Extreme temperatures, large fires: the American West is suffocating

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Extreme temperatures are hitting California as well as Nevada and Arizona in the western United States. This heat wave, which is accompanied by large fires, puts the Californian electricity network under pressure, because of a demand for air conditioning record.

The Western United States continued to suffocate on Wednesday September 7th. California, as well as parts of Nevada and Arizona, are facing scorching temperatures, flirting with 45° C in some places, due to a heat dome over the area. Mercury is yet to reach such extremes on Wednesday and Thursday, according to the US weather service, the NWS.

In this stifling atmosphere, several large fires are ravaging the region and two of them have already proved fatal. In northern California, the “Mill Fire” killed two people, destroyed more than 100 buildings, and devastated more than 1,600 hectares in Siskiyou County.

The “Fairview Fire”, which killed two people southeast of Los Angeles, continues to grow and “is progressing faster than our efforts”, according to a local fire chief, Josh Janssen. The fire “continues to threaten several populated areas”, he added. Since Monday, the flames have ravaged more than 2,800 hectares.


The mercury should drop from Friday thanks to the arrival of a cold air front from Canada, according to meteorologists. But this phenomenon brings with it the risk of violent winds capable of multiplying the flames in the Western United States.

“This cold air front will also generate gusty winds” over the American West, explained the NWS in a press release. “Coupled with relatively low humidity, this is likely to fuel the risk of new fire starts and existing fires at risk of spreading out of control.”

In Montana, gusts could reach 95 km / h, according to the Storm Prediction Center.

In California, more than 10,000 residents were ordered to evacuate their homes to protect themselves from the “Fairview Fire”, but many ignored the alert according to the Riverside County police, who sent their officers to carry at the door to try to convince the recalcitrant.

“People should take it more seriously, given the speed of spread, and that’s why we are extending the evacuation zone so much, because with the changes in the wind, the weather is unpredictable, and the fire is progressing. quickly,” a spokeswoman for the local sheriff, Brandi Swan, told the Los Angeles Times.

Risk of flash floods

In the Southwest of the United States, the forecast promises torrential rains just after the fall of the mercury on Friday. A hurricane is looming off Mexico and could bring up to 6 inches of precipitation to parts of Arizona and California. “This amount of rain is likely to cause flash floods here and there, especially in areas already destroyed by fire,” the NWS warned.

Meanwhile, the heat wave continues to put pressure on the power grid in California, due to record air conditioning demand.

The network regulator, California ISO, narrowly avoided the use of rotating power cuts (controlled and distributed over different areas) on Tuesday. He renewed his alert on Wednesday to “urge consumers to lower demand” in the evening. Californians are asked to avoid recharging their electric vehicles from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., not to set the air conditioning below 25.5° C and to avoid turning on lights unnecessarily.

In the middle of the day, all the solar panels generally provide one third of the electricity in California. But when the sun goes down, the supply of photovoltaic energy is suddenly interrupted, and the other sources of electricity are currently struggling to meet the demand for air conditioning.

With AFP


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