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Computer model projection of forecast high temperatures for Wednesday. (WeatherBell)

Heat warnings and advisories are in effect for at least two dozen states through the end of the week. 25 million people are projected to see highs reach or eclipse 100 degrees Fahrenheit this week, as yet another powerful heat dome-dominated weather pattern affects a huge swath of the country.

Why it matters: The heat wave will combine with drought conditions in the Pacific Northwest to aggravate an already dire wildfire situation and bring more miserable weather to residents of Portland, Oregon, and other states hit hard by record-shattering heat in late June and early July.

  • This time around, heat and high humidity will combine to make for dangerously hot conditions in the Mid-Atlantic and Central states, too.
  • The hot and dry weather will only worsen the ongoing wildfires and potentially lead to new ignitions from thunderstorms. California's Dixie Fire, the second-largest blaze in state history and the largest ongoing wildfire in the U.S., grew further overnight toward the 500,000-acre mark, threatening more homes.

By the numbers: A strong area of high pressure across the Pacific Northwest, also known as a "heat dome," will ratchet up the heat from Northern California to Washington state from Wednesday through Saturday in particular.

  • High temperatures of up to 112 degrees are possible in inland valleys in western Oregon, the National Weather Service predicts, with little overnight relief in many areas.
  • High temperatures will generally be from 10 to 15 degrees above average for this time of year.

Threat level: When it comes to fire weather, the Weather Service forecast office in Medford, Oregon, is warning of "excessively hot, very unstable and dry air" across southern Oregon and Northern California — where the Bootleg Fire is still burning, in addition to the Dixie and other blazes.

  • Fire weather warnings for potentially extreme wildfire behavior, including the formation of pyrocumulus clouds, go into effect Wednesday.
  • Portland, Oregon, which set an all-time high temperature record of 116 degrees back in July, is predicted to reach a sizzling 104 degrees Thursday.
  • Meanwhile, in the Eastern U.S., highs in the mid-to-upper 90s will affect the urban corridor between Washington and Boston, with scorching heat even reaching parts of New Hampshire and Maine.

Context: The heat wave comes just a day after a landmark climate science report was released by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which definitively linked the increasing frequency and severity of heat waves to human emissions of greenhouse gases.

  • The report described this connection as "established fact," a striking increase in confidence level since its last major assessment, which is the equivalent of a CT scan for the planet, in 2013.
  • At the same time as the U.S. is feeling the heat and seeing more than 105 large wildfires burn across the country, a brutal heat wave in the Mediterranean region is continuing to fuel deadly blazes in Greece and Turkey.

Go deeper

Oct 12, 2021 - Science

Weather and climate disasters have cost the U.S. over $100 billion in 2021

Piles of debris is all that's left of a restaurant after heavy rain from remnants of Hurricane Ida came through in Manville, New Jersey, on Sept. 7. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Weather and climate disasters in 2021 have killed 538 people in the U.S. and cost over $100 billion, according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Why it matters: The first nine months of 2021 saw the largest number of billion-dollar disasters in a calendar year so far, with 2021 on pace for second behind 2020, per the report.

The new cold war panic

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The world has seen a power struggle between nuclear powers before, and has seen those countries inch closer to military conflict. But it's never before seen a cold war between two countries as interconnected — with each other and with the rest of the globe — as the U.S. and China.

Why it matters: Escalating antagonism between the world's two superpowers is likely to hinder global cooperation to fight climate change, divert resources to costly arms and tech races, complicate diplomacy for U.S. allies, and victimize Chinese and American citizens living in each other's countries.

Parkland shooting victims' families settle suit with school district

A makeshift memorial outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2020. Photo: Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Families and survivors of a 2018 mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., reached a $25 million settlement in their lawsuit against the Broward County school district Monday, per the South Florida SunSentinel.

Why it matters: The deal was reached in the suit over the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High after the school district won a Florida Supreme Court ruling that could have capped damages at $300,000 in total without approval from the state legislature, AP notes.