The American west continues to suffocate, California threatened by power outages

The American west continues to suffocate, California threatened by power outages

The western United States continued to suffocate under extreme temperatures on Wednesday, with the threat of power outages in California, whose power grid is bent amid the heatwave that has ravaged the region for the past week.

California, as well as parts of Nevada and Arizona, are facing scorching temperatures, flirting with 45C in some spots, due to a heat dome over the area. According to the US weather service NWS, Mercury has not yet reached such extremes on Wednesday and Thursday.

In this stifling atmosphere, several large fires are ravaging the region, and two of them have already proved deadly.

In Northern California, the Mill Fire killed two people, destroyed more than 100 buildings and devastated more than 1,600 acres in Siskiyou County.

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

– “Uncontrollable” –

According to meteorologists, the mercury should drop from Friday thanks to the arrival of a cold air front from Canada. But this phenomenon brings with it the risk of violent winds that can multiply the blazes in the western United States.

“This cold air front will also create gusty winds” over the American West, the NWS said in a press release. “Coupled with relatively low humidity, this will likely increase the risk of new fire outbreaks and existing fires that could spread out of control.”

In Montana, gusts could reach 58 mph, 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 warning, according to Riverside County Police, who sent their officers door-to-door to convince the recalcitrant.

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

– risk of flash floods –

The American West, which has been plagued by drought for more than 20 years, is particularly vulnerable to fires, which have intensified in recent years.

Global warming is also amplifying extreme phenomena, according to scientists: heat waves are more frequent and intense, and storms are more violent and unpredictable, with sometimes torrential downpours.

The sequence of these extreme episodes is also becoming more frequent, according to climate researchers, and the weekend could provide a new example.

In the southwestern United States, forecasts are promising torrential rain immediately after Friday’s mercury fall. A hurricane is brewing off Mexico and could bring up to 6 inches of rainfall to parts of Arizona and California.

“This amount of rain is likely to cause flash flooding here and there, particularly in areas already devastated by fire,” the NWS warned.

Meanwhile, the heatwave continues to put pressure on California’s power grid due to record air-conditioning needs.

The power regulator, California ISO, narrowly avoided the use of rotating power outages (controlled and distributed across different areas) on Tuesday. He renewed his warning on Wednesday to “urge consumers to cut demand” in the evening.

Californians are therefore asked not to charge their electric vehicles between 4:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., not to set the air conditioning below 25.5°C and to avoid switching on the lights unnecessarily.

“The state and most of the West are suffering from a historic heat wave in terms of duration and temperatures, which is putting pressure on the grid with high electricity consumption,” the regulator pointed out.

In the middle of the day, all solar panels typically provide a third of California’s electricity. But when the sun goes down, the supply from photovoltaics is suddenly cut off and the other power sources are currently struggling to meet the demand for air conditioning.

Reference: www.challenges.fr

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