The United States fights climate disasters

Los Angeles (AFP) – Raging floods, devastating fires, powerful thunderstorms and a dangerous heat wave affecting a third of the population: the United States was beset by climate-related disasters on Tuesday.

A series of slow-motion disasters grips the country as it enters summer, with warnings of misery for months to come in some areas.

About 120 million people were put on some sort of advisory as a heatwave scorched the Upper Midwest and Southeast.

“A high pressure dome is expected to generate well above normal to record high temperatures in the region today and tomorrow,” with heat indices “well into the triple digits in many locations,” the National Weather Service said. (NWS). said.

Parts of Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio have been warned to expect the mercury to reach 109 degrees Fahrenheit (43 degrees Celsius).

NWS meteorologist Alex Lamers said the high-pressure dome was triggering extreme events around its periphery.

“A lot of times you have a pretty big heat wave and if you look around you’ll see thunderstorms and tornadoes, flash floods, extreme rainfall,” he told AFP.

Storms

The northern edge of the heat dome, where high temperatures collided with cooler air, experienced severe thunderstorms on Monday.

Hundreds of thousands of people were left without power across the Midwest after thunderstorms tore through the region.

This cold front was expected to bring more unsettled weather, with forecasts of hail and damaging winds.

A photo for distribution courtesy of the San Bernardino County Fire Department shows crews battling a fast-moving bushfire in Wrightwood, Calif., as extreme weather in June 2022 affects large parts of the United States. United – San Bernardino County Fire/AFP/File

Further west, dramatic photographs and videos released by the National Park Service showed the devastation caused by flooding in Yellowstone, the nation’s oldest national park.

The 3,400 square mile (8,900 square kilometer) park in Wyoming, home to the famous Old Faithful geyser, was closed on Monday after a flooding river washed out roads and cut off a nearby community.

Rangers warned of “extremely dangerous conditions” and told anyone still in the park to get out.

“Measured flood levels on the Yellowstone River are beyond record lows,” the NPS said on its website.

“Preliminary assessments show that several sections of roads throughout the park have been washed out or covered in mud or rocks, and several bridges may be affected.”

The small community of Gardiner, which sits just outside the park boundary in the state of Montana, was shut down, with water and power to several properties, the NPS said.

furnace

There were also excessive heat warnings for parts of California and Arizona, which were swept up in baking conditions over the weekend.

Soaring temperatures, coupled with a long drought, are worsening seasonal wildfires.

Two massive fires, each over 300,000 acres (120,000 hectares), continued to rage in New Mexico on Tuesday.

Firefighters battling the Black Fire and Hermits Peak Fire are struggling to contain the flames fueled by extremely dry undergrowth.

Children beat the heat at a water park in Imperial California, where temperatures hit 115 degrees on June 12, 2022
Children beat the heat at a water park in Imperial California, where temperatures hit 115 degrees on June 12, 2022 Sandy Huffaker GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File

New Mexico and much of the Southwest has been plagued by a punishing drought that has left rainfall levels below normal for years.

Dozens of other fires broke out across the region.

Wildfires are an expected part of the natural cycle, helping to clear dead plants and eliminate disease while promoting new growth.

But their size and ferocity have increased in recent years, firefighters say, as the effects of the crippling drought are felt.

“Dry conditions and gusty winds are expected to produce another day of high to critical fire weather in parts of the southwest through to the central and southern high plains,” the NWS said on its website. .

Fire chiefs are warning that 2022 is shaping up to be a terrible year for wildfires.

“Given the fuel conditions, the fire conditions that we’re talking about here, I’m anticipating four, five, six very difficult months ahead of us,” the Orange County, Calif., fire chief said last week. Brian Fennessey.

Scientists say global warming, which is mainly due to humanity’s uncontrolled burning of fossil fuels, is making extreme weather events more likely.

Lamer of the National Weather Service said that while it was difficult to conclude that climate change caused an individual episode, global warming was an underlying factor.

“Any weather event you’re looking for, there’s a combination of bad luck, the atmosphere has to be set up in a certain way,” he said.

“But they all happen in the context of climate, and basically climate change is loading the dice and making more extreme outcomes more likely.”