Melting permafrost in Antarctica threatened the Global Seed Bank. Meltwater found its way into the entrance and was discovered last month. Fortunately, the water didn’t harm any seeds. The Global Seed Bank is meant to serve as a reserve in case of a catastrophic event. It contains thousands of seeds from important food crops in case those crops become otherwise extinct. It was meant to operate without human interaction, but people now have to watch it 24 hours a day.
16 people have been killed after serious thunderstorms in Russia. Additionally, 150 people were injured. It was the deadliest storm Moscow had suffered in over a hundred years. Severe flooding in Sri Lanka has left over 163 dead and 500,000 people displaced. The death toll continues to rise and could rise as high as 223 as there are 97 people still unaccounted for. This is the worst storm since May 2013, where a monsoon with similar power killed over 250 people and destroyed 10,000 homes. Last month, Quebec and Ontario suffered over $1 billion estimated damage, as well as 14 deaths due to intense flooding. That devastating total adds to the $4 billion estimated damages in the US this month, with huge, softball-sized hail stones in Denver, Colorado causing over $1.4 billion in damage. There was also intense wind, thunderstorms that spawned tornados and deluges throughout the American Midwest in May. In the Plains, a serious dust storm caused multiple car accidents including one fatal accident. It’s hard to get a sense of how much damage might have occurred in those collisions as many serious non-fatal collisions result in lifelong soft-tissue injuries. We often think of the human toll of these storms strictly in terms of loss of life, but we shouldn’t forget the many who lose the quality thereof. We don’t think about how the lives of survivors are affected. With $5 billion of damages across the US, there is undoubtedly serious impacts on peoples’ quality of lives. Many people lost everything and will be paid out by insurance, but the trauma can be very real and very devastating. That’s at least $5 billion in North America alone, and the Sri Lanka flooding may just be a harbinger of what’s to come.
A serious wildfire scorched more than 2,000 acres (809 hectares) in May. Strong winds and dry conditions helped it to spread quickly and force many people to leave their homes. Sometimes the size of the fire is not as significant as the damage it does. A relatively small, 40 acre (16.19 hectare) wildfire near Leavenworth, Washington gutted 168 homes. In Polk County, Florida, a massive wildfire burned over 8,000 acres (3,237 hectares) in an area where there were unexploded ordinances. Fortunately, there are no reports that any houses burned down or of any explosions.