Energy & Environment

Western states at risk of unprecedented heat as wildfire season begins

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Forecasts indicate the Western U.S. is set for another week of above-average heat as the traditional wildfire season begins.

The National Weather Service (NWS) on Monday warned that portions of the region are at risk for unprecedented heat and urged residents to hydrate and check on neighbors.

In Death Valley, Calif., Sunday’s low was 107.7 degrees Fahrenheit, a record high for the entire continent of North America that soared to 128.6 by Sunday afternoon. The average of 118.1 degrees was the highest daily average temperature ever reported worldwide, according to The Washington Post. The full state is under an excessive heat warning through Tuesday night.

Las Vegas, meanwhile, tied its record high of 117 degrees Saturday, according to the NWS’s Las Vegas office.

The temperatures also come as the full wildfire season begins in the region after a series of unseasonably early blazes in late June. Fifty-nine large fires are burning across 12 states as of Monday, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. The fires have burned a total of 863,976 acres. The NIFC projected some relief in the southwest, where rainfall and thunderstorms are projected to create wetter conditions in the week ahead.

The Medford, Ore., office of the NWS projected a potential for “extreme growth” of the so-called Bootleg Fire, which has burned more than 143,000 acres in the Beaver State.

Fire incident commander Al Lawson said firefighters fighting the Bootleg Fire are “seeing conditions they have never seen before,” according to USA Today.

Experts have said increased wildfires are not necessarily entirely due to climate change, but that temperature increases make conditions ripe for fires, as the West sees dramatically reduced snowpack.

Tags Al Lawson Heat wave Wildfire season wildfires

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