Wildfires are continuing to ravage the west coast as several states contend with regional droughts and power outages amid another record-breaking heat wave that cooked Death Valley in 130-degree weather.
Firefighters were working in extreme temperatures and struggling to contain wildfires that tore through 300 acres of land, with the largest burning in California and Oregon, as another heat wave baked the region and 18million people were under heat advisories.
One wildfire in Arizona left two firefighters dead after their plane crashed during an overhead survey of the blaze, which spread through rural Mohave County.
The Beech C-90 aircraft was helping perform reconnaissance over the lightning-caused Cedar Basin Fire, near the tiny community of Wikieup northwest of Phoenix, when it went down and killed Air Tactical Group Supervisor Jeff Piechura, 62, a retired Tucson-area fire chief who was working for the Coronado National Forest, and Matthew Miller, 48, a pilot with Falcon Executive Aviation contracted by the US Forest Service.
Officials on Sunday identified the victims as Air Tactical Group Supervisor Jeff Piechura, 62, a retired Tucson-area fire chief who was working for the Coronado National Forest, and Matthew Miller, 48, a pilot with Falcon Executive Aviation contracted by the US Forest Service.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.
‘Our hearts go out to the families of our brave wildland firefighters,’ an Arizona Bureau of Land Management spokesperson said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the largest wildfire of the year in California – the Beckwourth Complex – was raging along the Nevada state line and has burned about 134 square miles. The Beckwourth Complex Fire – a combination of two lightning-caused blazes burning 45 miles north of Lake Tahoe – showed no sign of slowing its rush northeast from the Sierra Nevada forest region after doubling in size between Friday and Saturday.
Late Saturday, flames jumped US 395, which was closed near the small town of Doyle in California’s Lassen County.
The lanes reopened Sunday, and officials urged motorists to use caution and keep moving along the key north-south route where flames were still active.
Wildfires are continuing to ravage California as the region faces record-high temperatures, a drought and subsequent power outages. While firefighters are making progress in some areas, the pictured fires were still raging as of Monday afternoon
The largest wildfire of the year in California – the Beckwourth Complex – was raging along the Nevada state line and has burned about 134 square miles. Above, a firefighter doused the flames of the Beckwourth Complex Fire to preventing it from spreading to further homes in Doyle, California, on Saturday
The Beckwourth Complex Fire showed no sign of slowing its rush northeast from the Sierra Nevada forest region after doubling in size between Friday and Saturday. Above, it raged through Plumas National Forest in Quincy, California, on Friday
In Oregon, the Bootleg Fire exploded to 224 square miles as it raced through heavy timber in the Fremont-Winema National Forest, near the Klamath County town of Sprague River. The fire disrupted service on three transmission lines providing up to 5,500 megawatts of electricity to neighboring California.
Officials in neighboring state California asked all residents to reduce power consumption quickly after the fire knocked out interstate power lines, preventing up to 4,000 megawatts of electricity from flowing into the state.
‘The Bootleg Fire will see the potential for extreme growth today,’ the National Weather Service in Medford, Oregon, said on Twitter, fueled by extreme drought and temperatures near 100 that aren’t expected to subside until midweek.
‘The fire behavior we are seeing on the Bootleg Fire is among the most extreme you can find and firefighters are seeing conditions they have never seen before,’ fire incident commander Al Lawson told USA Today.
A wildfire in southeast Washington grew to almost 60 square miles, while in Idaho, Gov. Brad Little has mobilized the National Guard to help fight fires sparked after lightning storms swept across the drought-stricken region.
On Sunday, firefighters working in temperatures that topped 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) were able to gain some ground on the Beckwourth Complex, doubling containment to 20%.
Late Saturday, flames jumped U.S. 395, which was closed near the small town of Doyle in California´s Lassen County. The lanes reopened Sunday, and officials urged motorists to use caution and keep moving along the key north-south route where flames were still active.
A map from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration captured the impact of the heat wave and wildfires on the atmosphere over the west coast
A utility pole went up in flames as the Beckwourth Complex Fire tore through Doyle, California, on Saturday
Flames consumed a home as the Beckwourth Complex Fire tore through the town of Doyle, California, on Saturday
Pushed by heavy winds amid a heat wave, the fire came out of the hills and destroyed multiple residences in central Doyle
‘Do not stop and take pictures,’ said the fire´s Operations Section Chief Jake Cagle. ‘You are going to impede our operations if you stop and look at what´s going on.’
Cagle said structures had burned in Doyle, but he didn´t have an exact number. Bob Prary, who manages the Buck-Inn Bar in the town of about 600 people, said he saw at least six houses destroyed after Saturday´s flareup. The fire was smoldering Sunday in and around Doyle, but he feared some remote ranch properties were still in danger.
‘It seems like the worst is over in town, but back on the mountainside the fire´s still going strong,’ Prary said.
A wildfire in southeast Washington had burned almost 60 square miles (155 square kilometers) as it blackened grass and timber while it moved into the Umatilla National Forest.
The blazes come as the West is in the midst of a second extreme heat wave within just a few weeks and as the entire region is suffering from one of the worst droughts in recent history. Extreme heat warnings in California were finally expected to expire Monday night.
WeatherNation’s forecast for Tuesday showed hot and dry weather continuing to sweep across the west coast Tuesday as 18million people are currently under severe heat advisories
Extreme high temperatures continued to cook the west coast on Monday afternoon
The extreme heat is expected to wane this week as temperatures are forecast to drop on Wednesday
By Friday, the region will have emerged from the extreme heat
A thermometer at Death Valley National Park in southeastern California showed temperatures soaring to 133 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday
George Harris (left) was photographed by Margaret Owen (right) as he displayed a thermometer at Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park in California on Sunday
Southern California residents sought refuge from the extreme heat on Saturday in the Whitewater River, in California, as dangerously hot conditions hit the Coachella Valley over the weekend with possible highs of 115 to 120 degrees, according to the National Weather Service
Max the dog dried off after a quick bath in the Whitewater River, in California, on Saturday
A thermometer outside Furnace Creek Visitors Center in the heart of Death Valley showed 134 degrees Fahrenheit shortly before 4pm on Sunday, although a National Park Service ranger said that it was typically slightly above the official reading.
Death Valley’s 130F weather matches one of the hottest temperatures on Earth, which was recorded in the same location last August. It is still being reviewed by the World Meteorological Organization, which is the arbiter of international weather records, to determine its world rank, according to The Washington Post.
The 130F reading is third in comparison to the two other highest temperatures ever recorded, with the first also being in Death Valley in 1913, when the temperature was 134F. The second was a 131F reading from Kebili, Tunisia, on July 7, 1931. Saturday also marks the anniversary of the alleged 134 degree reading from 1913.
But Christopher Burt, an expert on world weather extremes, told the Washington Post that he questions the legitimacy of both measurements. He said it is ‘essentially not possible from a meteorological perspective’ for Death Valley to reach 134F and added that the 1931 Tunisia reading has ‘serious credibility issues.’
If Burt is correct and both top-temperatures are false, Death Valley’s 130F reading could be the highest temperature observed on Earth.
In another record-setting wonder, Stovepipe Wells, California, near Death Valley, had an overnight minimum temperature of 107.7°F Sunday morning. This is the highest overnight low ever recorded in North America, and the highest globally during the month of July.
The National Weather Service issued excessive heat warnings across much of the region and cautioned residents that the high temperatures could be hazardous to the their health and that of loved ones, especially small children and the elderly.
In Death Valley a ranger measured the sidewalk temperature outside the visitors center at 178 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday afternoon.
‘I just came up here to see how hot it gets,’ said Richard Rader of Scottsdale, Arizona, who said he had ridden his bike 10 miles across Death Valley on Sunday.
Other tourists got out of their air-conditioned cars only long enough to pose for pictures with the thermometer.
In California’s agricultural Central Valley, 100-degree temperatures blanketed the region, with Fresno reaching 111 degrees, just one degree short of the all-time high for the date.
Las Vegas on Saturday afternoon tied the all-time high of 117, the National Weather Service said. The city has recorded that record-high temperature four other times, most recently in June 2017.
Nearly 200 were killed during the record-breaking heat wave that struck the Pacific Northwest between June 26 and July 1.
Oregon and Washington State authorities report 116 and 78 deaths, respectively. Officials said many of the victims had no air conditioners or fans and died alone. The youngest victim was 37, and the oldest was 97.
The extreme heat is expected to wane this week and, starting Friday, Death Valley is expected to peak at 115F through the weekend, according to the National Weather Service. Meanwhile, Fresno’s temperature is projected to leave the triple digits by Thursday and peak just below 100F through the weekend. Palm Springs and Las Vegas will both drop about five degrees and reach between 107F and 110F through next week.
Heat Dome killed 1 BILLION sea creatures in the Pacific Northwest with temperatures at 104F on the coast – as experts warn weather phenomenon could now happen every five to 10 years
Dead mollusk and clams, dehydrated star fish and baked barnacles are among the one billion dead sea creatures that littered beaches of the Pacific Northwest following a historic heatwave.
The ‘heat dome’ hung over the Western US and Canada two weeks ago and unleashed temperatures of 104 degrees Fahrenheit that lasted for at least five days straight.
The astounding heat is believed to have killed hundreds of people, but Christopher Harley, a marine biologist at the University of British Columbia, found last week that sea creatures were also among the victims.
Harley says low tide also played a key role in the marine massacre, as it was very low midday, leaving the sea creatures exposed to the extreme heat.
During one of the hottest days of the heatwave, Harley walked to the beach to take a look at the damage.
‘The more I walked and the more I saw, the more sobering it all became,’ he told the New York Times. ‘It just went on and on and on.’
Dead mollusk and clams, dehydrated star fish and baked barnacles are among the one billion dead sea creatures that littered beaches of the Pacific Northwest following a historic heatwave
The mass death of the marine life is devastating, but it has also impacted the ecosystem.
Such a great loss of mussels and clams affects water quality, as these creatures filter the ocean to keep it clear enough for sunlight to reach the eelgrass beds.
Heatwaves have affected marine life throughout history, but Harley told NPR that temperatures reaching above 100 degrees Fahrenheit like they did in the Pacific Northwest are ‘exceptionally rare.’
But with climate change, Harley has seen estimates from other scientists that similar heat waves could strike once every five to 10 years.
Low tide also played a key role in the marine massacre, as it was very low midday, leaving the sea creatures exposed to the extreme heat
The sweltering temperatures are being caused by a heat dome of static high-pressure hot air which traps the heat in one location
‘If it happens that frequently, the system won’t have time to recover in between the die-offs,’ he said.
Malin Pinsky, an associate professor of marine biology at Rutgers University, said the extreme heat contributes to a ‘massive reorganization of ocean life.’
‘Species are shifting towards the poles of the Earth at about 60 kilometers [37 miles] per decade, and it doesn’t happen slowly, bit by bit. It often happens in these extreme events, where a large population of something like mussels can die,’ Pinsky said.
Pinsky agrees with Harley’s estimate that one billion sea creatures fell victim to the heat dome and it could be even more.
‘The craziest thing is that it’s just the tip of the iceberg,’ Pinksy said.
‘We can see the mussels because they’re on the shoreline, but to a large extent, oceans are out of sight, out of mind, so we’re likely to learn the magnitude of what’s happening only much later.’
Canada received the brunt of the heatwave, with temperatures soaring to 121 degrees Fahrenheit in some regions and killing more than700 people in British Columbia.
The heat dome stretched down to the US with Washington and Oregon also experiencing record temperatures while California is suffering from forest fires.
The ‘once in 10,000 years’ event is being caused by a heat dome, which means the warmth extends high into the atmosphere and impacts pressure and wind patterns.
Rescue horse Dakota gulped down water from a hose held by volunteer Alana at Coachella Valley Horse Rescue amid a heat wave plaguing the area on Sunday
Coachella Valley Horse Rescue Director Annette Garcia comforted rescue horse Smokey after strapping ice packs to his legs to help keep him cool. Smokey has failed to properly shed his winter coat due to Cushing’s disease and is particularly susceptible to heat
Moment a FIRENADO rages through California wildfire
The US Forest Service shared a video of a fire tornado ripping through a northern California wildfire site.
Officials shared a clip of the the fire tornado, or fire whirl, raging through the Tennant Fire in Siskiyou County on Friday.
It quickly went viral after being shared by the National Weather Service, which said that the weather phenomenon’s rotation was so intense that it was detected by radar.
A fire whirl is defined by US forest service officials as a ‘spinning vortex column of ascending hot air and gases rising from a fire and carrying aloft smoke, debris and flame.’
The Tennant Fire burned 10,580 acres since it started on June 28 and is 91 percent contained, the US forest service said on Friday.
The fire tornado tears through the Tennant wildfire in Northern California. A clip of the rare weather phenomenon was shared by the National Weather Service on Friday, as California was warned to brace itself for a 117F heatwave
The fire tornado, or fire whirl, is defined by US forest service officials as a ‘spinning vortex column of ascending hot air and gases rising from a fire and carrying aloft smoke, debris and flame’