The “extreme and prolonged” heat wave raises concerns for the elderly, homeless and other particularly vulnerable people.
Authorities in the western United States and Canada are warning residents to take precautions as a historic heat wave hit the region on Saturday, raising temperatures and prompting local authorities to open cooling centers in the area. ’emergency.
All of the U.S. states of Washington and Oregon and parts of Idaho, Wyoming and California were subject to an excessive heat warning as temperatures were expected to rise dramatically over the weekend and next week, a declared the National Weather Service (NWS).
“This event will likely be one of the most extreme and prolonged heat waves in recorded history for the Northwest Interior,” the NWS said.
Across the region, dozens of daily record temperatures are expected to be set, with monthly and even all-time highs threatened with dropping, the service said.
Some of the affected areas are generally used to milder weather – and many residents lack air conditioning, which has raised concerns about the safety of the elderly, homeless and others particularly vulnerable to the extreme heat.
The hot weather made berry growers scramble to pluck the crops before they rot on the vines, and fisheries managers scrambled to protect endangered sockeye salmon from the river’s overly warm waters. .
Stores have sold their portable air conditioners and fans, some hospitals have canceled outdoor vaccination clinics, cities have opened cooling centers, baseball teams have canceled or moved weekend games and utilities prepared for possible power outages.
Officials in Multnomah County, Oregon, were asking for volunteers to help staff at cooling centers, while Portland General Electric said about 120 crews were working weekends to respond to any outages, although the utility said it had no plans for service disruptions.
In Seattle, Washington, local resident James Bryant purchased an air conditioner in anticipation of the extreme heat. Most of the houses in the city do not have air conditioning. “My house is already hot, and so with the extra heat over the next few days – I have kids who I need to make sure they don’t get too hot too,” said Bryant.
North of the border, the Canadian government has also Posted a heat warning for parts of the western provinces of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as the Yukon and Northwest Territories.
“I like to break a record, but it’s like breaking it and shattering it,” said David Phillips, Senior Climate Scientist, Environment Canada. Told local media CTV News. “It is warmer in parts of western Canada than in Dubai.
The heat wave comes after official data showed that at the start of the month, 88 percent from the western United States was in a state of drought made worse by climate change. The lakes have been at historically low levels and restrictions have been placed on water use throughout the region.
WA expects record heat over the next week. We are increasing the capacity of many cooling centers by removing restrictions on the number of people who can be inside these locations. It is a way to temporarily remedy the effects of the heat wave on health.https://t.co/R2L9sKpKPv
– Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) June 25, 2021
Experts told Al Jazeera that drought caused by climate change is drying up reservoirs and also contributing to the start of the wildfire season.
“The southwestern United States is in a period of prolonged drought, or mega-drought, such as we haven’t seen in observational data over the past few millennia,” says Jean Abatzoglou, associate professor at the University of California, researching climate and weather.
Kristie Ebi, a professor at the University of Washington who studies global warming and its effects on public health, said the extended “thermal dome” was a taste of the future for the Pacific Northwest as climate change is reshaping weather patterns around the world.
“We know from evidence around the world that climate change is increasing the frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves. We’re going to have to get used to this in the future, ”she told the Associated Press news agency.