A deadly heat wave is currently crippling the North American continent. In the Canadian province of British Columbia alone, 486 people have died in the past five days. An increase of 195 percent over the average, according to local authorities. Older people are particularly affected. The authorities fear that the numbers will continue to rise.
Because the sun burns mercilessly. In Lytton, a village of 300 northeast of Vancouver, the temperature was measured on Tuesday at 49.5 degrees. Canadian record. Particularly problematic: people in the area are unfamiliar with these temperatures. In Lytton, the average daily maximum temperature in July is 24.3 degrees. This is why not all buildings are air-conditioned, unlike the southern United States, for example. Now many residents have no choice but to seek shelter in underground garages or air-conditioned cars. But not everyone has this option.
The village had to be evacuated
In Vancouver alone, there have been 65 sudden deaths attributed to severe weather. Lisa Lapointe, BC’s chief forensic scientist, said many heatwave victims lived in unconditioned apartments or homes. She adds that there have been only three deaths from heat in the past three to five years.
Even Lytton was evacuated on Wednesday. A fire broke out. “The whole city is burning. “It took less than 15 minutes between the first signs of smoke and fire appearing everywhere,” Jan Bolderman, mayor of Lytons, told CBS.
Dozens of dead in the United States
A resident of Castlegar, another small town in British Columbia, told the BBC she had not been out for four days. “I haven’t seen anything like this in 70 years. We darkened the windows, fans run 24 hours a day, sprayed water constantly, took cold feet, showered and drank tons of fluids.”
Meanwhile, the United States is also battling the heat. In Portland (Oregon) the week was 46.6 degrees, in Seattle (Washington) it was 42.2 degrees. Both records are for areas since the data was first collected in 1940.
At least 63 people in Oregon have died from heat-related health illnesses, the BBC reported. 16 people died in Washington state.
Forest fires and crops burnt
Exceptional weather brings more anxiety. Fruit growers on Vancouver Island complain about crop losses. One farmer said that blackberries literally “burn”. In addition, 80 percent of the berry crop was destroyed.
Heat is also noticeable in California. And in the north of the most populous US state, nearly a thousand firefighters battled a forest fire near Wade Village on Wednesday. More than a thousand people were asked to leave their homes in the danger zone. This year after Californians suffered the worst wildfires in their history, 30 people were killed and more than 10,000 buildings destroyed.
Global warming or a unique phenomenon?
According to meteorologists, the heat over western Canada and the United States was caused by a dome of hot, constant high pressure air that stretches from California to the Arctic regions. According to experts, the weather phenomenon that maintains such hot air in the region for a long time occurs only once every few thousand years. “Washington Post”. Different voices see it differently.
It is also clear to officials that climate change is to blame for the heat wave. “Climate change is here,” California Governor Gavin Newsom wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. Getting hotter and drier all the time. The Democrat had previously attended a virtual meeting with US President Joe Biden along with other governors. Measures to combat climate change and its consequences were discussed. Biden promised, among other things, higher wages and better equipment for firefighters. He warned that given the bushfires, this year could be worse than 2020.
Addressing climate skeptics, US President Joe Biden said in a paradoxical speech: “47 degrees in Portland? do not worry. Global warming exists only in your imagination.”
Meanwhile, British Columbia’s highest government official, John Horgan, offers more practical advice: “We’re in the hottest week British Columbia has ever known. Please look out for people who may need help.”