Eastern Russia has been experiencing widespread and intense spring wildfires, thanks to a drier than normal autumn and winter, leading to parched vegetation. As of 17 May, nearly 700 fires had been recorded across 40 territories with about 400 considered extinguished, according to the Russian Federal Forest Agency. As stated by the Global Fire Emissions database, the Amur Oblast region has experienced the most fires per month since 2008.
An outbreak of strong thunderstorms caused an estimated five deaths in the north-east US on 15 May, during the first occurrence of severe spring storms for that region this year. Strong winds, hail and heavy downpours caused most of the damage, although there were also reports of tornadoes in New York state. Many places were struck during the busy evening commute, which enhanced the disruption.
The Kilauea volcano in Hawaii has been periodically erupting since early May, and the latest, on Tuesday, sent its plume an estimated 9,000ft (2743 metres) into the sky. Last week, stronger eruptions produced an ash cloud as high as 30,000ft, prompting aircraft warnings. Given the unpredictability of volcanic eruptions, there is no sure way of knowing when the effects of lava, ash and toxic gases will cease.