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Extreme Weather Having Effects Worldwide

One thing many people check before heading out the door is the weather report. Lately, the weather in many regions gives us more to think about than just whether to take an umbrella.

We expect uncomfortably hot temperatures in midsummer, even violent weather in certain areas. But this year, North America has been hit by some unusually wild, record-setting storms.

Matthew Lopez is Chief of Emergency Management in Escambia County, Florida. "This is the most active tropical storm season and hurricane season we've seen in the history of North America."

Florida resident Shannon Bartell agrees. "So it's been scary today. I've never been this scared in my whole life."

Recently, Hurricane Dennis roared through the U.S. southern state of Florida, with 193-kilometer winds. Tropical Storm Emily is expected to hit land in the next few days. Emily is a record-setting fifth named-storm this season.

Some hurricanes affecting North America's East Coast typically originate in the Atlantic Ocean near the African coast. Strong winds from Africa mixing with the warm ocean air can destabilize the air sufficiently to cause thunderstorms, and later, hurricanes.

Hurricanes and floods aren't the only weather concerns. Drought conditions are also prevalent in some parts of the world, causing some, like Illinois farmer Mark Yonkers, to worry. "Normally, the leaves will all be opened up, and a lot fuller looking than what it is."

The U.S. corn crop is in its key pollination stage, and needs rain. But Illinois, the second largest corn-producing U.S. state, is experiencing its worst drought in 20 years.

France, too, is in the midst of a drought, leading authorities to call for water restrictions.

Deputy Director of French weather forecast center Meteo-France Alain Ratier says, "The main part which is severely affected is the western part of France, the southwestern part in fact where we have a lot of difficulties with agriculture..."

Severe weather has hit Europe hard this summer. Fires from hot, dry weather in some regions, and heavy floods in others have killed dozens.

Extreme weather also hurts the global economy. Hurricane Dennis caused significant damage to an oil platform on the Gulf Coast, and extended periods of drought will cause produce prices to rise.

But the main concern is the immediate damage, injury and even death severe weather can bring, driving some to despair:

One hurricane victim says, "I think we're cursed. I think someone doesn't want us to live here."