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The West Is Sweltering due to Massive Wildfires

The West is continually being affected by extreme heat waves. The heat together with drought and lightning strikes, has set fire to more than a million acres of land in California, Oregon, Washington & Canada. This blaze has smog obscuring the skies for thousands of miles.

Records show that another series of strong high-pressure areas, informally known as “heat-domes” has set up across the west. While it was not quite intense, it still set record-breaking temperatures.

  • The warmest daily low temperature for U.S was set on Sunday at Stovepipe Wells, California at 107.7°F
  • Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, registered all time high temperatures of 117°F, that tied with the National Weather Service Statement
  • The Grand Junction Colorado, recorded its all-time high temperature of 107°F on July 9th, where record dates back to 1893
  • The Bootleg Fire in Oregon as of Sunday, covered 150,812 acres of land, after it doubled in size for three consecutive days. It was forecasted to see an "extreme" growth rate as temperatures climbed on Sunday afternoon.
  • Mariposa & Madera Counties in California saw 4,000 acres of fast-growing River Fire on Sunday that forced evacuations.

Canada’s Interagency Forest Fire Center heightened its preparedness level to 5, that is top of scale, noting, “Active agencies may take emergency measures to sustain incident operations."

  • The diverse ecosystem, comprising of temperate rainforests, to the boreal region that rings the Arctic, are experiencing dozens of wildfires.
  • In Canada, fires erupted when a huge, slow-moving heat dome stalled over southwestern British Columbia in late June into early July, breaking all-time heat records and killing hundreds.
  • In the U.S, firefighting agencies are on high alert due to massive wildfires burning in multiple states. Two firefighters lost their lives due to a plane crash on Saturday while they were on aerial reconnaissance in Cedar Basin Fire in northwest Arizona.
  • The Bootleg Fire poses a grave threat to Path 66, which is the largest electricity supplier in between Pacific Northwest and California and provides a total of 4,800 megawatts of electricity.

Flow of electricity was reduced due to the fires on Friday and Saturday. Gavin Newsom government signed an executive order to relieve the grid stress and a “Flex Alert” to conserve power. Throughout the west, drought conditions have created tinderbox dry conditions. This includes high elevation forests, extending the length of the peak wildfire season.

As compared to 2020, twice as many acres of land have burned so far this year in California and this is despite 2020 being recorded as the worst wildfire year. Incident commander Al Lawson mentioned on Sunday that, this was one of the most extreme fire patterns that firefighters have witnessed before. Global warming caused by humans is the prime reason for such severity, longevity and frequency of heatwaves in the American West and other parts of the world.

Additionally, studies reveal that the West is experiencing more frequent and intense wildfires as climate change alters precipitation patterns and the timing of dry and wet seasons respectively. Due to climate change these fires last for a longer period and are causing extreme weather conditions such as high temperatures, strong winds & extremely low humidity.

Health advisories will issue warnings in Central Valley of California, where farm laborers have been working in harmful conditions. However, temperature forecast to be few degrees lower than they were on the weekend. Other parts of the west are subjected to the heat warning as well. Records that fall are likely daily records than all-time milestones. There is no end to the hot and dry weather pattern across the west.