Violent storms and droughts ravage parts of Europe and Asia

New blasts of extreme weather are taking a toll around the globe Friday. The latest in a series of fierce heat waves has moved into the U.S. Northwest and heavy rains and droughts have spread over portions of Europe and Asia. William Brangham has our report.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    New blasts of extreme weather are taking a toll around the globe tonight. The latest in a series of fierce heat waves has moved into the U.S. Northwest, and violent storms and drought are ravaging parts of Europe and Asia.

    William Brangham has our report.

  • William Brangham:

    In cities across France, sheets of rain and hail pound the streets, trees are uprooted in backyards, and people wade through stormwaters overflowing onto sidewalks.

    These extreme events, which climate scientists say are increasingly being driven by a warming world, are spreading wider and wider. In Germany, it's been the opposite. An extreme drought has shrunk some of the nation's major rivers, snarling cargo traffic, as ships struggle to navigate increasingly narrow channels.

    New satellite images show the before-and-after of a nearly dry Rhine River. The storms inundating France are expected in the coming days. And while those rains could help the Rhine, they have already taken seven lives in France and Italy; 140 mile-an-hour winds hit the island of Corsica just off the coast of those two nations.

    While experts say the storms are something of a reprieve from drought, this volume is too much to handle.

    Eric Sauquet, French National Institute for Agriculture, Food and Environment (through translator): We were waiting for precipitation, but not with this much intensity.

  • William Brangham:

    Over 4,000 miles away, in China, another drought is under way. Facing months of heat waves, residents of Chongqing in the Sichuan province say the wind now just blows heat.

  • Person (through translator):

    I feel like I'm standing on a gas stove.

  • William Brangham:

    The Yangtze River has shrunk to half its normal width. Farmers that rely on the river for their crops say the heat and drought are destroying their harvest.

  • Chen Xiaohua, Farmer (through translator):

    Those scorched, you see. It certainly cannot grow, the high temperatures slowly roasting sweet potato leaves to death.

  • William Brangham:

    These extremes are seen most clearly in the Arctic. New research shows parts of that region are warming four and in some places seven times faster than previously known.

    For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm William Brangham.

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