Tuesday, September 21

Heat wave kills more than 70 in northwestern United States | Society


A woman delivers water in Portland on June 27 amid high temperatures.
A woman delivers water in Portland on June 27 amid high temperatures.Maranie Staab / Reuters

“A real health crisis.” This is how the recent heat wave that has hit the western United States harshly has been described by local authorities. The high temperatures have left at least 63 dead in the State of Oregon and another 13 in Washington. “I suspect that we will face this type of event again as our summer gets hotter,” said Dr. Jennifer Vines, of Multnomah County Health Services, where the city of Portland is located, and where 45 deaths were registered since Friday.

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The city of Portland, located in northern Oregon and with a population of 650,000 people, has experienced high temperatures since late last week. On Sunday the wind chill reached 44 degrees. A day later, this Monday, the thermometers marked 46 degrees, reaching a record according to the national meteorological service. The high temperatures began to subside this Wednesday, but the authorities fear that this has been a warning of what the summer will bring in a season of drought and fires in the area.

Most of the 45 victims died of hypothermia, a temporary rise in temperature due to the body’s inability to cope with external conditions. The Multnomah County Coroner’s Services explained that the majority of the deceased, between the ages of 44 and 97, perished alone in rooms that did not have air conditioning or fans. Authorities also released a statement that Oregon, a state of 4.2 million people, had only 12 deaths from hypothermia between 2017 and 2019.

In Washington State, on the border of the United States and Canada, mercury also reached previously seen marks. The city of Spokane, east of the state, had 42 degrees on Tuesday and 38 degrees on Wednesday. Seattle, by contrast, near the Pacific, suffered heat stroke earlier in the week. The authorities documented there 13 of those who died as a result of the high temperatures.

In the coming days similar news will begin to occur in the strip of states in the east of the country, such as Idaho and Montana, along with the displacement of the heat dome, a phenomenon of high atmospheric pressure that blocks the entry of other climates, a natural condition that has been aggravated by the climate change produced by humanity.

The heat wave has left many human losses in Canada, a country that is beginning to see heat waves as normal when they were once remote situations. “We have seen more and more of these types of extreme weather in recent years,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said. “Realistically, we know that this heat wave will not be the last.” Lytton, a town in British Columbia, broke the historical record for temperature ever recorded in Canada three times this week. The thermometer reached 49.6 degrees on Tuesday. The now distant second mark, 45 degrees, was taken in Saskatchewan in 1937.

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