Dozens of people have died in Canada amid an unprecedented heatwave that has smashed temperature records. Police in the Vancouver area have responded to more than 130 sudden deaths since Friday. Most were elderly or had underlying health conditions. They said the heat was a contributing factor in many cases.
Other local municipalities have said they too have responded to many sudden death calls, but have yet to release tolls. Climate change is causing record-setting temperatures to become more frequent. Before this week, temperatures in the country had never passed 45C. The heatwave is due to a dome of high pressure hovering over the north-western US and Canada. Experts say climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves. However, linking any single event to global warming is complicated. The decade to 2019 was the hottest recorded, and the five hottest years have all occurred within the last five years. The scorching heat stretching from the US state of Oregon to Canada’s Arctic territories has been blamed on a high-pressure ridge trapping warm air in the region.
Temperatures in the US Pacific Northwest cities of Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington reached levels not seen since record-keeping began in the 1940s: 115 degrees Fahrenheit in Portland and 108 in Seattle Monday, according to the National Weather Service. Vancouver on the Pacific coast has for several days recorded temperatures above 86 degrees Fahrenheit (or almost 20 degrees above seasonal norms). Inland along the Fraser River delta, due to high humidity, climatologists said it felt like 111 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday.