At least 233 people suddenly died in Canada between Friday (25) and yesterday, including 134 in the Vancouver area. The deaths are related to a heat wave that hit the west of the country and raised the thermometer yesterday. According to officials the temperature reached 49.5ºC. The increase also affects the western United States.
Climate change causes record temperatures, which happen more frequently. The decade ending 2019 was the warmest in recorded history.
“We believe the heat has contributed to most of the deaths,” police said in a statement. He said most of the victims were elderly. “This moment can be fatal for the most vulnerable in our community, especially the elderly and patients with other health problems,” said Mike Kalanj, spokesman for the Burnaby RMPC, urging everyone to check on their families and neighbors.
British Columbia Prime Minister John Horgan also urged people to remain vigilant. “It’s the hottest week ever for residents of the region,” he told a news conference.
“The consequences are devastating for families and communities. The only way to get through this extraordinary time is to stick together, check the health of people we know are at risk and make sure we have cold compresses in the fridge.” ,” They said.
Vancouver, on the Pacific Coast, has recorded temperatures above 30 °C for several days, much higher than the current average of 21 °C. On Monday (28), Canada had a new record high for high temperatures, with 47.9 °C in Lytton, British Columbia, about 250 kilometers east of Vancouver.
“The duration of this wave is worrying because the temperature does not drop at night. This will increase the risk of heat-related diseases,” Canada’s environment ministry warned on its climate page. In addition to British Columbia, warnings have also been issued for the eastern provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as well as parts of the Yukon Territories and Northwest Territories in northern Canada.
Air conditioners and fans are in short supply in the area. Apart from canceling vaccination campaigns against COVID-19 and closing schools, cities opened air-conditioned rooms. A heat wave earlier this week also affected US cities south of Vancouver, such as Portland (Oregon) and Seattle (Washington), also known for their mild and humid climates, where their records began. The highest temperature since then was reached in 1940. .
As of Monday afternoon, 46.1 °C was recorded at Portland airport and 41.6 °C at Seattle airport, according to data from the United States Weather Service (NWS). The heat has sparked several wildfires on both sides of the US-Canada border, due to a phenomenon known as a “heat dome” in which high pressure traps warm air in the area.
“Heat waves are becoming more frequent and intense as concentrations of greenhouse gases increase global temperatures. They begin earlier and end later, rapidly affecting human health and health systems.”, The Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization warned on Tuesday.
*With information from AFP and ANSA