Extreme Weather impacts Millions across the US
WEDNESDAY JUNE 22, 2022 AS OF 1:30 PM EST
As the summer months continue, extreme weather consistently persists across the United States (US).
HEAT WAVE PROMPTS WARNINGS ACROSS US
Excessive heat and humidity continues to blanket the Plains and Midwest, and the weather is expected to expand east and reach the Southeast US by mid-week, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS). The NWS reported high temperatures throughout the Mississippi Valley toward the Southern Plains, stretching east into the Great Lakes and Deep South. Temperature anomalies in the Great Lakes are facing highs 15 to 25 degrees above normal. Daytime high temperatures are predicted to reach the triple digits by Wednesday, June 22. As a result of heat conditions, the NWS issued heat advisories for many locations across the country. The extreme heat noticeably increases the risk of heat-related illnesses, especially for those working or staying outdoors. The NWS cautioned individuals to drink plenty of fluids, stay out of the sun, remain in air-conditioned rooms, and check on relatives and neighbors.
Energy company Entergy, which provides power for 3 million customers throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, reported they anticipate to see the “highest energy usage by our customers that the company has ever seen” for the week ahead, following the high temperatures recorded throughout the county. Entergy cautioned they were working to ensure they have enough power for customers across the country to avoid any power disruptions.
NBC-affiliate Kare 11 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, reported the extreme heat has even caused two roads in the area to buckle over the past weekend: Highway 100 in Golden Valley and I-35E north of Rush City. The Minnesota Department of Transportation cautioned drivers to try and avoid driving over any potential road buckles or cracks, which could pose dangerous hazards for drivers.
While the Northeast enjoys a break from the heat in the wake of a frontal passage, the Plains and Southeast will continue to experience temperatures 10-20 degrees F above-average with humid conditions through the upcoming week, as an anomalous ridge builds into the region. 🌡️🥵 pic.twitter.com/GGRieLQZQE
— NWS Weather Prediction Center (@NWSWPC) June 18, 2022
NWS Weather Prediction Center: Twitter
Extreme heat conditions were responsible for at least 2,000 cattle deaths in southwest Kansas over the weekend of June 11, with National Public Radio (NPR) reporting the intense heat stress for cattle resulted in thousands of animal deaths. Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) Communications Director Matt Lara told NPR the agency was aware of at least 2,000 cattle deaths as a result of the heat conditions that resulted in temperatures higher than 100 degrees, which made it “difficult for the cows to stay cool.” NPR suggested the actual number could be higher, as cattle ranches are not required to report the losses. According to the US Drought Monitor, the entirety of western Kansas is currently classified as abnormally dry or in a drought.
CNN reported the heat dome has spread across the Plains and Midwest, with 70 percent of the US population experiencing temperatures in the 90s in the week of June 20, while 20 percent of citizens are anticipated to experience temperatures greater than 100 degrees. According to AccuWeather, the dome is a wall of heat that is moving over the southern Plains and lower Mississippi Valley region, with temperatures reaching into the 90s and triple-digits within the core of the dome. Buildup from the heat can make urban areas uncomfortable in the evening, as paved, brick, and concrete surfaces release heat absorbed through the day during nighttime hours. The heat wave has been ongoing for two straight weeks. NPR noted that over 25 major cities tied or broke record-high temperatures on Saturday, June 11, due to a heatwave that stretched across most of the Southwestern US, enveloping roughly 53 million people under excessive heat warnings.
WILDFIRES FUELED BY EXTREME HEAT
Extreme heat waves and critically dry conditions continue to increase the risk for wildfire activity across the US. According to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), 45 large fires are currently active across 10 states, burning more than 1.8 million acres. Alaska is experiencing the bulk of active fires, with 29 currently burning, while Arizona has six active fires and New Mexico is facing three. In its monthly seasonal outlook, the NIFC indicates the year-to-date total of acres burned within the US is approximately 112 percent above the 10-year average.
The Lime Complex, the largest fire burning in the US, currently spans over 484,720 acres of Southwest Alaska. According to Alaska Wildland Fire Information, the Lime Complex is a series of 18 lightning-caused wildfires (with response teams only staffed to handle four fires). Meanwhile, record-breaking temperatures and gusty winds have intensified fire conditions in western states. In New Mexico, NIFC InciWeb recorded that the Hermit’s Peak and Calf Canyon fire complex continues to impact areas east of Santa Fe. The complex has burned a total of 341,471 acres since early April, making it the state’s largest wildfire on record, and it is currently sitting at 72 percent containment. Forest Service law enforcement officers have arrested and charged a subject in connection with the wildfire for natural resource violations, according to InciWeb.
Views from the O’Leary Webcam at 360 Overwatch tonight at 8:28 p.m. give us an idea of just how far this fire has spread… from the peak to the valley below. The views we’re accustomed to will be black come morning. This is why we obey burn bans! #PipelineFire #azwx pic.twitter.com/YRhcKbajpM
— NWS Flagstaff (@NWSFlagstaff) June 14, 2022
NWS Flagstaff: Twitter
FLOODING ACROSS YELLOWSTONE
An unexpected atmospheric river made landfall in the Pacific Northwest over the weekend of June 10 -12, leading to extreme flash flooding early last week in Yellowstone National Park. According to NOAA, atmospheric rivers are regions in the atmosphere that transport water vapor and generally release it as rain or snow once they reach land. This weather event produced heavy rainfall which, combined with rapid snowmelt from rising temperatures, caused rivers to swell and overflow their banks leading to intense flooding throughout the lower elevations in the park and surrounding towns. The Yellowstone River surpassed its historical high crest by more than two feet.
Montana’s Governor, Greg Gianforte, declared a statewide disaster on Tuesday, June 14, and the National Park Service (NPS) closed all entrances to Yellowstone Park on Monday, June 13. More than 10,000 visitors were ordered to leave the park for their own safety, and about 100 people were airlifted to safety. Videos and photos taken by visitors show flood waters inundating areas and sweeping away entire buildings and sections of roads. Due to severe damage to roads, power lines, and other critical infrastructure, Yellowstone’s north loop will remain closed for an indefinite amount of time and the south loop will reopen on June 22.
Outside of Yellowstone, gateway towns, including Billings, the largest city in Montana, were also affected by the high flood waters. Rising rivers destroyed bridges, inundated homes, and impacted water infrastructure in surrounding towns. One town named Gardiner, located close to the border of Wyoming and Montana, was mostly spared damage from flood water; however, roads in and out of the small town were not leading to hundreds of residents and visitors to be stranded until Tuesday, June 14.
⚠️UPDATE (6/14 @ 6:38pm)⚠️
Northern portion of Yellowstone likely to remain closed for substantial length of time due to severely damaged, impacted infrastructure. Visitors traveling to park soon must stay informed about current situation, roads & weather https://t.co/mymnqGvcVB pic.twitter.com/li6Vwy4qLt
— Yellowstone National Park (@YellowstoneNPS) June 15, 2022
Yellowstone NPS: Twitter
Know Your Alerts and Warnings: Ready.gov
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) urges individuals to take the necessary precautions to protect themselves against these violent storms. An essential preparedness measure is to sign up in advance for your community’s emergency alerts and warnings and to pay close attention to local weather reports for real-time conditions. Ready.gov provides information on how to prepare for, survive during, and be safe after various extreme weather events.