Photo Essay

  • A wildfire burns in the hills just north of the San Gabriel Valley community of Glendora, Calif., on Thursday, Jan 16, 2014.
  • A resident on the roof of a house talks on the phone as a wildfire burns in the hills just north of the San Gabriel Valley community of Glendora, Calif., Jan 16, 2014.
  • Commuters make their way along the 210 freeway as a wildfire burns in the hills just north of the San Gabriel Valley community of Glendora, Calif. Jan. 16, 2014.
  • Dead fish lie in the dry silt of Lake Arrowhead, one of the prime sources of water for the City of Wichita Falls, Texas, Jan. 6, 2014. An exceptional drought has caused area lake levels to drop and has forced the city to adopt emergency water restrictions.
  • Poland's Jerry Janowicz is sprayed with cool water at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Jan. 16, 2014. The Australian Open organizers implemented the Extreme Heat Policy when the temperature topped 43 C (109 F) and play was halted for just over fours on the outside courts.
  • Firefighters battle a devastating bushfire in Perth's hills on January 13, 2014 in Australia. Evacuated residents of Perth Hills are awaiting permission to access and inspect their properties after a bushfire blazed through the suburb, destroying more than 46 homes.
  • A firefighting aircraft dumps water on a brush fire alongside the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Monica, Jan. 14, 2014.
  • A teenager jumps from the jetty during a heat wave at Glenelg beach in Adelaide, Australia, Jan. 13, 2014.
  • Firefighters battle a wind-driven brush fire in Simi Valley, Calif., Dec. 25, 2013.
  • With the edge of Folsom Lake, Calif., more than 100 yards away, Gina, 8, left, and Sydney, 9, Gerety walk on rocks that are usually at the waters edge, Jan. 9, 2014. Reservoirs in the state have dipped to historic lows after one of the driest calendar years on record.
  • Melburnians keep cool at Brighton Beach in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 14, 2014.
  • In an effort to help their residents beat the 46 degree heat, keepers at Melbourne Zoo have been handing out a variety of iced treats.
  • A child plays in the water fountain in the heat during day four of the 2014 Australian Open.
  • Ice floes fill the Hudson River in New York City, Jan. 9, 2014.
  • Pedestrians brave wind and snow as they cross Fifth Avenue in New York,  Jan. 3, 2014.
  • Ice from breaking waves coats a house along the shore in Scituate, Mass., Jan. 3, 2014.
  • Ice forms around her Gail Davis's face as she exercises by walking outside in Minneapolis, Jan. 8, 2014.
  • A woman braces against the wind and cold as she walks in Montreal, Jan. 7, 2014.
  • The U.S. side of the Niagara Falls is pictured in Ontario, January 8, 2014.
  • Mist rises from Lake Michigan as temperatures dipped well below zero on January 6, 2014 in Chicago, Illinois.
  • A sedan sits encased in ice after firefighters battled a nearby fire in bitter cold below-zero temperatures in Louisville, Kentucky, Jan. 7, 2014.
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From one weather extreme to the other

From droughts to blizzards, Mother Nature has the globe experiencing extreme ends of the weather spectrum recently.

Monster blizzard “Hercules” swept across the United States during the first week of the new year, affecting more than 100 million people in a 700-mile stretch. As temperatures dropped below zero degrees, governors and mayors from the Midwest to the East Coast declared states of emergency and airports canceled flights, for days.

Additionally, the arctic air dipped deep into the middle of the country as Americans experienced a days-long “polar vortex.” Midwesterners felt the effects of record-breaking low temperatures.

Then, a drought forced areas on the West Coast to adopt emergency water restrictions. Recent low-water levels in California indicated the passing of one of the driest calendar years on record.

And fires erupted during the holiday season and into this month, prompting emergency aircraft to spray water on land in Australia, as well as in California.

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