Millions of people across California are bracing for an apocalyptic battle with Mother Nature over the coming days as a tropical storm threatens to add intense moisture to the already devastating mix of excessive heat and raging wildfires, sparked by historic drought conditions, in many parts of the state.
The record heat has put extraordinary pressure on the state’s electric-power grid as people try to cool off, causing utilities to call for voluntary cuts in service to make sure there is enough juice for fundamental infrastructure.
Now new wildfires have produced thick clouds of smoke, which have started to compromise the solar power grid by blocking sunlight. Two blazes—the Fairview Fire in Southern California and the Mosquito Fire in the Sierra—have been particularly challenging to contain. Thousands of people have been evacuated and at least two people have died while trying to escape.
Extraordinary images of #MosquitoFire this evening. This one is going to be burning & producing large volumes of smoke for many days, so folks in NorCal and western Nevada should prepare for a potentially prolonged period of smoke-related air quality impacts. #CAwx #NVwx #CAfire pic.twitter.com/ljvMWRy4ws
— Daniel Swain (@Weather_West) September 9, 2022
As if the heat and fires weren’t challenging enough, Tropical Storm Kay, which has luckily lost its hurricane-strength punch, will make landfall in northern Baja California on Friday, which will bring welcome moisture, but accompanying chaos in the form of strong winds and flash flooding.
The rain, as the storm makes its way along the West Coast, is expected to dissipate, but the winds could add dangerous new fuel to fires in Northern California and Oregon.
#TropicalStorm #Kay continues moving parallel to the #Baja #California peninsula...heavy rains and flooding ongoing in #Mexico and anticipated to spread into southern california and #Arizona today... Pressure: 991 mb, Wind Speed: 50 mph https://t.co/r55GGdbxGn pic.twitter.com/PIcEsRc7sP
— Hurricane Tracker (@ushurricanebot) September 9, 2022
After a worrying weekend, the forecast is expected to change.
“The seemingly endless heat wave that has been plaguing California will finally becoming to an end across at least Southern California, but not before two more very hot days and very warm nights,” the Los Angeles-area National Weather Service station tweeted. But for many, the damage will have already been done.