327 wildfires and 5 million people at risk of floods: Climate hazards in the US today

·2-min read
327 wildfires and 5 million people at risk of floods: Climate hazards in the US today

The climate crisis is going to create all kinds of disasters in the coming decades as greenhouse gases, mainly from burning fossil fuels, heat up the planet and send the atmosphere into chaos.

The consequences of that crisis are already plaguing millions of people in the US, as wildfires, hurricanes, drought and heatwaves sweep through the country.

Now, the federal government is tracking the full extent of extreme weather in the country on a daily basis — emphasising just how exposed the country is to climate disaster.

On Thursday, there were 327 active wildfires burning across the US, mainly in the West. That includes 91 large fires, which alone have burned through more than 850,000 acres — larger than Yosemite National Park.

In northern California, the Mosquito Fire has reached 64,159 acres and spurred evacuations near Lake Tahoe. The blaze is now California’s largest of the year. Also in California, heavy rain on areas that have burned in recent years caused mudslides on Sunday and Monday, leaving cars trapped, homes damaged and one person missing in San Bernardino County.

In Oregon, the Cedar Creek Fire has burned through 92,595 acres and filled skies across the state with smoke.

More than five million Americans are under flood alerts. In northeastern Minnesota, storms could cause floods, with up to four inches of rain possible over the next three days in some parts of the region. In scattered areas of Florida, Texas and South Dakota, flooding is also possible along some rivers that could reach high water levels.

In Puerto Rico, Tropical Storm Fiona has formed in the Atlantic Ocean and is heading straight for the island. Up to eight inches of rain are possible in corners of Puerto Rico and other nearby areas of the Caribbean, which could cause local flooding and mudslides.

After weeks of heatwaves on the West Coast, the country is finally free of extreme heat alerts. But temperatures will reach well above 90F (32C) over the next few days in much of the southwest US.

Finally, drought continues to plague much of the country, especially in the West. More than 114 million Americans are currently living in drought conditions.

This includes parts of California, Utah, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and Oregon which are under “exceptional drought” — the most extreme drought level, creating serious challenges for farmers and a very high risk of wildfires.

Parts of the northeast US are also facing dry weather, with some areas along the New England coast seeing “extreme drought”.

A UN climate science panel has warned that hazards like drought, heatwaves, floods, wildfires and intense storms are all likely to become more intense in the coming decades as the planet heats up.