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article imageClimate change is driving the extremes in weather and wildfires

By Karen Graham     Sep 10, 2020 in Environment
We have seen two intense heatwaves on the U.S. West Coast, followed by some of the most catastrophic wildfires in recent memory - while a few hundred miles to the East, temperatures dropped and two feet of snow fell. Coincidence? No, it's climate change.
Of over 90 wildfires burning in 13 Western states, 28 are currently raging within California. The smoke and ash from the fires in our three westernmost states - Oregon, Washington and California - painted the skies with a foreboding burnt orange glow that lasted all of Wednesday.
Wind-driven fires were also blazing in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, according to USA Today.
Then, there is the extremely rare almost two-feet of snow that fell in parts of Wyoming and Colorado this week. In a period of just 18 hours, the temperature dropped 60 degrees. Think about this - According to NOAA's State of the Climate Report, released Wednesday, during the month of August the U.S. was hit by four different billion-dollar disasters: two hurricanes, huge wildfires and an extraordinary Midwest derecho.
"This is yet another example of where uncertainty is not our friend," says Michael Mann, distinguished professor of atmospheric science at Penn State. "As we learn more, we are finding that many climate change impacts, including these sorts of extreme weather events, are playing out faster and with greater magnitude than our models predicted."
In Northern California, wildfires are again threatening the town of Paradise, literally wiped off the map in the 2018 Camp Fire. Many families have already evacuated after witnessing the destruction in neighboring Oroville yesterday, reports The Hill.
"Firefighters across the Western states are seeing extreme fire behavior," according to the National Fire Information Center. Three deaths have been reported in California, three in Oregon, and one in Washington state.
The extreme fire behavior is very worrisome. Not only are the winds ferocious at times, but add in the extreme low humidity and drought-like conditions, and you have a recipe for disaster. In addition, a stagnant air mass will likely keep areas of smoke in place across the Northwest, Great Basin, California and other areas across the West dealing with the wildfires, resulting in continued poor air quality, AccuWeather said.
The thing is - climate scientists have been warning us for a number of years that this is what we can start expecting as global warming sets in with a vengeance. We have a choice, you know. We can bury our heads in the sand and just ignore the warnings and choose to not see the disaster playing out before our eyes - or- we can grasp the bull by the horns and do something about it. It is a choice we will have to make - not tomorrow - but right now.
More about Climate change, extremes, Weather, Wildfires, Drought
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