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People cool themselves at the fountain of the Louvre Pyramid in Paris on July 25, as a heatwave continues across northern Europe, with wildfires breaking out in northern Scandanavia and Greece. BERTRAND GUAY / AFP / Getty Images

Climate change increased the odds of northern Europe's current heatwave, according to a preliminary assessment from scientists.

"We estimate that the probability to have such a heat or higher is generally more than two times higher today than if human activities had not altered climate," according to World Weather Attribution, an international network of researchers who conduct analyses of real-time extreme weather events and its possible connection to climate change.

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A man wipes perspiration from his head in Tokyo on July 24, 2018, as Japan suffers from a heatwave. Martin Bureau / Getty Images

Hot, dry and fiery conditions are being seen by many parts of the globe right now. This includes Japan, where the nation's meteorological agency just declared the extreme heat a "natural disaster."

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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

"Hot temperatures will continue for many of us into July 4th. Here's a look at the forecast high temperatures for Wednesday." @NWS / Twitter

The National Weather Service (NWS) predicts that the "dangerous" heat wave sizzling the central and eastern U.S. will persist through Independence Day.

More than 113 million Americans are under heat warnings or advisories, Reuters reported, citing Patrick Burke, a meteorologist with the NWS Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland.

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U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. Gage Skidmore / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

A group of Republican senators are calling for an investigation of the National Science Foundation (NSF) over a program that "[turns] television meteorologists into climate change evangelists," according to a Wednesday press release from the office of Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas).

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Astronaut Randy Bresnik took this photo of Tropical Storm Harvey from the International Space Station. Flickr

With weather and climate disasters becoming more destructive and costlier than ever, accurate and reliable weather forecasting is absolutely critical to protect life and property.

However, President Trump's 2019 White House budget proposes to cut National Weather Service (NWS) funding by about 8 percent, a decrease of just over $75 million. It also proposes a reduction of 355 positions, including 248 forecasting jobs.

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Editor's Note: As of 7:30 am EST Thursday the California mudslides death toll has risen to 17. Southern California, which just endured the largest wildfire in state history, is being bombarded by flooding and destructive mudslides triggered by torrential downpours.

The "waist-high" mud destroyed homes, uprooted trees and washed away dozens of cars in Santa Barbara County, CNN reported.

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The Thomas Fire burns in the hills above Los Padres National Forest in Dec. 2017. Forest Service / Stuart Palley

2017, one of the hottest years in modern history, was also an extremely costly year. According to a new report from the National Centers for Environmental Information, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), "the U.S. experienced 16 weather and climate disasters with losses exceeding $1 billion, with total costs of approximately $306 billion—a new U.S. annual record."

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The lakefront city of Erie, Pa. has been inundated by several feet of snow this week, “shattering many records," the National Weather Service said.

The historic storm—a whopping 62.9 inches since Dec. 23, with more flakes to come—prompted the city's police department to declare a “Snow Emergency" due to dangerous and impassable roads.

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By Dr. Jeff Masters and Bob Henson

Ex-Hurricane Ophelia hit Ireland hard with full hurricane-like fury on Monday, bringing powerful winds that caused widespread damage and power outages. At least two deaths have been reported from trees falling on cars, and The Irish Times said at least 360,000 ESB Networks customers lost power in Ireland because of the storm.

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Pacific Ocean sunset in San Diego. Michael Matti / Flickr

By Tim Radford

It is official. The world is warming according to expectations. The so-called and much debated "pause" in global warming is over. And the culprit that tried to cool the planet in spite of ever-rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

Blame it on the Pacific Ocean. It went into a not-so-hot phase, part of a long-term natural cycle, which has now come to an end. This explains the apparent slowdown in the rate of global warming. The verdict comes from the UK Met Office, which is host to the oldest continuous record of temperatures in the world, and which pioneered weather science.

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Photo credit: Flickr

Chicago—a city well known for its windy and snowy winters—is experiencing some unusually warm weather. For the first time in 146 years, there was no documented snow on the ground in January and February, according to the local National Weather Service.

January and February are usually the coldest months of the year. As NBC News noted, the city usually averages more than 40 inches of snow per winter and prepares for months to handle with the onslaught of snow with its fleet of snow plows and salt trucks that service more than 280 snow routes.

But the last measurable day of snow was on Christmas Day when two inches covered the ground. In fact, from Feb. 17-22, Chicago set new winter records with six consecutive days of temperatures in the high 60s to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Flowers are even emerging in some areas, and that's not a good thing. Early blossoms could wilt before they can be pollinated or could be vulnerable to frost if the temperatures should drop, which would be devastating for fruit growers.

While many Chicagoans were probably very happy to skip out on shoveling sidewalks for these past two months, some worry that the freak weather is related to climate change.

"This is occurring against a backdrop of a changing climate," WGN-TV meteorologist Tom Skilling told the Chicago Tribune. "I think the door is open to additional unusual weather events as we go forward."

Chicago is not alone in seeing bizarre winter weather. Meteorologists have seen dozens of heat records broken across the U.S. in February. In Oklahoma, temperatures hit a record 99 degrees Fahrenheit, more than 40 degrees above the average February high. Texas, Kansas and Colorado also recorded all-time highs.

Other climate scientists also say that warm temperatures and snow-droughts such as these could be due to natural weather variances that have nothing to do with climate change.

That said, the National Weather Service forecasts a slight chance of snow in Chicago this Thursday as severe thunderstorms are expected to move through Illinois this week.

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