More record-smashing heat forecast as Canada, US northwest bake

As a heatwave sweeps across the United States, a man cools down in the Salmon Street fountain in Portland, Oregon, on June 28, 2021.Monday was a day of rest for schools and COVID-19 vaccine centers. Community cooling centers were open as the heat wave raged across western Canada and parts west of the United States.Lytton, British Columbia, broke the Canadian record for Monday's highest temperature with a temperature at 118°F (47.9° Celsius), one day after it set the previous record of 116°.According to the National Weather Service, the temperatures in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, in the US Pacific Northwest reached levels never seen since 1940s record-keeping: 115°F in Portland, and 108°F in Seattle.David Phillips, a Senior Climateologist at Environment Canada, stated to AFP that it was a desert heat.He said, "We are both the coldest and snowiest countries in the world." "We see blizzards and cold snaps all the time, but we rarely talk about hot weather like these.""Dubai would be cooler that what we are seeing now."Extreme heat and intense drought created perfect conditions for multiple fires to burst out over the weekend. One fire at the California-Oregon border had already ravaged 600 hectares (1.500 acres) by Monday morning.Record-breaking temperatures are becoming more common due to climate change. The decade from 2019 was the hottest ever recorded globally, while the five hottest years all occurred in the past five years."Normally, it's like 60-70 degrees. Everyone is out in shorts and T shirts. But this is... absurd," a Seattle resident told AFP Sunday when the temperature reached 104 F. "I feel as if I'm somewhere in the desert."Portland, Oregon's largest city, reached 44.4 Celsius (112 Degrees Fahrenheit).Amazon opened a portion of its Seattle headquarters Monday to the public for cooling off. There is space available for 1,000 people.Many homes in the city, which is well-known for its humid and cool climate, do not have air conditioning.Portland residents also found refuge in cooling centres set up by local authorities. They were able to rest on folding chairs and mattresses.Organizers in Eugene had to move the afternoon events to the evening after they were delayed the last day of the US Olympic track & field trials."Prolonged, dangerous, and historic"Canadian stores sold out of portable fans and air conditioners, and cities opened emergency cooling centres and outreach workers distributed water bottles and hats to residents as more than 160 heat records were set.Numerous COVID-19-vaccination clinics were cancelled and schools declared that they would be closing due to extreme heat.Officials set up temporary water fountains on the streets of Vancouver. Meanwhile, forest and fisheries services warned about extreme wildfire risk and low river and lake water levels affecting fish.The beaches and pools were crowded, while emergency services were overwhelmed by calls and warned about delays in ambulances.As mecury rises in the Pacific Northwest, cities have set up emergency cooling centers.AFP interviewed several people who reported that they slept in their cars with air conditioning or underground parking garages while on vacation.Others shared their instructions for how to make your own chillers by attaching a fan to a box with bags of ice.Environment Canada has issued warnings to British Columbia, Alberta and some parts of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Yukon, stating that the "prolonged and dangerous heat wave" will continue for the next week.Similar warnings were issued by the NWS, which warned that Monday's "dangerous", "oppressive" or "unprecedented heat" would continue to be a threat in the region up until midweek.Residents are advised to remain in air-conditioned buildings and avoid outdoor strenuous activities. They should also check on their family members and neighbors.High-pressure ridges trapping warm air in the region are responsible for the scorching heat.Phillips said that this heat dome presents "serious health concerns" due to the fact that nearly 70 people died in 2018's last major heatwave.It's more than a one-day wonder. It's a seven day kind of thing," he stated. Temperatures are expected to reach 47° Celsius (117 Fahrenheit), or higher.Nick Bond, an atmospheric scientist from the University of Washington, stated that the freak weather was not caused entirely by climate change but was rather exacerbated.He said, "Climate Change is a Factor here, but definitely Secondary One."2021 AFP