CALIFORNIA (Dispatches) – July was the hottest month globally ever recorded, a U.S. scientific agency said Friday, in the latest data to sound the alarm about the climate crisis.
“July is typically the world’s warmest month of the year, but July 2021 outdid itself as the hottest July and month ever recorded,” said Rick Spinrad, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe,” Spinrad said in a statement citing data from the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI).
NOAA said combined land and ocean-surface temperature was 1.67 degrees Fahrenheit (0.93 degrees Celsius) above the 20th-century average of 60.4 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the hottest July since record-keeping began 142 years ago.
The month was 0.02 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the previous record set in July 2016, which was equaled in 2019 and 2020.
U.S. Forest Service in Crisis Mode
The U.S. Forest Service said Friday it was operating in crisis mode, fully deploying firefighters and maxing out its support system as wildfires continue to break out across the U.S. West, threatening thousands of homes and entire towns.
The roughly 21,000 federal firefighters working on the ground is more than double the number of firefighters sent to contain forest fires at this time a year ago, and the agency is facing “critical resources limitations,” said Anthony Scardina, a deputy forester for the agency’s Pacific Southwest region.
An estimated 6,170 firefighters alone are battling the Dixie Fire in Northern California, the largest of 100 large fires burning in 14 states, with dozens more burning in western Canada.
The fire began a month ago and has destroyed more than 1,000 homes, businesses and other structures, much of it in the small town of Greenville in the northern Sierra Nevada.
The fire had ravaged more than 800 square miles (well over 2,000 square kilometers) — an area larger than the city of London — and continued to threaten more than a dozen rural and forest communities.
Containment lines for the fire held overnight, but it was just 31% surrounded. Gusty and erratic winds were threatening to spread the fire to Westwood, a lumber town of 1,700. Lightning could spark new blazes even as crews try to surround a number of other forest fires ignited by lightning last month.
“Mother nature just kind of keeps throwing us obstacles our way,” said Edwin Zuniga, a spokesman with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, working together with the Forest Service to tamp out the blaze.
Meanwhile, firefighters and residents were scrambling to save hundreds of homes as flames advance across the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation in southeastern Montana.