Climate: Winter storm and fire - extreme weather in the USA

Icy cold and meters of snow in California, heat and devastating forest fires in Texas: The USA is currently experiencing severe weather extremes.

Climate: Winter storm and fire - extreme weather in the USA

Icy cold and meters of snow in California, heat and devastating forest fires in Texas: The USA is currently experiencing severe weather extremes. California's Sierra Nevada was hit by a blizzard over the weekend - this is what violent snowstorms with sharp drops in temperature are called in the USA.

The weather service warned of "treacherous and life-threatening" conditions in mountainous communities through Sunday: "Travel should be limited to emergencies only." In some places, up to three meters of snow can be expected. The neighboring state of Nevada was also affected.

In the Palisades Tahoe winter sports area, where the 1960 Winter Olympics were held, wind gusts of up to 300 kilometers per hour were measured, according to media reports. Several ski resorts would have had to close, also because of the high risk of avalanches.

Around 10,000 households without electricity

In addition, Interstate 80, one of the country's most important highways, was closed over a total length of around 160 kilometers due to snow and icy conditions. The weather service and highway police warned of so-called whiteout conditions, in which drivers can lose orientation due to extremely limited visibility. Numerous vehicles got stuck on a pass road and the drivers had to be rescued in an hour-long operation, the police said.

Several schools remained closed on Friday. The storm also caused power outages. Around 10,000 households in the region are without electricity, the website Poweroutage.us said on Sunday. In view of the storm, Yosemite National Park, which is popular with tourists, also closed to visitors until further notice.

"Monsterfeuer" in Texas

In Texas, strong winds further fanned the forest fires that had been raging for days, as the media reported on Saturday evening (local time). The largest fire, the so-called Smokehouse Creek Fire, has already spread to more than 4,000 square kilometers and extends to the east into the neighboring state of Oklahoma. It is said that so far it is only 15 percent under control.

Texas Agriculture Secretary Sid Miller spoke of a "monster fire" and asked for donations of feed and hay for the livestock and prayers for the affected farmers. "It's devastating," he told CNN. The fires have so far claimed two people's lives, destroyed hundreds of houses, other buildings and cultivated areas and killed thousands of cattle. This means an enormous economic loss for farmers.

Experts attribute the increase in natural disasters in the USA - storms, floods and forest fires - to the consequences of climate change. President Joe Biden had already spoken of an “existential threat” in this context last year. “I don’t think anyone can deny the effects of climate change anymore,” he said at the time.

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