What’s causing the unprecedented heat wave in Canada?
Hundreds of people are likely to have died as a result of record-breaking temperatures in Canada and the US Northwest, authorities say.
While more than 60 fatalities in the US state of Oregon have been linked to the heat, the Canadian province of British Columbia experienced a 195 per cent increase in sudden deaths.
Lisa Lapointe, British Columbias chief coroner, said there had been a minimum of 486 sudden and unexpected deaths over the five days to Wednesday.
This comes after Lytton, a village in the province, recorded the highest-ever temperature in Canada earlier this week, with the mercury reaching 49.6C. It was evacuated on Wednesday, after it became engulfed by a fast-moving wildfire.
The temperatures are particularly high due to a phenomenon known as a heat dome, which traps hot air and does not allow other weather systems to move in.
The risk of wildfires has risen in step with the soaring temperatures, with the governor of Oregon issuing a state of emergency and many parts of Canada under threat.
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau struck a sombre tone on Wednesday. Weve been seeing more and more of this type of extreme weather event in the past years.So realistically, we know that this heatwave wont be the last.
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Most heat-related deaths in British Columbia among elderly who lived alone
Many of those who have died in British Columbia (BC) from the heat were elderly people who lived alone in very warm homes with no ventilation, the provinces chief coroner has said.
From Friday to Wednesday, there were 321 excess deaths in BC, most of which were heat-related, according to Lisa Lapointe.
Speaking on Wednesday, Ms Lapointe, said: Many who died were seniors who lived alone.
She added that because of the high numbers of reported death, there had been delays in coroners response time. We have reallocated resources and are continuing to do everything within our power to minimize wait times, she said.
Rory Sullivan1 July 2021 09:50
California: A state on fire
With wildfires warnings in place across the north-west of the US and Canada, it is a fitting time to assess the scale of the challenge facing firefighters in North America.
The Independent travelled across California speaking to emergency responders as well as those whose lives have been turned upside down by wildfires.
Six of the states largest 20 fires occurred last year, and this trend is likely to continue.
Louise Boyle reports:
California is burning now more than ever before. Each year millions of acres of land are reduced to ashes, tens of thousands of buildings razed and countless lives put under threat. As the climate crisis fuels another destructive wildfire season, Louise Boyle meets the crews that are preparing to face disaster head-on
Rory Sullivan1 July 2021 09:30
Biden raises federal firefighters pay
In preparation for another season of intense wildfires, the Biden administration announced on Wednesday that it will employ more federal firefighters and will give them a pay rise.
They will receive a minimum of $15 per hour, the White House confirmed.
During an online meeting with the governors of Western states, the president said the country was playing catch-up in its ability to respond to heatwaves and wildfires.
Thats going to change and we have to do it. We cant cut corners when it comes to managing our wildfires or supporting our firefighters. Right now we have to act and act fast, Mr Biden said.
With fire seasons turning into fire years, it is imperative to have a year-round workforce that is available to respond at any time, the White House added.
Rory Sullivan1 July 2021 09:09
Canadian town evacuated due to wildfires
A town in British Columbia where temperatures reached 49.6C earlier this week has been evacuated after become engulfed by a fast-moving wildfire.
Jan Polderman, the mayor of Lytton, told CBC News: Its dire. The whole town is on fire.
It took, like, a whole 15 minutes from the first sign of smoke to, all of a sudden, there being fire everywhere.
Meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe told the news outlet that she had never known wildfire conditions to be this extreme.
Were going to see conditions like this for the rest of the week, unfortunately, she added.
My colleague Stuti Mishra reports:
The whole town is on fire, says the mayor as Canadian village is evacuated due to wildfires
Rory Sullivan1 July 2021 08:47
At least 45 people have died in Oregons Multnomah County from heat
At least 45 people have died since Friday due to excessive heat in Oregons Multnomah County, officials have said.
The area includes the city of Portland, which has seen soaring temperatures, which US president Joe Biden described as a wake-up call to the rest of the public about climate change.
Hyperthermia was the main cause of these deaths, the countys medical examiner said on Wednesday. To put the numbers into perspective, Oregon only had 12 deaths from hyperthermia – or overheating – between 2017 and 2019.
Rory Sullivan1 July 2021 08:26
Large contrast between temperatures in North and South America, expert says
While parts of Canada have seen their highest temperatures on record, some places in South America have seen their lowest for this time of year.
For example, Fort Smith has seen highs of 39.6C, the hottest ever in the Northwest Territories, while Pozo Hondo in Paraguay recorded its lowest ever temperature in June at -7.4C.
Meteorologist Scott Duncan has the details:
Rory Sullivan1 July 2021 08:11
Hundreds may have been killed by heatwave, say authorities
A heatwave in Canada and the north-west US could have killed hundreds, according to the authorities.
British Columbia has been particularly badly hit by the soaring temperatures, with its chief coroner, Lisa Lapointe, announcing that there had been 486 sudden and unexpected deaths over a five-day period.
While it is too early to say with certainty how many of these deaths are heat related, it is believed likely that the significant increase in deaths reported is attributable to the extreme weather, she said.
Hundreds of deaths in in Canada, Oregon and Washington may have been caused by the historic heat wave that baked the Pacific Northwest and shattered all-time temperature records in usually temperate cities
Rory Sullivan1 July 2021 07:55
Good morning and welcome to The Independents live coverage of the heatwave and wildfires in Canada and the US Northwest.
Rory Sullivan1 July 2021 07:51
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What’s causing the unprecedented heat wave in Canada?