(Bloomberg) -- Wildfires in Canada that burned continuously for over a year. Floods that brought Dubai to a standstill. Deadly heat blanketing the streets of New Delhi. The first half of 2024 has laid bare the catastrophic extremes that now characterize the rapidly changing climate on every continent.

This week, millions of people along the eastern seaboard of the US — the country’s most populated coastal region — will swelter under a heat dome. Temperatures in Manhattan’s Central Park are set to reach 95F (35C) by Friday. At the southern end of the coast, meanwhile, Florida is in its second week of battling torrential rainfall so intense near Sarasota that it has odds of occurring just once in 500 to 1,000 years. Damages could top $1 billion.

Listen on Zero: How to Make Sense of Weird Weather Everywhere

A new era of extreme rain prompted the US National Academy of Sciences on Tuesday to recommend a major reboot of the country’s “probable maximum precipitation” estimates, which guide infrastructure development. They haven’t been updated since 1999 nationally, and in some cases not for 60 years. More than 16,000 at-risk dams and 50 nuclear power plants, all of them aging, face new extremes.

The report lays out ways to use modern climate models to update the analysis to account for global warming. It’s an acknowledgment that “super-wild weather” is entering a new phase and the US has to be prepared, says John Nielsen-Gammon, a professor at Texas A&M University and the state's climatologist, who co-authored the study.

The weather is no longer an even roll of the dice. It’s more like throwing loaded dice that have sixes on three sides — or sevens and eights, says Katharine Hayhoe, a distinguished professor at Texas Tech University who studies climate impacts. The term “global warming” itself suggests a kind of predictability that may no longer suit the times. “These days I think it’s much more appropriate to call it ‘global weirding,’” Hayhoe says. “Wherever we live, our weather is getting much weirder.”

Greenhouse gas pollution made last year 1.3C hotter than before the Industrial Revolution. This past May marked the 12th-consecutive month of record-breaking average temperatures for the planet, and the oceans have registered new levels of heat every day for over a year. That’s caused freak rain and hail, more destructive storms and even unexpected cold snaps — London, Paris and Berlin and other parts of Europe saw temperatures earlier in June drop below levels from last Christmas Eve.

But it’s the heat and associated droughts, floods and wildfires that have become the more prolific indicator of today’s weird, wild weather. The threat of infernos is at extreme levels in Greece and Spain, with risks spreading to the French Riviera. Thermometers in Egypt flirted with a record-high 51C (124F) earlier this month. Floods have damaged infrastructure and threatened crops in China, while much of South Asia has faced temperatures that tested the limits of the human body. Extreme heat in Gaza worsened the humanitarian crisis. A deluge of rain after years of drought in East Africa claimed hundreds of lives and swept away livestock.

Erich Fischer, a climate scientist at ETH Zurich, has been trying to do for heat something similar to what US researchers want to do for precipitation. His work in recent years has helped demonstrate that temperature records around the world are falling by greater and greater margins, meaning there’s “increasing probability of record-shattering climate extremes,” as he wrote with co-authors in a 2021 paper.

Fischer’s research essentially predicted the extremely rare 2021 heat wave that hit western North America, when the region experienced its hottest June on record and 1,400 people died. A study Fischer led last year identified places that might have undetected potential for heat waves of that magnitude. His danger list included Paris, which will host more than 1 million visitors for the Summer Olympic Games.

“Now that we know that these events become more frequent, we should expect to see more of these jumps,” Fisher says. With the realization that impossible weather was now in many ways possible, he says he’s been investigating the next logical question: “What is really the biggest event that people need to prepare for?”

Based on the first five months of 2024, it’s become certain this year will end as one of the five warmest on record. There’s now a more than 60% chance that it will overtake 2023 to top the list.

Part of what drove temperatures higher through the first half of 2024, and helped boost extremes, was the fading El Niño, a heating of the equatorial Pacific that warms the globe. Additional heat has come from a counterintuitive change: Regulations meant to clean up pollution from shipping began to reduce the emission of sulfur which — though harmful to health — can also help cool the atmosphere by blocking sunlight.

Scientists warn that the danger ahead isn’t just from supercharged weather catastrophes. A warmer planet increases the chances of “compound events,” where multiple disasters — natural and manmade — occur at the same time or place, exacerbating their combined impact.

A prime example can be found in Texas, where high temperatures contributed to the state’s largest-ever wildfire. Abnormally dry conditions in the Canadian province of Alberta translated into an early start to fire season.

In other cases, impacts spread across borders. In March, Saharan dust storms blew north, turning skies yellow and orange in Sicily and degrading air quality from Greece, through Italy, to France, which also saw intense rain. Spiking food and energy prices have also overlapped with harsh weather conditions, for example, magnifying the consequences of the yearslong drought in Syria, Iraq and Iran.

“The common denominator here is rising temperatures,” says Amir AghaKouchak, a professor at University of California at Irvine who has studied the future risk of compound events. “Temperature has increased significantly, and it’s contributing to all of [the disasters] and it's intensifying maybe the relationship between different hazards.”

Some areas have also had to deal with different extremes in quick succession. The Philippines shut down schools and power plants in April as temperatures soared. Now the government has warned increased rainfall could hurt the country’s food supply as El Niño ends and cooler conditions take hold. Forest fires in February killed more than 100 people in Chile, where historic downpours are currently causing chaos in the region’s typically dry climate.

Extreme weather can become novel just by lasting for previously unexpected lengths of time. In Southeast Asia, for example, climate change now means heat waves can last for months. Prolonged flooding left more than 500 dead in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi.

Renzo Guinto, an associate professor of planetary health at the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, worries that affected nations are mostly focused on responding to immediate health dangers and risk ignoring underlying causes. “What we now need, in an era of multiple extreme weather phenomena, is to be less reactive and more anticipatory,” he says. “We are just perpetuating a vicious cycle of emissions and extreme events, and the ultimate victims of this cycle are human beings.”

This year’s weird weather has wreaked havoc on every corner of the global economy, from power grids to air travel.

A study published in Nature in April projected climate damages could cost the global economy $38 trillion (in 2005 dollars) per year by 2049, overshadowing the estimated $6 trillion needed to cut planet-warming emissions in line with the goals of the Paris Agreement. Spending on clean technologies hit a record $1.8 trillion in 2023, according to BloombergNEF, still far short of what’s needed.

It doesn’t help that some of the world’s most-ambitious climate policies are under attack in Europe and the US as voters push back on gas stove phase-outs and sustainable farming measures. Emerging markets, which will need to make the biggest leap to clean energies, are struggling to win a bigger share of global green investments.

Still, it’s not enough to just focus on cutting emissions, says Rohit Magotra, deputy director at Integrated Research and Action for Development, a climate consultancy and research firm based in New Delhi. Rapid urbanization means these weather disasters are increasingly devastating, and cities in developing nations need to build early warning systems and climate-proof infrastructure so they can be more resilient.

“Extreme weather events are getting more intense and more frequent. The geographies that they impact are also widening, hitting some of the most vulnerable people in the world,” Magotra says. “Adaptation is as critical as mitigation.”

--With assistance from Aaron Clark, Audrey Wan, Rajesh Kumar Singh and Jack Wittels.

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.