The American southwest is battling extreme temperatures and blazing wildfires. The National Weather Service issued heat advisories – and in some cases excessive heat warnings – in California, Arizona, and New Mexico as temperatures threaten to climb higher this week. In Arizona, four people have already died.
A crazy ‘firenado’ was captured on video in California’s Sherpa Fire in Santa Barbara County. The fire has burned close to 8,000 acres so far and is just 51 percent contained. Fires in Arizona and New Mexico have scorched even more acres. Arizona’s Cedar Head Fire has burned 12,140 acres and New Mexico’s Dog Head Fire has blazed through 17,891. Neither of those are as contained as the Sherpa Fire, and the Dog Head Fire is just nine percent contained. CNN reports all together, an area larger than Paris is burning.
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A weather pattern called a ‘heat dome’ has exacerbated temperatures. This occurs when a high pressure system in the atmosphere pushes hot air back down, trapping it and resulting in hotter temperatures than normal.
CNN’s meteorologist said the three states have seen the hottest temperatures at the beginning of summer ever. Phoenix hit 118 degrees Fahrenheit, and the National Weather Service warned that in some desert areas, the temperature could reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit. 14 California locations hit at least 117 degrees Fahrenheit. In New Mexico, seven locations shattered heat records as well.
In Pima County, Arizona, two hikers perished because of the heat, and a 25-year-old male and 28-year-old female died in Phoenix. 30 million people live in the areas that have received heat warnings. The National Weather Service warned that such extreme temperatures “can be life-threatening.”
Via CNN and Global News
Images via Susie Cagle on Flickr, Josh Berlinger on Twitter, and the National Weather Service
Video via Global News