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.
More than a dozen states are subject to a heat warning, with central U.S. metropolitan areas like Dallas and Oklahoma City expected to hit highs of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit (over 38 degrees Celsius) for at least the next five days.
Cities along the Northeast Coast, from Boston to Philadelphia to Washington, are now in a heat emergency.
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 that highlight the threat of global warming have already prompted a surge in heat-related illness emergency calls.
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 nation’s capital has been predicted to hit temperatures at or near 100 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday, with New York not far behind.
– Fire conditions increased –
“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,” it said.
The sweltering heat has increased the risk of fires, like the great oak fire that broke out in California on Friday near Yosemite National Park, where fires have already threatened giant sequoias in recent days.
Over an area of more than 2,650 hectares, the Oak Fire has already destroyed ten properties and damaged five others. It was 0 percent contained as of Saturday afternoon, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.
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.
Meanwhile, 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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