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Thermometer displaying high temperature.
Temperatures record in California. Photo: Pixabay.

Violent heat wave hits California

The phenomenon that has been present for several days fuels forest fires and threatens to cause power outages.

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The western United States completes several days under a strong heat wave that, in addition to generating forest fires in various areas, may be prolonged due to a hurricane that is forming along the Pacific coast of Mexico.

Scientific studies affirm that the phenomenon is part of a global pattern of rising temperatures, and that climate change is making heat waves hotter and more frequent.

According to a CNN report, Sacramento, the capital of California, recorded a temperature of 46º last Tuesday, considered the hottest day and joining different records in the Bay Area that see how the temperature increases up to 10 degrees.

The heat wave will be the hottest and longest recorded in California during September, said through his Twitter account, the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, who also noted: "Now we are heading to the worst part: the risk of blackouts is real.”

Emergency Measures

Taking into account that high temperatures are expected to remain at least until Friday, the different authorities have called on Californians to adjust their thermostats to 25 degrees or higher -despite the heat-, as well as to avoid the use of major appliances, and to turn off all unnecessary lights between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m.

Pacific Gas & Electric, the nation's largest utility, has notified some 525,000 customers to prepare for potential rotating outages. Grid conditions were reported to have worsened and power supply was insufficient to meet demand.

Breaking Records

Here are the records that have been broken in the Western U.S. for high temperatures:

  • The San Francisco airport reached 36 degrees this Monday, breaking a daily record.
  • Salinas reached 39°C, surpassing the previous record of 33°C set in 2004.
  • Livermore reached a record high of 46 degrees.
  • Salt Lake City recorded 40 degrees on Monday, the hottest day in September and also the 32nd day this year with temperatures reaching at least 37 degrees, beating the previous record by 11 days.
  • Temperatures in Billings, Montana, hit 37 degrees on Monday, tying the previous record. It is the first time that Billings has also reached 37 degrees twice in the same period.

Deadly Forest Fires

These are the conflagrations that have had the greatest impact:

  • Two people were killed as the Fairview Fire spread rapidly across Southern California, forcing hundreds of residents to flee. By Tuesday, the fire had burned nearly 4,000 acres and was 5% contained.
  • To the north, in Siskiyou County, two women, ages 66 and 73, died in the Mill Fire, which has burned 4,263 acres and destroyed 98 structures as of Tuesday night.
  • The Mountain Fire, which is also burning in Siskiyou County, swept through 4,730 hectares.
  • In Oregon, the Cedar Creek fire has consumed 7,132 hectares in five days.
  • The Ross Fork fire in Idaho, which started in mid-August, is still burning and has consumed 10,500 hectares. Firefighters had it 2% contained as of Tuesday.

Kay Won't Make it Any Easier

In addition to the existing harsh conditions, the arrival of Hurricane Kay could worsen temperatures, according to the National Weather Service in Los Angeles, which indicates that the flow around the storm will bring easterly winds to the area, which could bring a extreme heat to the beaches.

The San Diego weather service has warned that the excessive heat wave could extend into Friday, which could cause high temperatures of between 32 and 38 degrees Celsius to reach the coast.

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