Many parts of the United States and Canada have been affected by a heatwave. In Canada’s British Columbia, one village witnessed soaring temperatures of up to 116° Fahrenheit (47° Celsius). The incident marks the highest-ever temperature recorded in the country. In Seattle, locals took a cooling dip to beat the summer heat as temperatures rose over 104° Fahrenheit.
These extreme weather events are turning out to be anything but coincidental, as the past ten years have been the warmest decade ever. In fact, the five warmest days were all observed in the last five years.
Over 134 people passed away suddenly since the heatwave struck the Vancouver area, according to stats released by the city police department and the Royal Canadian Mounted police. The police department alone stated that they saw a spike of more than 65 sudden deaths, a majority “related to the heat.”
The deaths came as the country set a new high-temperature record for the third day in a row. Temperatures reached 121 degrees Fahrenheit in Lytton, British Columbia, about 155 miles east of Vancouver, the country’s weather service announced.
“Vancouver has never experienced heat like this, and sadly dozens of people are dying because of it,” a police sergeant said. Other municipalities in the area have also said they, too, have responded to many sudden death calls. The tolls are yet to be released.
Climate change is real
Unfortunately, climate change has started causing record-setting temperatures to become the norm. Globally, 2019 was the hottest recorded year, and the five hottest years have all occurred within the last five years.
The scorching heat that extends from the US state of Oregon to Canada’s Arctic territories is caused due to a high-pressure ridge trapping warm air in the region. Temperatures in the American Pacific Northwest cities of Portland, Seattle, Oregon, and Washington have reached levels not seen since record-keeping began around the 1940s.
Vancouver has, for several days, recorded temperatures over 86 degrees Fahrenheit, which is 20 degrees above seasonal norms. Along the Fraser River delta, due to excessive humidity, climatologists said it felt like 111 degrees Fahrenheit.
The chief coroner of British Columbia stated they “experienced a significant increase in deaths reported where it is suspected that extreme heat has been contributory.” They recorded 233 deaths over the week, compared to 130 on average.
The hottest week yet
“We are in the midst of the hottest week British Columbians have ever experienced, and there are consequences to that, disastrous consequences for families and for communities. How we get through this extraordinary time is by hanging together. Checking up on those people we know might be at risk, making sure we have cold compresses in the fridge, or we’re staying in the coolest part of our homes, and making sure that we’re taking steps to get through this heatwave,” said British Columbia Premier John Horgan.