Biden meets with Western states, plans for harsh wildfire season


Via Flickr.

Eleanor Hildebrandt | July 1, 2021

President Joe Biden met with governors from Western states on Wednesday to discuss the record-breaking heat wave their states face this summer. He said climate change is what is driving the increased threat of wildfires on the coast.

Governors from California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming met with the president. Portland, Oregon, set a record-high temperature three days in a row this week. Seattle, Washington, also saw high temperatures, hitting 108 degrees, eight below Portland’s high. The heat is causing some medical emergencies and sudden deaths in states, according to CNN.

This was the first meeting of its kind, however, there are annual meetings between the Federal Emergency Management Agency officials and presidents to discuss the Atlantic hurricane season. The wildfire season this year is shaping up to be devastating. Biden said the states are “playing catch-up” when it comes to counteracting these fires and their root causes, calling the area “under-resourced.”

The National Interagency Fire Center estimated more than 1 million acres in Western states have burned already this year.

At the meeting, Biden announced his plans to create an incentive program for firefighters to improve recruitment and retention. The administration also plans to expand the federal government’s wildfire prevention and response.

Congress warning of urgent drought crisis in the West while Iowa’s eases


Via Flickr,

Eleanor Hildebrandt | May 28, 2021

Nearly 90 percent of the American West is currently experiencing drought conditions while recent rains are helping Iowa have a less severe outlook than predicted earlier this year.

More than 35 percent of Iowa is currently in some level of drought or abnormal dryness, down 12 percent from three months ago, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Some northwest Iowa counties are enduring drought conditions while southern Iowa is currently in the clear. The wet weather is easing the current dry spell, but that is not the case for the majority of the Western United States currently, especially in the Southwest.

Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah are seeing particularly dry conditions this year. The people who rely on the Colorado River for access to water and power could see serious issues in coming years if nothing is done to ease droughts in the area. The river’s reservoirs are dangerously low.

The U.S. Drought Monitor estimates there are 57 million people who are currently living in drought areas across the western part of the country. 2021 might join 2003 and 2013 as one of the potentially worst stretches of droughts in the United States. A dangerous fire season is predicted this year as dry conditions worsen.

One of the reasons for the lack of rain is this past winter’s wet season being relatively dry. The Pacific Northwest, however, is seeing more similarities with Iowa since it had normal snowfall this past winter.