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US heatwave ramps up as California wildfire rages – Science-Environment News – Report by AFR

Tens of millions of Americans, already baking in a searing heatwave, braced themselves for record-breaking temperatures on Saturday as a major fire ravaged part of California.

The country’s central and north-eastern regions are bearing the brunt of extreme temperatures, which are expected to peak on Sunday at the earliest and have public health officials in turmoil.

The sweltering heat has also increased the threat of fires, like the Great Oak Fire that broke out on Friday in California near Yosemite National Park, where fires have already threatened giant sequoias in recent days.

The oak fire — described by officials as “explosive” — grew from 60 acres to more than 6,555 (2,650 hectares) in less than 24 hours. Focused on Mariposa County, it has already destroyed 10 properties and damaged five others, threatening thousands more.

It was zero percent contained as of Saturday afternoon, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The department said the fire’s activity was “extreme” and rescue workers were working to evacuate residents and protect the buildings.

More than 400 firefighters, aided by water-dropping helicopters, are battling the blaze, the department said, but the Los Angeles Times quoted officials as saying it could take a week to contain it.

“Explosive fire behavior poses challenges for firefighters,” the department added on its website.

Climate scientist Daniel Swain tweeted that the fire “exercised extreme behavior throughout,” while stunned social media users posted pictures of billowing plumes of smoke – with the LA Times reporting the plume reached as much as 30,000 feet in the air.

In recent years, California and other parts of the western United States have been ravaged by huge, hot, and fast-moving wildfires caused by years of drought and a warming climate.

– record heat –

Evidence of global warming was seen elsewhere as well, as more than a dozen U.S. states were under a heat warning.

Central U.S. metropolitan areas such as Dallas and Oklahoma City were expected to reach highs of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (over 38 degrees Celsius) for at least the next five days.

A heat emergency is in effect for cities on the Northeast Coast from Boston to Philadelphia to Washington.

Not even the normally cool Pacific Northwest will escape the widespread heat, as the region is expected to experience several days in the 90s next week.

The high temperatures have already led to a surge in emergency calls for heat-related illnesses.

Cities, meanwhile, have been forced to open cooling stations and increase outreach to vulnerable communities such as the homeless and those without access to air conditioning.

“This is really one of the things we’re realizing in Oklahoma — heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States Emergency Management Agency, CNN said.

Residents in the central US city expected temperatures of 103 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday and as high as 106 degrees on Sunday and Monday.

The capital, Washington, has been predicted to hit temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or close on Saturday, and New York isn’t far behind.

“Look for daily highs to eclipse the century mark in the Central Plains and record-breaking highs from the Central Plains to the Northeast today,” the National Weather Service said in a forecast.

“Sunday will be even hotter in the Northeast,” he added.

Severe thunderstorms are expected across the Midwest Saturday, with the potential for damaging winds, large hail and tornadoes, the NWS said.

Various regions of the world have been hit by extreme heat waves in recent months, such as western Europe in July and India in March-April, events scientists say are a dead giveaway of climate change.

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