Kentucky flooding leaves at least 8 dead

Pam Boling surveys the damage to her home from floodwaters in Wayland, Kentucky, following a day of heavy rain on July 28.
Pam Boling surveys the damage to her home from floodwaters in Wayland, Kentucky, following a day of heavy rain on July 28. (Pat McDonogh/USA Today Network)

At least three people have died in flooding hitting eastern Kentucky on Thursday, with state officials warning there could be more deaths coming as rescue efforts continue.

At the same time, in other parts of the US, flash drought conditions are intensifying across the southern Plains, according to the latest US Drought Monitor released Thursday morning.

“Temperatures across the region were generally 2-8 degrees warmer than normal, with the warmest readings occurring in Oklahoma, Texas, northern Arkansas, and the western half of Tennessee,” the US Drought Monitor wrote.

Hot and dry weather also covered south-central and southwest Missouri, where flash drought intensified and agricultural problems continued.

“Just to the north of this region, heavier rains fell in two areas, one from southeast of Kansas City to southeast Missouri, and a second in central, eastern, and northeast Missouri. The latter caused flash flooding in the St. Louis area and a record one-day rainfall at St. Louis Lambert Airport,” the US Drought Monitor wrote in their report.

This rainfall, and now the flooding in Kentucky, has created a sharp contrast across the state between absolutely no drought in the north and extreme drought across the southern portion of the state.

This is the inherent nature of the climate crisis: There will be more extremes on both ends of the spectrum — flooding and drought. This week has shown they can happen at the same time in close proximity.

Climate change is on course to transform life on Earth as we know it, and unless global warming is dramatically slowed, billions of people and other species will reach points where they can no longer adapt to the new normal, according to a major UN-backed report, based on years of research from hundreds of scientists said.

The report, published in February, found that the impacts from human-caused climate change were larger than previously thought. The report’s authors say these impacts are happening much faster and are more disruptive and widespread than scientists expected 20 years ago.

Around half of the world’s population experiences severe water scarcity each year in part due to climate-related factors, the report showed. Water will become even more scarce at higher global temperatures.

At 2 degrees of warming — which scientists predict the planet will reach by midcentury — as many as three billion people around the world will experience “chronic water scarcity,” according to the report. It increases to four billion people at 4 degrees.

Water shortages will put enormous pressure on food production and increase the world’s already dire food-security challenges.

keep reading about how we are running out of ways to adapt.

CNN’s Rachel Ramirez contributed reporting to this post.

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