Last week saw numerous heatwaves in different parts of the world. Some civilians had to go to cooling shelters, while others had little to no access to air conditioning. Here’s an update on some of the nations experiencing extreme heat.
The cause of the U.S.—Canada heat is a phenomenon known as a “heat dome”. How does it work? As warm air tries to rise, the high-pressure system above pushes the warm air back down to the surface. As the air gets compressed, it gets hotter and denser. The result of this has broken temperature records across western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest.
Last week the state of Oregon reported 63 deaths linked to the heatwave. It is believed that some deaths in Washington were also linked to the heatwave.
U.S. President Joe Biden said the heatwave was linked to climate change in a speech last week, saying “climate change is driving the dangerous confluence of extreme heat and prolonged drought. We’re seeing wildfires of greater intensity that move with more speed and last well beyond traditional months, traditional months of the fire season”. The President also met with governors of western U.S. states and fire officials as the wildfire season is set to begin.
Canada broke its country temperature record for three straight days, with the temperature at one point reaching 49.6 degrees Celsius in the village of Lytton in British Columbia. Last week, over a five day period, British Columbia recorded at least 486 sudden deaths. This is nearly three times the usual number that would occur in the province over that period.
Reflecting on these fatality numbers, British Columbia’s Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said, “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 B.C. has experienced and continues to impact many parts of our province”.
Police in the Vancouver area have also responded to more than 130 sudden deaths since Friday. Most were elderly or had underlying health conditions, with heat a contributing factor.
India faced consecutive days with temperatures over 40 degrees Celsius last week. Delhi saw 43.1 degrees Celsius on Thursday, the hottest July day in the city since 2012. Currently, just five percent of Indian households have air conditioning. Temperatures have remained more than seven degrees Celsius above normal for this time of the year. As a result, some areas of the country have reduced office hours for employees. Furthermore, India is currently experiencing severe water shortages with tens of millions of people lacking running water.
However, on Friday, parts of the nation experienced rail and hail, bringing much needed relief as the temperature began to drop.