Hundreds Of Louisiana Wildfires Burn As Record Heat Brings ‘Flash Drought’ Warnings

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    Hundreds of wildfires continued to engulf Louisiana and Texas on Saturday as a record-breaking set of summer heat waves unleashed widespread drought conditions in the South, while residents on the Louisiana-Texas border were issued mandatory evacuation orders.


    • Residents in Beauregard Parish—on the Texas border—were ordered to evacuate on Thursday as the state’s biggest fire, the Tiger Island Fire, approached the parish.

    • The Tiger Island Fire has grown to 31,000 acres as of Saturday, and is 50% contained, according to Wildfire Aware, marking a setback in the firefighting efforts after it was reported at 65% contained on Friday.

    • More than 360 wildfires have been reported in Louisiana this month, which have killed at least one person in the town of Franklinton, north of New Orleans.

    • Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-La.) pleaded with residents this week to heed a state-wide burn ban implemented in response to the extreme heat, warning of “potentially tragic outcomes” from increased fire activity.

    Recent heat waves—which have repeatedly shattered daily heat records in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport, Louisiana—created a sudden onset of dry conditions that meteorologists call a “flash drought.”

    Nearly half of Louisiana is in either an “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, while nearly 98% of the state is considered at least “abnormally dry,” compared to 75% of the state at this time last year, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s U.S. Drought Monitor.

    Texas is also experiencing a severe drought, with nearly 34% of the state in an “extreme” or “exceptional” drought, and nearly 96% at least “abnormally dry,” compared to just over 5% of the state last August.


    Nearly the entirety of Louisiana and Mississippi have been placed in excessive heat watches or warnings, according to the National Weather Service. An excessive heat warning is also in effect in eastern Texas, most of Arkansas, and parts of Arizona, California, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee, while heat advisories are in effect throughout the South. Forecasters urge residents to stay out of the sun and take precautions if spending time outside, warning the excessive heat could bring “dangerously hot conditions” with a heat index—how hot it feels outside when taking humidity into account—upwards of 114.


    102 degrees. That was the temperature in New Orleans on Wednesday, when the city tied its all-time heat record. New Orleans has hit triple-digit temperatures a record 13 times this summer, and has broken single-day records more than 20 times.


    The wildfires in the South come as firefighters in California combat the state’s second-biggest wildfire of the year, which grew to more than 67,000 acres as of Saturday morning, and forced residents in both California and Oregon to evacuate. Canada, meanwhile, has suffered its worst wildfire year on record, with an area bigger than the size of Alabama scorched in a series of blazes. Nearly 20,000 residents in Yellowknife, in the Northwest Territories, were evacuated last week as a fire approached the city, while in British Columbia, officials declared a state of emergency as a fire approached the city of Kelowna.

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