(Reuters) – Already rain-soaked New England braced for more downpours that have killed four people from flooding, and the National Weather Service warned of extreme heat for nearly a quarter of the US population.
The NWS said parts of New England and the mid-Atlantic areas will be hit by storms that “can bring heavy rainfall” before a cold front approaches from the west. Areas at risk include major cities like New York, Boston, and Philadelphia.
“Given that some parts of the Northeast have saturated and vulnerable soils from the recent heavy rains over the past ten days, this is a situation prepared to produce flash flooding that could be significant in affected areas,” the NWS said in a forecast on Sunday morning.
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Sunday urged her state residents to avoid traveling until the rains have passed, saying that “your car can go from a place of safety to the place of death” if it does being hit by a flash flood.
The NWS said there could be impassable roads, tornadoes and even mudslides in some higher-elevation areas of the Northeast.
At least four people were swept away and killed by a flash flood Saturday in Upper Makefield Township, Pennsylvania, about 20 miles northeast of Philadelphia, local police said in a written statement. Rescuers said Sunday they were looking for three other people, including a nine-month-old boy, his two-year-old sister and an adult woman.
The Northeast has been swept by flooding in recent days, with Vermont in particular reporting catastrophic flooding in its capital Montpelier, which is again on a flash flood warning on Sunday.
Outside the Northeast, the NWS is forecasting heavy rains for some sections of the central plains and middle Mississippi Valley, as well as east Texas, some parts of Arkansas and Louisiana, and parts of the Gulf Coast.
Heat warnings for a quarter of Americans
The heat warnings spread from the Pacific Northwest through California and the Southwest to the Deep South and Florida.
Temperatures in excess of 46 degrees Celsius are forecast for areas in the high desert of southern California, as well as for Arizona and Nevada. The NWS said widespread record-breaking high temperatures are likely to be seen in the Southwest, western Gulf Coast and also in South Florida.
Temperatures of between 100 F and 110 F are forecast for parts of the Pacific Northwest. According to the US Census Bureau, this could be especially dangerous for an area unaccustomed to excessive heat, as many homes lack central air conditioning.
The extreme heat in the US, which over 80 million people are being warned about, is being caused by a mass of high-pressure air sitting like a dome over affected areas, preventing any rainstorms from moving in to bring cooler weather, the authorities said NWS .
A relief from the heat is hardly in sight.
“The combination of sizzling temperatures and oppressively high dew points will make for sweltering heat year-round
south into the coming week,” wrote the NWS.
Scientists say fossil fuel-driven climate change heralds more extreme weather events like those seen in the US in recent days and warn the world must drastically cut carbon emissions to prevent their catastrophic effects.
Brutally hot temperatures also prevailed in several European countries.
(Reporting by Brad Brooks in Lubbock, Texas; Editing by Josie Kao)