Summer is around the corner and a heatwave is coming along with the change in seasons. Across the west coast, nearly 45 million Americans were placed under heat advisory warnings. Cities like Denver, Colorado and Helena, Montana experienced temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit as well. Unfortunately, high temperatures like those recorded in Montana and Colorado will be the rule, not the exception, this summer.
In the coming months, a report from NBC News suggests that temperatures on the west coast could inch up to 127 degrees Fahrenheit. Moreover, weather experts expect more than 200 daily temperature records to be broken in the coming months. As a result, power grid operators in Texas and Colorado are asking citizens to conserve energy in order to avoid blackouts. Making matters worse, potential blackouts typically hit communities of color and financially disadvantaged communities the hardest. For example, PG&E’s blackouts in northern California left thousands of low-income families without running water, hot meals and paychecks in fall 2019. More recently, blackouts in Texas this past February left thousands of low-income families, many in Black and brown communities, without heat for days on end.
“Whether it’s flooding from severe weather events like hurricanes or it’s something like this severe cold, the history of our response to disasters is that these communities are hit first and have to suffer the longest,” Robert Bullard of Texas Southern University told The New York Times.
Running for higher elevation will not work either. Areas that typically experience lower temperatures like Grand Junction, Colorado and Flagstaff, Arizona have also experienced temperatures in the high 80s and 90s as of late.
Moving forward, about four million people remain under "red flag" warnings as high temperatures increase the potential for fires to sweep across the west coast.