In the Golden State, residents saw both rainfall and record heat in the same week as what was once Tropical Storm Kay made a rare close pass in California following a wave of prolonged heat.
San Diego received 0.61 inches of rain Friday, breaking a previous daily rainfall record of 0.09 inches set in 1976. More than 5 inches of rain was recorded over two days in San Diego County’s Mount Laguna, according to the National Weather Service.
According to CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam, Kay has weakened from the strength of its tropical storm that hit the United States, after arriving in Mexico as a Category 1 hurricane on Thursday.
The remnants of the storm – which began moving away from Southern California on Saturday – could bring further thunderstorms and flooding to the region on Sunday as the system moves away from the Pacific coast. Heavy showers were especially possible in inland valleys and mountains on Sunday.
The downgraded storm system still measured sustained winds of 40 mph, worrying officials handling the Fairview Fire in Southern California’s Riverside County. But the moisture from the storm ended up helping in the firefight.
Fairview firefighting crews were able to contain the 28,307-acre blaze to 43% – thanks to ample humidity, some rainfall and cooler temperatures. The raging fire, which broke out on Monday, killed two civilians and injured a third, forced thousands to evacuate and destroyed 30 buildings.
“With the recent arrival of rains, the drought-stricken area not only received much needed rainfall, but also assisted firefighters by slowing the spread of the Fairview Fire,” Cal Fire said. said
On Saturday, three people were injured when a helicopter assigned to the Fairview fire crashed into a residential yard while trying to land at a local airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
A pilot and two firefighters who were on board the helicopter were taken to an area trauma center for further evaluation, Cal Fire said.
To the north, cooler temperatures were also a welcome relief for crews battling the Mosquito Fire, which had consumed 37,326 acres Saturday night as it burned in El Dorado and Placer counties. However, high winds continued to spread the fire to the north and northeast, firefighters said. said
Meanwhile, wildfires were also engulfing large areas of dry vegetation in neighboring Oregon and Idaho, where firefighters were dealing with hotter, drier conditions.
The Cedar Creek Fire in Oregon has so far burned 74,420 acres and is only 12% contained, amid persistent severe weather Saturday. The blaze is expected to worsen overnight as the region experiences hot, dry conditions and strong easterly winds, according to fire authorities.
Hot, dry and unstable conditions could also increase fire behavior for Idaho’s Moose Fire, which has currently burned 125,993 acres and is 37% contained, fire officials said.
Summer temperatures break records
While the West experiences record heat, the nation as a whole faces a particularly hot summer.
The average August temperature in the United States was 74.6 degrees, 2.5 degrees above average, making it the eighth hottest August on record. The month was also marked by several extreme rainfall events that resulted in historic flooding, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Overall, it was also the third hottest weather summer on record in the United States, according to NOAA.
California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington ranked the hottest on record for August nighttime temperatures.
Meanwhile, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Texas all experienced their second hottest summer on record.
September was no different.
Temperature records have been broken across the West over the past week, including in Sacramento
which hit an all-time high of 116 degrees on Tuesday.
“This will be essentially the worst September heat wave on record, certainly in northern California and arguably for the state as a whole,” UCLA climatologist Daniel Swain said Tuesday during a a discussion on Twitter Spaces. “By some metrics, this could be one of the worst heat waves on record, period, in a month, given its extreme duration and magnitude.”
The climate crisis is increasing the size of heat domes and has increased the frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves, he said.
CNN’s Tina Burnside contributed to this report.