WORLD / AMERICAS
US struggles with climate catastrophes
Floods, fires, heat waves ravage country, warning of future calamities
Published: Jun 15, 2022 05:06 PM
An American flag is placed on a burned fire engine at a burned fire station in downtown Greenville, California, US on Saturday. Photo: AFP

An American flag is placed on a burned fire engine at a burned fire station in downtown Greenville, California, US on Saturday. Photo: AFP

Raging floods, devastating fires, powerful thunderstorms and a dangerous heat wave affecting a third of the population: The US was being walloped Tuesday by climate-related catastrophes.

A series of slow-motion disasters are gripping the country as it enters summer, with warnings of misery for months to come in some areas.

Around 120 million people were under some sort of advisory as a heat wave scorched the Upper Midwest and the Southeast.

"A dome of high pressure is expected to generate well-above-normal to record-breaking temperatures across the region both today and tomorrow," with heat indices "well into the triple digits in many locations," the National Weather Service (NWS) said in a statement.

Parts of Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio were warned to expect the mercury to reach 109 F (43 C).

NWS meteorologist Alex Lamers said the high-pressure dome was sparking extreme events around its periphery.

"A lot of times you get a pretty big heat wave and if you look around the edges of that you'll see thunderstorms and tornadoes, flash flooding, extreme rainfall," he told AFP.

The heat dome's northern edge, where high temperatures collided with colder air, saw some violent storms Monday.

Hundreds of thousands of people were without power in the Midwest after thunderstorms tore through the area.

That cold front was expected to bring more unsettled weather, with hail and damaging winds forecast.

Further west, dramatic photographs and videos published by the National Park Service showed the devastation wreaked by flooding in Yellowstone, the country's oldest national park.

The 3,400-square-mile (8,900-square-kilometer) park in Wyoming, which is home to the famous Old Faithful geyser, was shuttered on Monday after a flooded river swept away roads and cut off a nearby community.

Rangers warned of "extremely hazardous conditions" and told anyone still in the park to get out.

"Flood levels measured on the Yellowstone River are beyond record levels," the NPS said on its website.

"Preliminary assessments show multiple sections of roads throughout the park have been either washed out or covered in mud or rocks, and multiple bridges may be affected."

The small community of Gardiner, which sits just outside the park boundary in the state of Montana, was cut off, with water and power out to several properties, the NPS said.

There were also warnings of excessive heat for parts of California and Arizona, which were blasted by furnace-like conditions at the weekend.

AFP