It’s a hot and muggy night out with “heat lightning” flashing through the clouds in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The temperature today was 97°F with a heat index of 111°F. Perfect sauna temperatures for those who like to go to sauna — just add in mosquitos, flying biting roaches, snakes, and moths to that mix — oh, and cute little frogs and geckos — and you have my backyard. Despite all of the sweating everyone is doing these days, and despite the heat that is so draining that no matter how much water you drink, you’re still thirsty, we have it pretty nice compared to our fellow Americans over in Death Valley.
Death Valley National Park hit a scorching 130 degrees — marking what could be the hottest temperature on Earth since at least 1913.
Visitors are getting blunt advice: "Travel prepared to survive."https://t.co/JaARYuGPOY
— NPR (@NPR) August 17, 2020
NPR just reported that the temperature at Death Valley National Park hit 130 degrees on Sunday, the hottest temperature on the planet since 1913. For those visiting the park, this tidbit of advice should alarm you: “Travel prepared to survive.” My advice: Don’t go. Stay home, because if you do go and you’re not prepared, you will die or get pretty close to death. It’s called Death Valley for a reason.
The temperature was recorded at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center and was the hottest August temperature ever recorded at the park. Weather experts are still debating as to whether or not Death Valley’s 1913 record of 134 degrees is reliable — so this could be the world’s hottest temperature ever. Luckily, the temperature was taken by an automated observation system and not some poor soul trapped in the heat trying to collect data.
NPR noted that the preliminary reading is still in the process of being officially verified, but we can all agree that it’s hot as hell outside. “As this is an extreme temperature event, the recorded temperature will need to undergo a formal review,” the National Weather Service (Las Vegas) said.
Although parts of the park remain open to visitors and campers, the park service is advising anyone who wants to hike to do these things:
- Complete your trip by mid-morning.
- Avoid hiking after 10 am.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Carry extra water with you.
Intense Heat Across The Country
It’s hot everywhere, to the point that in California electrical grids are feeling the strain. Not to mention wildfires and fire tornados. Just last week the National Weather Service issued a tornado warning for a “pyrocumulonumbus cloud” that formed by the Loyalton Fire. This cloud was “capable of producing a fire-induced tornado and outflow winds in excess of 60 mph,” according to CNN meteorologist Haley Brin.
And that’s exactly what happened. These clouds form above intense rising heat that is usually a result of a fire or volcano. Firenados are created when the rising heat from a fire pulls in fire, smoke, and dirt, and creates a rotation vortex above the blaze. The cause of the Loyalton fire was lightning — when you add easily combustible materials to a dry and hot climate, you have a deadly mix.
The connection between climate change and wildfires is present. Back in 2011, the Union of Concerned Scientists penned a report that emphasized this link. Wildfire activity in the US “is changing dangerously, particularly in the west, as conditions become hotter and drier due to climate change,” the article, written 9 years ago, noted. As we look back, it’s pretty obvious to see just how eerily accurate they were and still are. The article noted that development patterns could increase people’s exposure to wildfires as well as create ignition sources that spark fires — such as the Loyalton fire that produced the firenado.
The article also touched on the fact that western US fires are on the rise and that Alaskan wildfires are increasing “twice as fast as the rest of the country.” And these wildfires have been recorded to have burned over 2 million acres each fire year. And that’s just here. Last year, Australia burned as well. The fires got so bad there that they destroyed ancient trees that had been around since the time fo the dinosaurs. And earlier this year, satellite data showed that the Amazon Rainforest could be next. It’s drier than normal due to less groundwater and changes in the soil’s moisture.
Earth has a message, and humans, in general, have been deaf. So she is resorting to fire in hope of burning that message into our heads, it seems. That message is that we need to stop using fossil fuels — stop contributing toward the heating of this planet. If we can’t, then we will have to one day live in a world that is hotter than we’ve ever experienced — we will have to adapt, a lot. If we include clean energy and eco-friendly solutions as a part of our adaptation, experts say we may still have a chance at doing alright. However, this is an all-in task. Everyone has to contribute, and this means convincing those who think climate change is a hoax that it’s time to wake up to reality.