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The hottest summer on record across the American west

As a result of the climate crisis, California experienced its hottest summer ever, resulting in deadly heatwaves and major wildfires across the state and across the west. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data show Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Utah, together representing 18.4% of the contiguous US, also had record warm summers.

In addition to the top-five states, sixteen others reported a warm summer. There was a 2.6F increase in average temperatures in June, July and August across the lower 48 states. It is slightly higher than the Dust Bowl summer of 1936. This summer, the west was hit with three historic heatwaves, as cities across the usually cool Pacific north-west experienced the highest temperatures on record.

Washington and Oregon suffered early summer heatwaves that killed hundreds. Additionally, nearly 500 people lost their lives in Canada’s westernmost province. According to experts, the heat had probably also killed more than 1 billion marine animals along Canada’s Pacific coast. The heat in the US forced the closure of schools, businesses, outdoor pools, and COVID-19 testing centers as well as mobile vaccination units.

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Based on detailed scientific analyses, a heatwave such as this would have been virtually impossible without human-caused climate change. Deputy chief of Cal Fire Thom Porter commented last month, ‘We have never seen fire activity like this in California before. People need to know they need to evacuate early’.  Additionally, he stated, ‘Every acre can and will burn someday in this state’.


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