Destructive floods, fires, thunderstorms and a potentially dangerous heatwave for a third of the population: The United States bore the brunt of a series of climate-change-related disasters on Tuesday as summer approached.
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Nearly 120 million Americans have been affected to one degree or another by a heat wave that hit parts of the Midwest and Southeast.
“The high pressure dome is expected to produce higher than normal temperatures to record high temperatures across the region today and tomorrow (Wednesday),” National Weathers warned.
“This heat, combined with the high humidity, is likely to generate temperatures well above 37°C in many places,” she warns.
In parts of Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, mercury is expected to reach 43 degrees Celsius.
Alex Lammers, an expert in US national weather forecasts, explained that it is this region of high atmospheric pressure that causes exceptional phenomena on its fringes.
“In many cases, if you have a strong enough heat wave, you will find thunderstorms and tornadoes everywhere, floods, torrential rain,” he said.
At the northern edge of this thermal dome, rising temperatures collide with cold air masses and caused severe thunderstorms on Monday, leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power in the Midwest.
This cold front is likely to cause other devastating weather, such as hail or high winds.
To the west, images released by the National Park Agency showed flood damage in Yellowstone Park.
All entrances to this vast nearly 9,000 square kilometer park, which straddles the states of Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho (Northwest), remained closed until further notice due to “extremely dangerous conditions” caused by a flooded river and torrential rain.
Anyone still in the park was told to evacuate.
The dice is loaded
“Flooding measured on the Yellowstone River exceeded record levels,” the National Park Service said on its website.
She explained that the floods caused landslides or mudslides that cut off multiple parts of the road, and “several bridges could also be affected.”
Heatwave alerts have also been issued in several areas in California and Arizona, where temperatures and chronic drought increase the risk of fire.
Two fires, each already covering more than 120,000 hectares, continued in New Mexico on Tuesday.
Firefighters have been struggling for weeks to contain the flames at Black Fire and Hermits Peak, which are fed by exceptionally dry vegetation.
New Mexico and much of the southwestern United States are in the grip of a historic drought, and dozens of fires have already broken out in the area before summer even begins.
Firefighters have discovered that the frequency, size and intensity of bush and twig fires have steadily increased in recent years.
Once again, 2022 promises to be massive from this point of view. “Given the current state of the plants and the fires, I’m afraid we’ll have four, five or even six very difficult months ahead,” Brian Venety, California Orange County Fire Chief, said recently.
Fires are common in the western United States, but are becoming increasingly severe due to global warming caused by human activities, including fossil fuels.
According to Alex Lamers, while it is difficult to establish a direct link between global warming and an isolated meteorological phenomenon, it is undeniable that climate change is an exacerbating factor.
“In every climate phenomenon, there is an element of bad luck (…) but they all have climate as a backdrop, and simply put, climate change sucks the dice and increases the likelihood of extreme events,” he explains.
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