The “extreme and prolonged” heat wave raises concerns for the elderly, homeless and other especially vulnerable people.
Authorities in the western U.S. and Canada are warning residents to take precautions as a historic heat wave hit the region on Saturday, sending temperatures rising and pushing local officials to open emergency cooling centers. .
All U.S. states in Washington and Oregon and parts of Idaho, Wyoming and California received an excessive heat warning, as temperatures would rise dramatically over the weekend and until next week, the Meteorological Service said. National (NWS).
“This event will likely be one of the most extreme and prolonged heat waves in history recorded in the Northwest Interior,” the NWS said.
Dozens of record daily temperatures are expected to be set across the region, with monthly and even historical records at risk of falling, according to the service.
Some of the affected areas are usually accustomed to milder weather and many residents do not have air conditioning, which has raised concerns about the safety of the elderly, homeless and others who are particularly vulnerable to extreme heat.
The hot weather caused forest farmers to rush to harvest crops before they rotted in the vineyard and fishery managers worked to keep sockeye salmon threatened out of danger from too much river water. hot.
Shops ran out of air conditioners and portable fans, some hospitals canceled outdoor vaccination clinics, cities opened cooling centers, baseball teams canceled or changed weekend games and utilities prepared for possible blackouts.
Officials in Multnomah County, Oregon, called for volunteers to help staff cooling centers, while Portland General Electric announced there were about 120 crews working over the weekend to respond to any disruptions, though the company he said he did not anticipate service interruptions.
In Seattle, Washington, local resident James Bryant took to air conditioning in anticipation of extreme heat. Most houses in the city do not have air conditioning. “My house is already hot and therefore with the heat added over the next few days – I have kids, I have to make sure they don’t get too hot,” Bryant said.
North of the border, the Canadian government as well issued a heat warning for parts of the western provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as the Yukon and the Northwest Territories.
“I like to break a record, but that’s like smashing and pulverizing them,” said David Phillips, senior climatologist at Environment Canada. he said local news CTV News. “It’s hotter in some parts of western Canada than in Dubai.”
The heat wave comes after official data shows that earlier this month, 88% of the western US it was in a state of drought exacerbated by climate change. The lakes have historically been at low levels and restrictions on water use have been imposed throughout the region.
WA expects record heat over the next week. We increase the capacity of many cooling centers by removing restrictions on the number of people who may be within these locations. This is a way to temporarily address the effects of the heat wave on health.https://t.co/R2L9sKpKPv
– Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) June 25, 2021
Experts told Al Jazeera that the drought fueled by climate change dries out reservoirs and also contributes to a first season of fires.
“The southwestern United States is in a period of prolonged drought, or megadrought, of those we haven’t seen on the observation record in recent millennia,” said John Abatzoglou, associate professor at the University of California who researches climate and weather.
Kristie Ebi, a professor at the University of Washington who studies global warming and its effects on public health, said the expanded “heat dome” was a taste of the future for the Pacific Northwest. Climate change reshapes weather patterns around the world.
“We know from tests around the world that climate change increases the frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves. We will have to get used to this in the future, ”he told the Associated Press.