By morning on Tuesday, more than 1M people across the Midwest were powerless as a massive storm swept across the country's midsection.
Multiple deaths have been reported and extreme flooding across Michigan, Pennsylvania and Indiana. Next under the gun is the East Coast as the massive storm marches eastward.
Midwest Battered by Storms, with the East Coast Next Under the Bullseye
Heavy rains, hail and winds gusting more than 80MPH tore through states in the Midwest last night, and in the aftermath over 1M people were left without power.
Three people are reported dead, including a 14-year-old girl who died after touching a downed powerline, an Ohio woman who was killed by a falling tree, and an 11-year-old boy who was swept into a storm drain and drowned.
A pair of brothers was hospitalized after trying to swing on a live powerline, and one woman was hospitalized after trying to save the 11-year-old who died in the storm drain.
USA Today reports, "More than 500,000 power customers were in the dark in Indiana at the height of the storm Monday night, although the number was less than 20,000 Tuesday morning. In Michigan, more than 640,000 homes and businesses remained without power at sunrise Tuesday, according to the tracking website PowerOutage.
Consumers Energy, which provides electricity to more than half of Michigan residents, said 350 crews were working to restore power. Downed trees, limbs and power lines were reported in more than three dozen counties.
The company said it hoped a majority of homes and businesses left in the dark would have power restored by Wednesday night."
Indiana and Michigan experienced the strongest winds, with recorded 81-MPH gusts, with outages and storm effects ranging into New York as the storm moved eastward.
AccuWeather reports, "AccuWeather forecasters stated that the front will shift east on Tuesday, setting up potentially dangerous weather across parts of the Northeast, particularly the Interstate 81 corridor in the Appalachians and Great Lakes region, as well as parts of northern New England.
Threats from the storms Tuesday will include lightning strikes, localized flooding downpours and winds that could gust up to 80 mph. Tuesday evening, the storms will push into the Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Philadelphia areas."
Is Climate Change Making the Weather More Dangerous?
Every time a massive storm rolls through, the debate starts again: is Climate Change to blame for the more frequent, more severe storms impacting the world?
The simple answer is: yes and no. National Geographic writes, "Torrential hurricanes, devastating droughts, crippling ice storms, and raging heat waves—all are extreme weather phenomena that can claim lives and cause untold damage. Climate change influences severe weather by causing longer droughts and higher temperatures in some regions and more intense deluges in others, say climate experts. Among the most vulnerable are communities in exposed mountain and coastal regions. In those settings worldwide, citizens are adjusting to new weather realities by strengthening warning, shelter, and protection systems."
Experts caution against blaming every extreme weather event on Climate Change, but they are certainly becoming more frequent as the planet warms. In some areas, torrential rains lead to mudslides and floods because the ground is too dry or too saturated. In others, increased hurricane intensity sets coastal cities up for disaster. And a warming planet is bad for our bellies too. As temperatures rise, crops we rely on can't grow - even a few degree temperature changes can be devastating for vulnerable crops. And even if we could switch to a more meat-rich diet, those animals would need crops to eat. Crops struggling to survive in warmer temps are being wiped out by high winds or flooding, with a series of multi-event disaster for much of the world.
Humans are struggling to keep up as the planet shifts, but human activity is part of what's accelerating the changes. Whether the storms are created by climate change or made more frequent and severe by it amounts to much of the same thing - costly repairs, lives lost, and an uncertain future.