Record heat and floods are the latest extreme weather events in the United States this summer.
Four people died in the floods in Kentucky and St. Louis.
Temperatures in the Pacific Northwest exceeded 100 degrees in some places, and over 85 million people were under warning of heat.
Extreme weather events dominated this summer in the United States, with some regions experiencing record heat while others experienced deadly flooding. Both events are becoming more common and more serious due to the climate crisis.
After torrential rains in St. Louis earlier in the week, eastern Kentucky witnessed storms that brought devastating flooding to areas of the state. As of Thursday afternoon, three people were confirmed dead as a result of the flood.
“I expect double-digit deaths in this flood,” said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear.
Less than 48 hours earlier, a man in St. Louis died after a flood submerged his car in more than 8 feet of water, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. More than 9 inches of rain fell in just 24 hours, the highest rate in St. Louis history, providing more than 25% of the city’s average annual rainfall in just 12 hours, according to the National Meteorological Service.
Firefighters in the area rescued more than 400 people during the flood, while 10 puppies drowned in a dog rescue center in a suburb of St. Louis, according to the newspaper.
Parts of the city’s light rail system were damaged by the floods when the waters covered the tracks. Residents using the damaged areas of the public transit system were advised to seek alternative transportation “until further notice,” likely for two weeks, according to the Post-Dispatch.
The impact of Tuesday’s rains and floods is expected to be felt by St. Louis residents for weeks, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Meanwhile, residents of the Pacific Northwest are facing an exhausting heat. The Oregon governor declared a state of emergency in 25 counties of the state on Tuesday, with temperatures expected to rise above 100 degrees for most of the week, KGW8 reported. In western Washington, temperatures broke records on Tuesday.
More than 85 million Americans were on heat alert as of Sunday, NPR reported.
“I encourage everyone to take proactive steps to keep themselves and their families safe, including drinking plenty of fluids, taking advantage of cooling centers, and monitoring their neighbors, friends and loved ones,” Oregon Governor Kate Brown said in a declaration .
The heat in the region is not expected to subside for the rest of the week, ABC News reported. Parts of California, Nevada and Idaho are on high alert until Saturday.
Temperatures are rising and rainfall is changing
Climate change, driven by all the greenhouse gases humans have released into the atmosphere, is changing the planet’s water cycle. Rising temperatures are increasing the evaporation of water and changing the atmospheric and ocean currents that distribute moisture around the world. In some places, drought is becoming more common, extreme or prolonged. In others, such as the US Midwest, heavy rains and floods are on the rise.
As temperatures rise around the world, climate change also makes heat waves more common, severe and long-lasting and spreads them over a wider geographic area. Scientists have already observed these changes in heat waves over the past few decades and expect extreme heat to continue to become increasingly dangerous and prevalent in the future.
This year is perfectly demonstrating the trend. The United States has been bombarded with record-breaking heat waves, some lasting two weeks or more, since spring. Europe, China, the Middle East, North Africa and much of South and Central Asia also experienced repeated extreme heat events this year.
Across the Mediterranean region, other parts of Europe and the United States, heat has dried up the landscape and fueled large fires, another type of extreme climate that is becoming more common and severe in many parts of the world with the rising temperatures on the planet.
“We are in a climate that is constantly shifting to more extreme extremes. From that perspective, that’s exactly what we’d expect and what scientists have predicted will happen over the past decade,” said Kai Kornhuber, a climate physicist at Columbia University. Insider in mid-July.
Seattle’s previous temperature record for July 26 was 92 degrees, but this year it hit 94 degrees, according to the National Meteorological Service. The town of Bellingham has seen a 4-degree rise, from its 1988 record of 86 degrees, to 90 degrees this year.
“Extreme heat is a deadly danger that we will see more of in Seattle due to climate change,” Curry Mayer, Seattle’s director of emergency management, said in a statement. “We ask residents to take extreme heat seriously by understanding the danger and learning to protect yourself, your family and your neighbors.”
Meteorologists don’t expect temperatures to soar as high as they did during the devastating heat event that claimed more than 1,400 deaths in the Pacific Northwest last year. The 2021 event would have been “virtually impossible” without climate change, according to an analysis of historical data from World Weather Attribution.
“We don’t have to go down this path,” said Kornhuber, calling for a rapid reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. “But if things continue to develop as they are, it is quite clear that we will see more record-breaking extremes and more simultaneous extremes just like this year, and even more extremes.”
Read the original article on Business Insider