Patricia, the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Western Hemisphere, slammed into the town of Emiliano Zapata in southern Mexico in October. Peak winds were 165 miles per hour. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that the 2015/2016 El Niño -- a causal factor in the ferocity of Patricia -- could foreshadow an indeterminate frequency, number and intensity of such storms in the Northern Hemisphere.
Wildfires in the U.S. West -- California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington -- were more severe and widespread this summer than in the past, burning or threatening millions of acres of land and thousands of homes. As wildfires increasingly imperil urban areas, they are putting more homes, lives and infrastructure at risk.