Kay has weakened from its earlier tropical storm strength that struck the US, following its landfall in Mexico as a Category 1 hurricane Thursday, according to CNN Meteorologist Derek Van Dam.
The remnants of the storm — which began pulling away from Southern California Saturday — could still cause thunderstorms and some flooding in the region Sunday as the system veers off the Pacific Coast. Heavy downpours were especially possible across the inland valleys and mountains Sunday.
The downgraded storm system still measured sustained winds of 40 mph, worrying officials dealing with the Fairview Fire in Southern California’s Riverside County. But the moisture from the storm ended up aiding in the firefight.
Crews battling the Fairview Fire
managed to shore up containment of the 28,307-acre blaze to 43% — thanks to ample moisture, some rainfall and cooler temperatures. The raging blaze, which broke out Monday, has killed two civilians and injured a third, forced thousands to evacuate and destroyed 30 buildings.
“With the recent onset of rain, the drought-stricken area has not only received much-needed precipitation, but has also aided firefighters by slowing the spread of the Fairview Fire,” Cal Fire said
On Saturday, three people were injured when a helicopter assigned to the Fairview Fire crashed in a residential backyard while attempting to land at a local airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
A pilot and two fire personnel who were aboard the helicopter were taken to an area trauma center for further evaluation, Cal Fire said.
To the north, the cooler temperatures were also welcome relief for crews battling the Mosquito Fire
, which had consumed 37,326 acres as of Saturday night as it burned in both El Dorado and Placer counties. However, heavy winds have continued the fire’s spread to the north and northeast, fire officials said
Meanwhile, wildfires were also swallowing large areas of dry vegetation in neighboring Oregon and Idaho, where firefighters were contending with hotter, dryer conditions.
The Cedar Creek Fire
In Oregon has so far burned 74,420 acres and is only 12% contained, amid persisting extreme fire weather conditions Saturday. The blaze was expected to grow overnight as the region sees warm, dry conditions and strong east winds, according to fire authorities.
Hot, dry and unstable conditions could also increase fire behavior for Idaho’s Moose Fire
, which has currently burned 125,993 acres and is 37% contained, fire officials said.
Summer temperatures make the record books
As the West has been experiencing record-breaking heat, the nation as a whole is dealing with an especially hot summer.
The average temperature in August across the US was 74.6 degrees — 2.5 degrees above average — making it the eighth-warmest August on record. The month was also marked by several extreme rainfall events that resulted in historic flooding, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Overall, it was also the third-hottest meteorological summer on record for the US, according to NOAA.
California, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington each ranked warmest on record for August nighttime temperatures.
Meanwhile, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Texas all saw their second-warmest summer on record.
September has proved no different.
Temperature records were broken across the West over the past week, including in Sacramento
, which saw an all-time high of 116 degrees on Tuesday.
“This will be essentially the worst September heat wave on record, certainly in Northern California and arguably for the state overall,” UCLA climate scientist Daniel Swain said
Tuesday in a Twitter Spaces discussion. “By some metrics, it might be one of the worst heat waves on record, period, in any month, given its duration and its extreme magnitude.”
The climate crisis is increasing how large heat domes can get, and has increased the frequency, the intensity and duration of heat waves, he said.
CNN’s Tina Burnside contributed to this report.