A heat wave with temperatures that in some cities exceed the 46 degree celsius is hitting the southwest of USA, which at the same time lives a situation of critical drought and prepares for what could be another big fire season.
In total, some 40 million people are under an “excessive heat alert” according to the US National Weather Service. in the states of Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah and Colorado.
The desert of Death Valley, in California, where the lowest point in North America is located, came to register in recent days temperatures above 50 degrees.
Some curious even fried eggs on the asphalt, as they shared in videos on social networks.
Firefighters fight the flames in Cascadel Woods, California, in a September 2020 image. Photo: AFP
In fact, according to the United States Drought Monitor, lhe current conditions are the most extreme in the last two decades and the forecast is that temperatures will remain above normal on these dates until next week in much of the Californian territory.
Recommendations to the inhabitants
Faced with this situation, the authorities recommend drinking plenty of fluids, avoiding sun exposure, staying indoors with air conditioning whenever possible, being in contact with family and neighbors, and under no circumstances leave small children or pets unattended in vehicles. .
Despite the recommendations, many people along the Californian coast – where temperatures are somewhat milder than inland – They took advantage of this Thursday to go to the beach to cool off with the water and the ocean breeze.
For the director of the Institute of Water Resources of California, Doug Parker, the current drought “is hotter than the previous ones” and, as there is less snow cover available in the mountains of the state, it means “less capacity of replacement of the reservoirs during the summer thaw. “
With temperatures of more than 40 degrees, many cooled off on the shores of San Francisco, California, this Thursday. Photo: EFE
A) Yes, the current heat wave comes after a particularly dry winter in the American Southwest and especially in California, the largest and most populous state in the region.
The snow in the mountains has practically melted since mid-May and some of its largest reservoirs are at record lows.
In the Sierra Nevada, the mountain range that separates California from neighboring Nevada, snowfall was especially low last winter, and by April 1 (the date when accumulated snow normally reaches the greatest thickness) it stood at only 42 centimeters, which is 59% of the average historical value on that date.
“The current drought has occurred rapidly and many of our ecosystems and our groundwater systems have not yet recovered from the previous one,” analyzes Parker, who is part of the University of California of Agriculture and Natural Resources, in an interview with the EFE agency.
According to his projections, California will be able to handle the year’s drought “without too many interruptions”, but if it persists until next year, the state will need “mandatory reductions in water use throughout its territory.”
Wildfires in California, in December 2020. Photo: REUTERS
Like snow, rainfall throughout the winter – the wet season in the state – was also far below the norm, with towns such as Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Francisco and San José registering rainfall levels that do not even reach 45% of normal.
Extremely dry conditions and high temperatures result a bad omen for the fire season, that just begins now with the arrival of summer and that last year was already catastrophic, with five of the six largest fires ever recorded in the history of California.
On this possible scenario, researcher Richard Seager, of the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, said there is “fear” that this year an equally dire season will be repeated.
“Extreme heat, little rain and dry soils and vegetation increase the risk of fires: our fear is that another extreme fire season may occur this year as in 2020,” Seager predicted.