Currently — May 16th, 2022

The weather, currently.

Hurricane season is just around the corner. In the Atlantic basin (which includes the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean), hurricane season officially begins on June 1st.

For the past seven years in a row, there’s been a named tropical storm or hurricane before the season officially began, and this year could bring that streak to eight. Weather models are hinting at a possible storm in the Gulf of Mexico in about 5-8 days, though the chances of it actually materializing are still quite small.

Sunday marks the first day of routine tropical weather outlooks for hurricane season issued by the National Weather Service. Every six hours from now until November 30, the National Hurricane Center, based in Miami, will give us updates on any areas that pose a threat of storm formation — and their first outlook did not mention the possible Gulf storm.

One thing’s for sure, this season is shaping up to be another potentially hyperactive and destructive season. La Niña — a periodic cooling of the tropical Pacific Ocean that tends to cause increased hurricane activity in the Atlantic — is back, and is expected to continue into hurricane season.

— Eric Holthaus

What you need to know, currently.

Yes, the megadrought in the American West and Southern California is still ongoing. Page, Arizona could lose its city’s water supply if water levels in Lake Powell, which is now just 24% full, drops too low; the water levels of Lake Mead in Nevada, which supplies water to over 40 million people in seven different states, have dropped so far that it’s coughing out skeletons; wetlands are drying and the fish wildlife are in danger.

But, all is not lost. Southwest cities like San Diego, Phoenix and Las Vegas are adapting— and even thriving— amid the drought, strategizing new ways to conserve and source water, according to reporting by Yale Environment 360.

They’ve replaced their lawns with native vegetation to reduce their environmental footprint and support native animals, implemented water recycling and installed low-flow plumbing fixtures.

Communities are slowly, but surely piecing together a resilience to the risks they’re facing with climate change and the aridification of North America. As water scarcity intensifies and and these cities’ populations continue to increase, they’ve still been able to adapt. So much so, that they’ve been able accommodate population growth, while reducing their water use and in turn, separating the need for more water from growth.

For example, San Diego has a water conservation plan dating back to the nineties. According to Yale Environment 360, the city’s water use dropped from 81.5 billion gallons in 2007 to 57 billion gallons in 2020 and nine cities surveyed in the Colorado River Basin lowered their water demand between 19 and 48% from 2000 to 2015.

The city requires water-saving technology and paid homeowners to replace their water-greedy yards with water-efficient landscaping.

Similarly, homeowners in Phoenix have ripped out water-greedy shrubbery from their lawns, resulting in a drop in water use.

While the only long term solution to fight the climate crisis is to eliminate our reliance on fossil fuels. These mitigation and resilience building solutions are hopeful and a necessary piece of the puzzle.

— Aarohi Sheth