Thursday, June 24, 2021

Western U.S. A 'Tinderbox' As Summer Approaches

Western US is a tinderbox waiting to explode after record heat and the worst drought in potentially 1,200 YEARS could spell disaster with threats of wildfires, water shortages and blackouts

  • Much of the US west is experiencing its worst drought conditions in 20 years and could be on track for its worst in 1,200 years
  • Already much of the region has been gripped with heat waves, with temperatures topping 116 degrees in places like Las Vegas
  • The heat is likely to get worse this weekend with places in Oregon and California to see temperatures of 112 and 113 degrees respectively 
  • The extreme conditions could mean an even more devastating fire season than the region experienced last year 
  • The heat has also strained California's power grid, with dropping water levels at its reservoirs already hampering hydroelectric power production  

The dual threats of heat and drought could spell disaster for communities along the US west coast, as the region faces the potential for record temperatures this weekend and more in store for the summer.

With a heat wave gripping much of the region for over the past week, the threat for wildfires, blackouts and water shortages only increases as it experiences its worst drought in 20, and potentially even 1,200 years if it continues, and even hotter conditions are expected for this weekend.

Already, temperatures have reached 116 degrees in Las Vegas and 115 degrees in Phoenix. On Thursday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a statewide emergency, warning that the state's power grid was under stress due to the heat, and called on residents to conserve electricity. 

It's likely to get worse, with places in the northwest such as PortlandOregon and Redding, California potentially in for temperatures topping 112 degrees and 113 degrees respectively this weekend.

And it's only the start of summer. 

The high temperatures are even more troubling with much of the southwest and west coast in the midst of extreme drought conditions. 

'This doesn’t bode well, in terms of what we can expect with wildfire and the worsening drought,' Kathleen Johnson, an associate professor of Earth system science at the University of California, Irvine told The Guardian

'This current drought is potentially on track to become the worst that we’ve seen in at least 1,200 years,' she said. 

The extreme conditions could put the area on track for another devastating wildfire season. 

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