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Intensity of Pacific-Northwest heatwave is among the greatest ever measured globally

A heatwave has engulfed the Pacific Northwest of North America, with temperatures spiking 20 to 30 degrees Celsius above normal.

Study blames global warming for 37 percent of the world's heat-related deaths
Dangerous humid heat extremes occurring decades before expected. — File photo: U.S. Air Force / Staff Sgt. Josie Walck / Public Domain
Dangerous humid heat extremes occurring decades before expected. — File photo: U.S. Air Force / Staff Sgt. Josie Walck / Public Domain

A heatwave has engulfed the Pacific Northwest of North America, with temperatures spiking 20 to 30 degrees Celsius above normal, with even hotter conditions expected through Tuesday, driving concerns about impacts to human health, infrastructure, and ecosystems.

The Pacific Northwest, from Canada on down to Northern California is usually known for its cool coastlines and lush forests. For most households, there is little need for air conditioning.

However, an intense heatdome has settled over the region, and it appears to not be leaving anytime in the next day or so. And the extent of the extreme heat is mind-boggling.

Mike Hudema on Twitter

In a Twitter thread over the weekend, Ben Noll, a meteorologist with the New Zealand National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research, reported that Portland, Oregon would be hotter than 99.9 percent of the rest of the planet on Sunday. “The only places expected to be hotter: Africa’s Sahara Desert, Persian Gulf, California’s deserts,” he tweeted. 

In British Columbia, Canada, another 59 temperature records were broken Monday, with highs crawling into the 40s Celsius (104 degrees F.) In Agassiz, B.C., Monday’s temperature of 41.4 C (106.5 F), broke the 126-year-old record of 33.3 C (91.9 F).

The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington reached a record temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit on Sunday, with the intense heat buckling roads.

Meanwhile, in Washington and Oregon, East of the Cascades, after reaching 116 F today, the heat is expected to continue through the week.

It’s hot outside! Know the signs of heat-related illness to stay safe this summer. If you’re sweating, feeling nausea, or dizziness, move to a cool place, loosen your clothing, and sip water. Source – CDC

Excessive heat warnings covered western maps from British Columbia, Canada, to Montana in the east, and south to the U.S.-Mexico border. According to the National Weather Service, the heatwave shattered all-time temperature records on Saturday and Sunday with triple-digit temperatures.

The intensity of the heat wave, measured by how far temperatures are spiking above normal, is among the greatest ever measured globally. And as the temperature extremes become more frequent, climate scientists say that the more obvious the fingerprint of global warming will be on the heat wave.

The biggest concern is the impacts to human health from the extreme heat. “I shudder to think what the mortality rate will be from this event,” said Phil Mote, a climate scientist with the College of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University.

Written By

Karen Graham is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for environmental news. Karen's view of what is happening in our world is colored by her love of history and how the past influences events taking place today. Her belief in man's part in the care of the planet and our environment has led her to focus on the need for action in dealing with climate change. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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