Wave of “extreme heat” in the United States, major fire in Florida

While a wave of “extreme heat” affects the United States, a forest fire is spreading alarmingly in California. “Oak Fire” broke out Friday in Mariposa County, near Yosemite National Park and its giant sequoias, and has already moved more than 2,500 hectares, destroying ten properties and damaging five others, according to a bulletin from the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection published Saturday, July 23.

Several roads were cut and several areas were ordered to evacuate, while the fire, from a “extreme activity” and fought by around 400 firefighters, was not under control at all on Saturday, according to the same source.

According to a climatologist from the University of California at Los Angeles, Daniel Swain, the fire “has spread significantly in almost all directions”, “in a context of high fuel load and extreme drought”. “The series of relatively small, non-destructive wildfires that have plagued California so far this season appear to be over”he added on Twitter.

The American West has already experienced forest fires of exceptional magnitude and intensity in recent years, with a very marked lengthening of the fire season, a phenomenon that scientists attribute to global warming.

Swirl of smoke

Witnesses posted on social media images of a huge and impressive whirlwind of thick smoke rising from the forest, like a tornado, a dangerous phenomenon of pyrocumulus clouds which can fuel the fire:

This fire is one of the most dramatic consequences of the heat wave affecting the United States this weekend, in a localized area between California and Oregon to the west but much more extensively in the center and northeast. Many temperature records expected in the Center and Northeast.

“This heat will fuel severe weather across the northern Midwest today, with a significant threat of damaging winds, large hailstones and a few tornadoes”announced on Saturday July 23, national weather service (National Weather Service, NWS).

Read also: Heatwave in the United States: nearly 100 million people on alert

A “heat-related state of emergency” declared by Joe Biden

In Washington, July 23, 2022.

The sweltering heat, which shows the threat posed by global warming, was particularly felt in the capital, Washington, DC, where temperatures could flirt with 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 to 38 degrees Celsius, °C). New York was not spared, with temperatures close to 35°C.

The temperature could also reach 43 ° C in parts of Utah (West), Arizona (South) and in the Northeast, according to the NWS. In Boston, where the mayor, Michelle Wu, decreed a “heat-related emergency”providing for the opening of municipal places to cool off and swimming pools open longer, it could be 37 ° C on Sunday.

This week, US President Joe Biden again underlined the “clear and immediate danger” what is climate change, “an existential threat to our nation and the world”. But its room for maneuver is limited in Congress and by the Supreme Court.

The planet has already recorded several heat waves this year, such as in July in Western Europe or in India in March-April. Their multiplication is an unmistakable sign of climate change, according to scientists. In June 2021, an extremely rare “heat dome” wreaked havoc on the entire west coast of the United States and Canada, killing more than five hundred people and causing major fires, with temperatures approaching 50 °C.

Read also Article reserved for our subscribers What is the dome of heat that is suffocating the northwest of the American continent?

The World with AFP

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