Photo Credit: Gregory Bull/AP
A tropical storm is wreaking havoc in the southern part of California, dealing damage to life and property. The heavy rains and severe winds were felt on Friday, prompting possible floods and disruptions to power lines. On the other hand, the areas affected were relieved of the high temperatures they had felt for over ten days following a heat wave.
The National Weather Service reported that Hurricane Kay made landfall in Baja California Sur state last Thursday. Fortunately, the hurricane weakened moments after it hit land. However, the tropical storm packed winds around 109 mph or 175 kph.
Firefighters expressed concern that the hurricane affecting Southern California would trigger powerful winds that could intensify the Fairview fire, located 121 kilometers southeast of Los Angeles. But the crew was able to contain the fair and reported that by Monday, the team would have already fully controlled the fire. Over 10,000 houses and other structures were affected by the fire, and thousands are still inside evacuation centers.
The hurricane was a convenient occurrence after the area suffered from a heat wave that pushed temperatures to hover over 100 degrees Fahrenheit or 38 degrees Celsius. San Diego also fell victim to the scorching heat. Fortunately, the hurricane came and provided temporary relief to the residents from the heat.
“The heat was killer, so for now, this feels good. I just hope the water doesn’t get too high. But I will rough it. I’ve got pallets I can put underneath to keep out the rain.”
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Residents are wary, though, that despite the relief that the rain brought, there are hazards that come along with heavy rains. For instance, a twin-engine plane slid past the runway when it landed at the Naval Air Station North Island in Colorado. The plane was damaged, and the two pilots who were onboard the plane had to be taken to the hospital for observation.
Several parts of Southern California saw moderate rains but had chances of heavy downpours over the weekend. According to officials, there is a high chance of flooding if the rains will continue. Coastal communities and houses in low-lying areas have been advised to be alert for possible evacuation initiatives should the water rise to the average level.
The heat before the storm
Western states, including California, have had the hottest September on record. The heat waves recorded in the area were also the longest. Consequently, the phenomenon strained energy grids, leading prices to soar. As a result, several regions that house more than 54 million citizens were put under intense heat advisories and warnings this week.
Last Tuesday, the state capital of California, Sacramento, recorded a high of 116 degrees Fahrenheit or 46.7 degrees Celsius – the highest in nearly 79 years. Meanwhile, Salt Lake City also reached the 40-degree Celcius threshold, seeing temperatures rise as much as 41.6 degrees Celsius or 107 degrees Fahrenheit.
Power grids and other infrastructures are affected
The extreme conditions of heat and rains have inflicted damage to many structures across states, most especially to power grids. As the heat continues, establishments and households have to increase the capacity of their air conditioning systems to battle the stifling heat outside. As a result, power consumption and demand spiked, leading to blackouts as power grids could not meet the demand.
According to scientists, in just thirty years, climate change has caused Western countries to become warmer and drier. The condition only makes it more potent for more destructive and intense wildfires. In fact, California saw the most destructive wildfire in its history within just five years.
For example, the Mosquito Fire in eastern Sacramento has doubled in size, covering a total of 46 square miles or 119 square kilometers of land, and has endangered more than 3,600 households in El Dorado and Placer counties.
Opinions expressed by Texas Today contributors are their own.