A mid-June heat wave that is searing through much of the Western United States is prolonging through until the week's end. The hot weather pattern is intensified by a drying trend bolstered by climate change.
Approximately 50 million Americans are placed on alert for "excessive" temperatures. This number represents over an eighth of the United States population. There is a chance that temperatures can break records and reach upwards of 110°F. The alert warns people throughout the western US to take precautions as soaring temperatures can prove to be lethal. As the Western region is on the verge of its worst drought in 20 years, some states are already prompting residents to conserve power, reported Today.
The heat wave is expected to last for a long time
According to the National Weather Service in Salt Lake City on Twitter in the lead-up to the historic heat wave, it is going to be very hot for a long period. It added, "The entire area is going to be way above normal for all of next week."
🔥 No easy way to say this, so we'll just cut straight to the chase: it's going to be *very* hot for a *long time* next week. The entire area is going to be way above normal for all of next week. This graphic lists a couple unique SLC records that may fall #utwx pic.twitter.com/mehU80BH40— NWS Salt Lake City (@NWSSaltLakeCity) June 12, 2021
It is not that just that the heat wave pounding the Western US would not be leaving this week that makes the situation dangerous. It is also making areas more prone to wildfires.
Jeff Weber, a research meteorologist at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, singled out this heat wave as being especially remarkable. He added there is some possibility that this particular heat wave can break records when it comes to temperatures. Weber remarked, "The models expect the Western U.S. to dry out and heat up. This [heat wave] is perhaps a signal of what the future might look like," reported Aol.
Its intensity is not just the only thing of note. High temperatures are not unusual in western states. However, it is unusual that it occurred quite early compared to other seasons.
According to the Chief of Air and Climate Epidemiology for the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, Rupa Basu, the drought and heat wave create a suitable storm for poor air quality and fires. Temperatures this week are slated to remain high overnight as well. This is a trend that has become increasingly frequent with climate change, since global temperature rise is not evenly transpiring.
The drought in the Southwest and this heat wave form part of a harmful loop amplified by climate change, experts stated. The hotter it gets, the drier it becomes. The dryness then makes it even hotter, exacerbating the situation.