A wave of deadly heat is rolling across the U.S. The ongoing drought in the West is stretching water supplies thinner than ever while supercharged rainstorms have unleashed devastating flooding in Yellowstone National Park. Wildfire season is off to a roaring start.
Get used to it.
- Alaska’s devastating wildfire season is the latest climate change-fueled disaster
- Climate change is extending natural disaster seasons from wildfires to tornadoes to hurricanes
- Mapping the summer from hell: Extreme heat was widespread across the U.S. this season — and it will get worse
- Welcome to Grid
- From West to East, Wildfire Risk Is Now a National Problem
For years, scientists have warned about the risks of compounding climate change-related disasters, how as the climate warms one calamity can piggyback on another and trigger a cascade of struggle and misery. The warnings are coming true, particularly in the western half of the country.
Hot, dry and burning
“Any given summer from this point onward will have a higher chance of getting exceptional heat waves,” said Wang. “This year is no exception.”
As the heat waves come and go with increasing frequency, the American West remains mired in a decadeslong and worsening drought.
And with heat, and drought, comes fire.
The coldest summer of the rest of your life
If the compounding disasters of this early part of summer feel like climate change finally slapping us all in the face, the slap might feel more like a punch in the years to come.
“That, to me, is the big challenge of climate change,” Cook said. “We need to start to plan not for the way things have been, but we need to start planning for the way things are going to be.”
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