, sunspot region AR3078 has hurled multiple waves of solar material towards the Earth in recent days, enough to trigger a “geomagnetic storm” — an effect of which is the green, gray, and red dancing lights in the northern sky as the sun’s charged plasma interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field.

Pending cloud cover, the National Weather Service says that regions of the US as far south as Oregon, Iowa, and Pennsylvania could see Northern Lights over the next few nights. The best time to go outside and check is around local midnight — try to go to a dark area north of any nearby cities and look to the north near the horizon. You may need to use a long-duration setting on a camera if they are too faint for the naked eye.

-Eric Holthaus

What you need to know, currently.

Every winter, atmospheric rivers flow off the Pacific ocean towards California, many of them carrying more suspended water through the air than the largest terrestrial rivers on earth. In 1862 a series of atmospheric rivers proved disastrous for the Western United States, bringing catastrophic and unprecedented flooding to Oregon, California, and Nevada.

In 2010, scientists began a study they called the ArkStorm Scenario, named for the biblical flood, to account for the effect of climate change on these worst case scenarios floods.

According to the geologic record, these floods — caused by a quick succession of atmospheric rivers — occur every 150 to 200 years in California. A new study in Science Advances suggests that climate change has doubled the chances of this kind of catastrophic flooding occurring within the next four decades.

“The last time government agencies studied a hypothetical California megaflood, more than a decade ago, they estimated it could cause $725 billion in property damage and economic disruption,”  writes Raymond Zhong in the New York Times. “That was three times the projected fallout from a severe San Andreas Fault earthquake, and five times the economic damage from Hurricane Katrina, which left much of New Orleans underwater for weeks in 2005.”