By Siri Ratnam
San Jose, California
For the last five days, the state of California has been plagued by a heatwave of record proportions, a direct contrast to the state’s iconic and often ideal Mediterranean climate. The high temperatures proved to be a danger to the state’s power supply and similar effects were seen by much of the western half of the United States. The consequences of the heatwave are only amplified by California’s history of wildfires and comes amongst growing demand for change in the fight against climate change.
California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, announced that residents should aim to conserve, paired with the California Independent System Operator warning Californians about rolling power outages in order to cater to the need for electricity as people attempt to cool off. Of course, California has a history of record-breaking wildfires known for causing devastation and lasting for days. Images from the 2020 wildfire season took over the internet, characterized by glowing red skies over the San Francisco Bay Area. The state is already at risk for longer and more difficult wildfire seasons due to the lower levels of moisture in the air. This comes as a result of extreme drought conditions.
Now, the southern portion of the state, consisting of major cities such as Los Angeles and San Diego, faces flash flooding due to Tropical Storm Kay. The storm, previously classified as a hurricane, dropped a year’s worth of rain on Southern California, and while this helped firefighters battling wildfires in some regions, in others, it could pose a serious threat. For example, in Riverside County, the wind from Tropical Storm Kay may reach up to 75mph, causing the Fairview fire to spread quicker.
California is a state not necessarily known for wild, cyclonic weather such as this, causing these past few weeks to remain an outlier for the time being. However, there is cause for concern as weather patterns across the world, not just California, have become more and more apocalyptic. Between extreme hurricanes in the American South, wildfires and drought in the West, and extreme heatwaves everywhere, increasingly dangerous weather proves to be a testament to the growing need for climate action.