Publication Date June 23, 2016

Climate scientists predict more blazing heat, drought, fires and scores of dead trees in the West

United States
A brush fire burns in Yarnell, Ariz., on June 8, 2016. Photo: Les Stukenberg / The Daily Courier via AP

The burning sensation in the southwestern United States was diagnosed by climate scientists more than a year ago.

As California broiled in high temperatures and drought last year, academic institutions across the country released study after study that suggested rising temperatures and less moisture were part of a new normal for the state...

None of the studies could explain exactly why the West is baking today. Temperatures reached 120 degrees Fahrenheit in parts of California this week. Since October, 26 million trees have died in six counties across 760,000 acres in the Sierra Nevada mountains that run along California’s spine.

That brings the number of dead trees to 66 million over four years of drought, the service said. A combination of heat, dryness and a greedy little beetle, according to the latest estimate by the U.S. Forest Service