The northwestern part of North America, among the most temperate zones in the world, broke all records on June 27 and 28, 2021 when it sizzled under an unprecedented heat wave, in yet another instance of the global climate crisis.
The Canadian province of British Columbia and the states of Oregon and Washington in the United States Pacific Northwest are experiencing once-in-a-millennium or even once-in-10,000 years temperatures, according to most media reports.
Record-keeping of temperatures in this region began in the 1800s. Most residents do not have air-conditioning.
The city of Lytton in British Columbia, some 250 kilometres north-east of Vancouver, recorded a temperature of 46.6 degrees Celsius in June 27, breaking an 84-year-old record, according to Canadian media.
A day later, it recorded 47.5°C, the hottest temperature that has ever been recorded in Canada. Lytton on June 28 was hotter than Abu Dhabi, according to weather experts.
Across the border, Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon also broke records. Seattle recorded 40°C June 27. It recorded 41.1°C June 28. For three days (June 26, 27 and 28), Portland recorded a temperature of 46.1°C.
According to meteorologists, the high temperatures are the result of a so-called ‘heat dome’. This, they say, is a ‘ridge of high pressure’. It ‘acts like a lid or oven on the atmosphere’. Hot air rises but the high pressure pushes it back to the surface where it heats up even more.
CNN quoted Michael E Mann, a climate scientist at Pennsylvania State University, as saying that climate change was causing heatwaves to become ‘more frequent and intense’.
The fossil fuels burnt by humans on earth cause the release of excess energy into the atmosphere. This energy then manifests itself as extreme weather events, CNN quoted Kristie Ebi, a climate and health researcher at the University of Washington, as saying.