Heatwave and Flash Floods Hit the USA
Millions of people in the USA are experiencing extreme weather conditions, with intense temperatures in the west and south of the country reaching up to 46 degrees Celsius. In the east, there have been fatalities due to flash floods caused by heavy rainfall.
Extreme Heatwave Sweeps Across Western and Southern USA
In the western and southern parts of the USA, millions of people felt the relentless heat on Sunday, with new record temperatures. The National Weather Service (NWS) once again warned of the “oppressive and extremely dangerous heatwave.” Temperatures of 46 degrees Celsius were recorded in some parts of Nevada and Southern California. “More than 80 million people, from southern Florida through the Gulf Coast to the Southwest, are under either an excessive heat warning or a heat advisory,” the weather service reported.
The heat, which poses health risks, is expected to persist for several more days. On Sunday, Death Valley in California, one of the hottest places on Earth, recorded temperatures of 52 degrees Celsius. The previous reliably recorded record was 54.4 degrees in 2020 and 2021.
Deadly Flash Floods in Eastern USA as Heavy Rainfall Continues
Visitors to Death Valley got a sense of the “life-threatening daytime heat,” which is expected to continue until Tuesday evening, according to the NWS. The heat feels like “burning” on the skin, said Eliana Luna to MSNBC. “You can feel the heat running down your entire back.”
Heat Dome over the Southern USA
The city of Idyllwild, located east of Los Angeles at an elevation of 1,645 meters above sea level, set a new heat record on Saturday with 37.7 degrees Celsius. In Phoenix, Arizona, in the southwest of the country, temperatures reached 45 degrees on Sunday – marking the 17th consecutive day with temperatures above 43 degrees for the city. An extreme heat warning is in effect until Wednesday evening. In Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah, the thermometer climbed to 41 degrees Celsius on Sunday. The previous record for July 16th was 39 degrees.
For the first time ever, the weather service issued an extreme heat warning for Miami, Florida, as a “feels like” temperature of 44 degrees was expected due to a combination of heat and humidity. Residents of Houston, Texas, were urged to conserve energy between 2 PM and 10 PM until Monday to relieve strain on the power grid.
“This heatwave is not typical desert heat,” explained the NWS office in Las Vegas on Twitter last Thursday. “Its prolonged duration, extreme daytime temperatures, and warm nights” are unusual, according to the weather service. A heat dome, a high-pressure system that traps heat like a lid, has formed over the southern USA. Heat is the weather phenomenon with the highest number of fatalities in the USA most years. According to scientists, climate change is causing heatwaves to occur more frequently, be hotter, and last longer.
At least five dead after flash floods
Authorities in the eastern state of Pennsylvania reported that five people died in floods caused by heavy rainfall. Two young children, aged nine months and two years, are missing, according to local police. The victims were swept away in their cars on a road on Saturday afternoon. The incident occurred near the border with the state of New Jersey, close to the city of Trenton. Among the dead is also the mother of the two children. The police said they were a family from the state of South Carolina.
“For all the affected families, first responders, and our community as a whole, this has been an incredible shock,” the police wrote about the tragedy. Tim Brewer from the local fire department had previously said that around 17 centimeters of rain fell in less than an hour. In his 44-year career, he had never seen anything like it.
Another fatality in Canadian firefighting
In Canada, the firefighting forces, which have been battling devastating wildfires for weeks, mourned their second fatality. After the death of a female firefighter on Thursday, a male firefighter succumbed to injuries sustained while fighting the flames over the weekend, according to emergency services in the Northwest Territories. In total, more than 10 million hectares of land have been destroyed by wildfires in Canada this year – the largest area ever recorded, equivalent to the size of Portugal.