A dangerous, relentless heatwave scorched much of the south-central and western United States on Thursday, bringing near-record temperatures and raising the risk of wildfires across large swaths of the nation.
As of Thursday afternoon, more than 113 million Americans were under some form of temperature warning. National Weather Service said. The warnings, which include extreme heat warnings and temperature advisories, span about 2,000 miles from Oregon to Louisiana.
Locations include Phoenix and Las Vegas, both of which are under extreme heat warnings, each of which could challenge all-time record highs over the next few days, AccuWeather said, when the temperature spiked above 110 degrees.
“Unfortunately, the long-term outlook through the weekend and into next week is an increasingly severe and stifling heatwave,” the agency said. weather service speak.
Meanwhile, while the United States suffers from extreme heat, the planet as a whole just experienced its warmest June on record, climate scientists reported Thursday.
Around the world, scientists say unusually warm temperatures this time of year, even in Antarctica, where it is winter, are another example of climate change, getting worse. due to fossil fuel emissions.
Heat can be dangerous and deadly
Experts warn that intense heat and intense sunlight can cause people to lose water quickly. People are encouraged to avoid strenuous activities during the day, drink plenty of fluids, and seek air-conditioned environments when possible to avoid the risk of heat exhaustion and heatstroke. AccuWeather warning.
“Plan accordingly, this is not the time for hiking or being outside for long periods of time,” the weather service said. The Los Angeles office said on Twitter. “If you need to work outside, switch to early morning, take frequent breaks and drink enough water!”
Extreme heat is the deadliest weather-related event in the United States. It kills more people than tornadoes or hurricanes – combined.
Federal agencies reports about 700 Americans die each year from extreme heat, but some studies estimate that number could reach close to 1,300 deaths per year. another study found up to 20,000 deaths possibly linked to extreme heat between 2008 and 2017.
In the context of the focus on heat hazards, UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain note that the rivers swelled by the epic Sierra Nevada snow melt last winter are still perilous.
“There is still snow melting at the highest altitudes and it will really start to melt very quickly… during this heatwave,” Swain said in a press conference.
“Be aware that the water will still be as cold as ice no matter how hot the air will be and can flow very quickly, much faster than usual in mid-July,” he said.
June was the hottest on record globally, NOAA and NASA say
Ours Record hot summer continues on Thursday with announcements from both DO NOT HAVE And NASA that June 2023 was the hottest June on record on Earth. NOAA records date back to 1850, while NASA’s date back to 1880.
June 2023 also marks the 47th straight June and the 532th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th century average, NOAA reported.
Additionally, NOAA says the first half of 2023 ranks as the third hottest on record, with global temperatures 1.82 degrees higher than the 20th century average. There’s a 97 percent chance now. 2023 will end up being one of the five hottest years on record.
Scientists say The warmth the planet is experiencing this year is due to a combination of anthropogenic climate warming and a strengthening El Niño climate pattern in the Pacific.
“The onset of El Niño is significant, making 2023 the hottest year on record when combined with a warming climate backdrop,” said University of Georgia meteorology professor Marshall Shepherd.
Speaking of El Niño: famous climate model expected to last through upcoming winter of 2023-24, federal forecasters from Climate Prediction Center announced Thursday. Specifically, there is a more than 90% chance that El Niño will continue throughout the winter, the CPC said.
Forecasters also say this El Niño will be “moderate to strong” and add that there is a one-fifth chance of it becoming “historically strong”, comparable to the winters of 1997-98 or 2015-16.
Florida is also consulted for heat
Before sunrise on Thursday, the heat index on Virginia Key in Miami was 99.3 degrees, the dawn of another sweltering hot day in an extended heatwave that enveloped South Florida.
As of Thursday, Miami was on an unofficial 33-day record with a heat index above 100 degrees, breaking the record set in 2020, according to Brian McNoldy, senior research associate at the School Rosenstiel Marine, Atmospheric and Earth Sciences at the University of Miami. The unofficial record comes from historical records of a weather station located south of Miami International Airport dating back to 1948.
Ten Florida counties are being warned of a heat index above 100 degrees on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. The heat index – the feeling of air temperature – comes from a combination of air temperature and dew point temperature.
According to NOAA, sea surface temperatures in South Florida were up to 5 degrees above average between 1991 and 2020, and were the hottest for this time of year since at least 1985.
Oceanic heatwaves are one of a series of extreme heat waves at sea that scorched more than 40% of the world’s oceans. Global sea surface temperatures are at record highs for the year in May and June, the World Meteorological Organization said this week. And heatwaves are expected to rise to 50% by October. 9.
In the North Atlantic, ocean temperatures are “much higher than anything the models predict,” said Michael Sparrow, head of WMO’s World Climate Research Division.
The Copernicus Climate Change Agency reported that the heat in the Atlantic is caused by a combination of short-term circulation in the atmosphere and long-term changes in the ocean.
“It is not thought to be related to El Niño, which is newly formed in the tropical Pacific and is expected to affect temperatures later in the year and into 2024,” the WMO said.
WMO says above-normal ocean temperatures can impact corals, fish, ocean circulation and weather. Reef scientists and marine biologists are concerned about the impact on corals and other marine life.
If high temperatures persist throughout the summer, “the corals will be bleached,” said Derek Manzello, NOAA’s reef observation program coordinator this week. The bleached coral is essentially starving because it has lost its main source of nutrition – the algae. symbiotically in its tissues.
“If heat stress doesn’t ease, corals will die,” says Manzello. “Corals can recover from bleaching if heat stress is alleviated, but even if they do recover, they may have impaired growth and reproduction capacity and be more susceptible to disease,” he said.
An intense heatwave nicknamed “Cerberus” is scorching much of Europe this week and is forecast to intensify in the coming days.
Temperatures in parts of the European Mediterranean are forecast to reach 113 degrees Celsius starting Friday.
The high-pressure system, which affects an area across the Mediterranean from northern Africa, was named Cerberus after the three-headed dog in ancient Greek mythology that guarded the portal to the underworld.
Weather forecasters say heatwaves will also be felt in some parts of northern Europe.
“Italy, Spain, France, Germany and Poland are all facing a major heatwave, with temperatures expected to reach 48 degrees Celsius (118 degrees Fahrenheit) on the islands of Sicily and Sardinia – with possibly the hottest temperature ever recorded in Europe,” the European Space Agency said on Thursday.
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Death valley can reach 130 degrees
The infamous hotspot of Death Valley, California, which has the world’s all-time high temperature and one of the hottest places on Earth, could reach 130 degrees by weather forecasters say weekend. AccuWeather says the world record air temperature of 134 degrees was set in Death Valley on July 10, 1913, at the Furnace Creek observation site.
The fear of forest fires increases
Meanwhile, California’s wildfire season is intensifying in hot, dry conditions with a series of fires breaking out across the state this week, Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot said.
“As we move deeper into the summer and the vegetation that grows in the wet spring dries out, we are seeing an increase in wildfire activity,” Crowfoot said. Wednesday during a press conference in state media.
A ‘clear climate change signal’
Sure, it’s summer and it’s supposed to be hot. However, experts say the intensity and duration of this heatwave in cities like Phoenix is increasing due to human-caused climate change. “Of course we expect hot summers (in Arizona), but part of what we’re seeing with climate change are heat waves,” said Kathy Jacobs, who led the study from the University of Arizona. longer and more intense. Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions.
However, the intensity and duration of the current heatwave “is not what we would expect without climate change. There’s a clear climate change signal here,” Jacobs said, “but you can’t say which proportion is the direct cause of climate change.”
Contributing: Adrianna Rodriquez, USA TODAY; Brandon Loomis, Republic of Arizona; Related press