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The biggest climate hazards in the US today

The climate crisis is going to create all kinds of disasters in the coming decades as greenhouse gases, mainly from burning fossil fuels, heat up the planet and send the atmosphere into chaos.

The consequences of that crisis are already plaguing millions of people in the US, as wildfires, hurricanes, drought and heatwaves sweep through the country.

Now, the federal government is tracking the full extent of extreme weather in the country on a daily basis — emphasising just how exposed the country is to climate disaster.

Hurricane Fiona brought widespread destruction to Puerto Rico, with intense winds and massive amounts of rain. The entire island lost power during the storm and while some areas have once again gotten electricity up and running, much of the island remains without power or running water.

Some corners of the island have seen 25 inches (64 centimetres) of rain, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm later hit the Dominican Republic and is now barreling through Turks and Caicos after being upgraded to a Category 3 hurricane. It is forecast to become a Category 4 storm as it moves even further north.

On Tuesday, there were 312 active wildfires burning across the US, mainly in the West. That includes 94 large fires that have burned through nearly 900,000 acres alone — larger than Yosemite National Park.

In Oregon, the Cedar Creek Fire has burned through 113,637 acres and remains just 11 per contained, though growth has slowed in recent days.

In northern California, the Mosquito Fire has burned through 76,290 acres, with mandatory evacuation orders still in place for some communities, though growth has also slowed as wetter weather moves through the area.

More than 11 million Americans are under flood alerts. Flood watches remain in effect for Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the hurricane, and flood alerts have also been issued for parts of northern California, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico as storms hit the western US. Parts of Colorado could experience up to four in (10 cm) of rain in the next few days.

In addition, some rivers may flood in parts of South Dakota, Texas and Florida as they reach high water levels.

Finally, drought continues to plague much of the country, especially in the West. More than 113 million Americans are currently living in drought conditions.

This includes parts of California, Utah, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Oregon under “exceptional drought,” the most extreme drought level, creating serious challenges for farmers and a very high risk of wildfires.

Parts of the northeast US are also facing dry weather, with some areas along the New England coast seeing “extreme drought”.

A UN climate science panel has warned that hazards like drought, heatwaves, floods, wildfires and intense storms are all likely to become more intense in the coming decades as the planet heats up.

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