Canada recorded the highest temperature in its history, coinciding with an unprecedented heat wave that hit the northwestern regions of the United States.
Officials said the temperature in Leighton, British Columbia, rose to 46.6 degrees Celsius on Sunday, breaking a record set 84 years ago.
Both the United States and Canada warned citizens of “dangerous” heat levels that could continue this week.
Experts say that climate change is expected to increase the frequency of unprecedented weather conditions, such as heat waves.
The demand for air conditioners and fans has increased dramatically, and cooling shelters have suddenly appeared that people resort to to escape the heat. Some bars and restaurants – and at least one of the pools – were rendered inoperable due to the heat.
The temperature in Lytton, located about 150 miles northeast of Vancouver, rose to surpass the previous Canadian record.
That record was set in two towns in the province of “Saskatchewan” in July 1937, when the temperature reached 45 degrees Celsius.
And Lytton was not alone in this. Another 40 areas in British Columbia set new temperature records.
“Temperatures in parts of western Canada are higher than in Dubai,” David Phillips, chief climate scientist at Environment Canada, told CTV.
He said that there is a possibility that the temperature will rise to 47 degrees Celsius.
Electricity supply networks in British Columbia said they had recorded an increase in demand for electricity to keep air conditioners running.
Environment Canada said Alberta, parts of Saskatchewan, Yukon and the Northwest regions should be on alert.
The department predicted that “a long, dangerous and historic heat wave will continue this week”, as temperatures are expected to be 10-15 degrees Celsius higher than their normal rate, and reach about 40 degrees Celsius in many areas.
“Historic” heat wave
The Pacific Northwest has seen record-breaking temperatures, particularly in parts of Washington and Oregon.
The US National Weather Service described the current heat wave as “historic”.
She said that these conditions will continue during the week, “with the expectation that record temperatures will be recorded.”
Seattle and Portland may be among those areas with the hottest temperatures on Monday. Both of them exceeded their temperature forty degrees Celsius.
Oregon has eased restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 in order to open swimming pools and air-conditioned areas such as shopping malls to the public. But the city of Seattle, in Washington state, had to close one of the pools due to “unsafe and dangerous temperatures around the pool.”
Fruit farmers quickly harvested their crops, fearing that the heat would cause cherries and other fruits to wither. Shift pickers start their work from the early hours of the morning and stop for their lunch break when the temperatures are unbearable.
“We are sailing in completely uncharted waters,” PJ Thurlby, president of the Northwest Cherry Growers Association, told the Seattle Times.
On Sunday, authorities in Eugene, Oregon, were forced to stop the American qualifying trials in the track and field events for the Olympic Games, as the public was told to leave the stadium for safety reasons.
Some COVID-19 vaccination centers have also closed due to the heat wave.
Some areas may see a slight dip in temperatures later in the week, but Boise, Idaho, may see a week in which the temperature rises above 40 degrees Celsius.
The National Weather Service said parts of the state could experience “one of the most intense long heat waves in the documented history of the Inland Northwest.”
The warnings to all citizens are to avoid strenuous activities and check on neighbors who are elderly and those with health problems.