The western United States continued to swelter in extreme temperatures on Wednesday, with the risk of power outages in California, whose power grid has buckled in the face of a week-long heat wave that has battered the region.
California, as well as parts of Nevada and Arizona, are facing hotter temperatures, flirting with 45°C in some places, due to the heat dome in the area. According to the National Weather Service, Mercury still hasn’t reached its peak on Wednesday and Thursday.
Amid this suffocating situation, several large fires are ravaging the region, two of which are already dangerous.
In Northern California, the “Mill Fire” killed two people, destroyed more than a hundred buildings, and devastated more than 1600 hectares in Siskiyou County.
The “Fairview Fire,” southeast of Los Angeles, is out of control after it continues to grow and kill two people, according to firefighters. Since Monday, the fire has ravaged more than 2000 hectares.
According to meteorologists, the mercury should drop from Friday thanks to the arrival of a cold air front from Canada. But the event brings the risk of violent winds capable of fanning the flames in the western United States.
“This cold front will also produce strong winds” in the American West, the National Weather Service explained in a press release. “Combined with relatively low humidity, this could trigger the risk of new fire starts and existing fires spreading out of control.”
In Montana, wind gusts of 95 km/h are possible, according to the Storm Prediction Center.
In California, more than 10,000 residents were ordered to evacuate their homes to protect themselves from the “Fairview Fire,” but many ignored the warning, according to Riverside County police, who took their officers door-to-door trying to convince them. Denial.
“People need to take this very seriously, given the speed of the spread, and that’s why we’re expanding the evacuation zone, because with the changes in the wind, the weather is unpredictable, and the fire is moving fast,” local sheriff’s spokeswoman Brandi Swan told the Los Angeles Times.
Battered by drought for more than 20 years, the American West is particularly vulnerable to wildfires, which have intensified in recent years.
According to scientists, global warming emphasizes extreme events: heat waves are more frequent and intense, and storms are more violent and unpredictable, sometimes with heavy rain.
According to climatologists, this series of extreme episodes is becoming more common, and the weekend could provide a new example.
In the American Southwest, the forecast promises heavy rain after the mercury falls on Friday. A hurricane is moving past Mexico that could bring up to 6 inches of rain to parts of Arizona and California.
“This amount of rain could cause flash flooding here and there, especially in areas already ravaged by fires,” the National Weather Service warned.
Meanwhile, the heat wave continues to put pressure on the power grid in California, due to record air conditioning demand.
The grid regulator, California ISO, on Tuesday refrained from resorting to voluntary blackouts. In recent days, several warnings have been issued asking households to limit their consumption between 4 pm and 9 pm.
Californians are therefore asked to avoid recharging their electric vehicles, set air conditioning below 25.5°C and avoid using their major energy-consuming appliances during this time period.
During the day, all solar panels typically provide about one-third of California’s electricity. But when the sun goes down, the supply of photovoltaic energy is suddenly interrupted, taking away other sources of electricity – a problem in the evening, when the heat of the day has not yet subsided, pushing demand through the wind. conditioning.
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