CLIMATE GLIMPSE: Fires in Chile, California rains and Spain drought spread pain of weather extremes


Camila Lange, who is 7-months-pregnant, on Monday sat with her husband and dog in what used to be their home in Vina del Mar, Chile. Hundreds of homes in the central coastal area of the South American nation have been destroyed in fires that have killed at least 112 people.

Weather and climate extremes — wildfire, drought and flooding — are taking a toll around the world. Here’s some of what’s happening now.

— In Chile, firefighters are battling huge forest fires stoked by hot and dry conditions. The fires are burning with the highest intensity around the city of Vina del Mar, where a famous botanical garden founded in 1931 was destroyed by flames. Several neighborhoods on the eastern edge of the popular beach resort of 300,000 people were devoured by flames and smoke, trapping some people in their homes.

— In California, the second of back-to-back moisture-packed atmospheric rivers is taking aim at Southern California, unleashing mudslides, flooding roadways and knocking out power to about 1.4 million people in the Los Angeles area. Up to 9 inches (23 centimeters) of rain had already fallen by Monday, with more expected, according to the National Weather Service.

In Northern California, the storm inundated streets and brought down trees and electrical lines Sunday across the San Francisco Bay Area, where winds topped 60 mph (96 kph) in places.

— In Spain, people have been struggling to find drinking water as the country tries to cope with a record drought. Officials in the northeast region of Catalonia declared a drought emergency on Thursday, with reservoirs that serve 6 million people, including the population of Barcelona, at under 16% of their capacity, a historic low.

— Meanwhile, some scientists say that studying Caribbean sea sponges, which can live hundreds of years, is leading them to theorize that the world may have warmed more than generally thought since pre-Industrial times.

— Finally, does the prospect of increasingly powerful tropical storms mean we need a new category to describe their intensity? Some experts say we do and are proposing a Category 6 for hurricanes that exceed 192 miles per hour (309 kilometers per hour).


QUOTABLE: “We are entering a new climate reality. It is more than likely we will see more droughts that will be both more intense and more frequent.” —- regional president Pere Aragonès on announcing a drought emergency in Catalonia, Spain.


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