- BBC News World
Canada recorded the highest temperature in its history at a time when the western part of the country and the northwestern United States are undergoing an unprecedented heat wave.
In Lytton, British Columbia, thermometers reached 46.6 ° C on Sunday, breaking a pre-existing record from 84 years ago, authorities said.
A “heat dome” (high static pressure that acts like a pot lid) has also set records never before seen in many other areas of the country.
United States and Canada have warned their citizens about “dangerous” heat levels that could persist this week.
Experts say that climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events, such as heat waves. However, it is difficult to link a single event with global warming.
BBC forecaster Nick Miller explains that “heat dome” is not a strictly defined meteorological term, but has been associated with the description of large areas of high pressure, leading to clear skies and hot, sunny days.
The longer this high pressure pattern lasts, the longer the heat wave will last, and the temperatures can rise day by day.
This high pressure zone is huge: ranges from California to the Arctic territories of Canada and extends inland through Idaho.
Sales of air conditioners and fans have exploded and cooling shelters have sprung up. Some bars and restaurants, and even a swimming pool, were deemed too hot to function.
Lytton, which is located about 250 km northeast of Vancouver, beat the previous Canadian record that had been recorded in two cities in the Saskatchewan province, Yellow Grass and Midale, which in July 1937 reached a temperature of 45 ° C.
In addition to Lytton, there are more than 40 other places in British Columbia where new heat records were set.
David Phillips, senior climatologist for Environment Canada, told CTV: “I like to break a record, but this is like breaking and pulverizing them. It is hotter in parts of western Canada than in Dubai.” .
The expert said that there was a possibility of exceeding 47 ° C somewhere and that this Monday was the day most likely to happen.
British Columbia power providers said there was an increase in demand for electricity to keep air conditioners running.
Environment Canada said the province of Alberta and parts of Saskatchewan, Yukon and the Northwest Territories should also be on alert.
In your warning, predicted a “prolonged, dangerous and historic heat wave that will persist through this week, “with temperatures 10 ° C to 15 ° C above normal, close to 40 ° C in many places.
“Historic” heat in the northwestern United States
The northwestern United States has also broken records, particularly in parts of Washington and Oregon.
That country’s National Weather Service called the heat wave conditions “historic” and said they would persist through the week, “with numerous daily, monthly and even historical records likely to be set.”
Seattle and Portland, cities with climates famous for their rains, recorded the highest temperatures in their history on Sunday.
Portland broke its previous record when temperatures reached 44 ° C and Seattle did the same when the mercury reached 40 ° C, according to the US National Weather Service.
Oregon relaxed assistance restrictions imposed in the face of the covid-19 pandemic to open swimming pools and air-conditioned areas such as shopping centers. But Seattle had to close a swimming pool due to “dangerous temperatures and unsafe on the pool deck. “
Fruit growers have been rushing to pick crops, fearing that the heat could wilt cherries and other fruits. The gatherers start at dawn and stop for lunch when the temperatures become unbearable.
BJ Thurlby, president of Northwest Cherry Growers, told the Seattle Times: “We are traveling in absolutely unknown waters.”
On Sunday, the United States Olympic track and field qualifying events had to stop in Eugene, Oregon, due to the heat and the crowd was asked to leave the stadium for safety reasons.
Some vaccination centers in covid also closed for the same reason.
In some areas along the coast, temperatures may drop a bit in the next few days, but Boise, Idaho, could see a week with temperatures above 40 ° C. The National Weather Service said parts of the state could experience “one of the most extreme and prolonged heat waves in recorded history of the Inland Northwest [una región que abarca el oriente del estado de Washington y el norte de Idaho]”.
All citizens were advised to stay hydrated, avoid strenuous activities and keep an eye on vulnerable neighbors.
Roger Harrabin, Environmental Issues Analyst
We can’t say for sure that this brutal heat storm was caused by emissions from industrial society, but scientists say that every heat wave that occurs today is more likely and more intense due to human-induced climate change.
In fact, scientists have improved a lot by linking extreme events to climate change, such as the heat wave that hit Europe in 2019, which researchers say was made 100 times more likely due to CO2.
What is more worrying is that these temperatures have been reached with global temperatures only 1.1 ° C above pre-industrial times.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change considers that it is likely that we will exceed 1.5 ° C above that level in a short time. And at current rates we will overcome a 2 ° C rise, and possibly even higher.
However, China and India continue to build new coal-fired power plants. And the G7 (Canada, France, Germany, Japan, UK and US) does not offer a date to remove them.
The UK and others are still drilling wells for more oil and gas to burn, saying they will be needed until 2050.
It certainly looks like a climate emergency.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.