Thursday, July 01, 2021
Temperatures up to 50 degrees
Hundreds die in Canada’s record heat
In the “hottest week” ever, the temperature records fall in Canada. A “heat dome” over North America ensures temperatures of almost 50 degrees Celsius. The extreme weather is a problem especially for the sick and elderly – hundreds have already died.
The ongoing heat wave in western Canada has contributed to hundreds of deaths, according to authorities. From Friday to Wednesday 486 sudden and unexpected deaths were reported in the province of British Columbia, said the forensic medicine of the West Coast province. This number is likely to increase. It is 195 percent above the usual average for a comparable period.
The authority assumes that the sharp rise is related to the extreme heat. The thermometer showed 49.6 degrees Celsius on Tuesday in Lytton (province of British Columbia), as the local weather authority announced on Twitter. That is an “all-time temperature record”. Air-conditioned centers have been set up in the affected region where people can find refuge from the heat. Forensic doctor Lisa Lapointe called for precautionary measures to be taken and people at risk to be helped.
The greater Vancouver area alone recorded 134 sudden deaths, police said. “We are in the middle of the hottest week British Columbia has ever seen,” said the head of government of the province on the west coast of the country, John Horgan, at a press conference. He called for people to be looked out for at risk of keeping cold compresses in the refrigerator and being in the coolest part of the house.
“Never experienced such heat”
For the third day in a row, Canada recorded the highest temperatures in the country since records began. “Vancouver has never seen heat like this and unfortunately dozens of people die from it,” said Police Chief Steve Addison. The national police agency RCMP put the death toll in the city of Vancouver at 65 people since Friday, including many elderly with previous illnesses.
“While this is still under investigation, the heat plays a role in the majority of deaths,” said a police agent. There were also numerous deaths in other communities, but initially no official figures were available. The Environment Ministry issued warnings for several provinces that the “ongoing, dangerous and historic heat wave will continue this week”. Schools and vaccination centers have had to close due to the heat in the Vancouver area. “Even Dubai is cooler than what we’re experiencing,” said David Phillips, the ministry’s chief climatologist.
The US cities of Portland, Oregon and Seattle in the northwest of the USA have also recorded the highest temperatures since records began there in 1940. Air conditioning and fans were sold out in many places. Some people looked for protection from the heat in underground garages or in their air-conditioned cars.
Only once every few thousand years
The phenomenon of the “heat dome” is responsible for the extreme heat, which means that the high pressure in the atmosphere holds the hot air in the region. According to weather experts at the Washington Post, the intensity of this heat dome is “statistically so rare that it can only be expected on average once every few thousand years”.
The man-made climate change, however, “made this type of extraordinary event more likely,” explained the experts. A draft report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that global warming of two degrees compared to the pre-industrial age would expose 420 million people to the risk of heat waves.
US President Joe Biden turned against climate skeptics with biting irony, facing a temperature of 46 degrees in Portland. “Don’t worry, there is no global warming,” he said. “That doesn’t exist. It’s the fruit of our imagination.”