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The all-time Canadian record was broken on Tuesday (June 29) in Lytton, British Columbia, with a maximum temperature of 49.5°C (121.1°F) for the third day in a row. Previous temperature records for Lytton were 47.5°C (117.5°F) on Monday (June 28) and 46.6°C (115.8°F) on Sunday (June 27).
The heatwave also caused discomfort across the border in the USA. Washington and Oregon have recorded temperatures well above 40°C (104°F) since Friday (June 25).
Officials in the western province of British Columbia said on Wednesday (June 30) that at least 486 unexpected deaths were reported over five days during the heatwave, as record temperatures are worrying for vulnerable groups, including the elderly.
Lisa Lapointe, the province’s chief coroner, said it was too early to say with certainty how many of these deaths were produced by the heatwave. Still, it is believed the significant increase in reported deaths is caused by unprecedented extreme weather in British Columbia and impacts many parts of the province.
In Vancouver alone, the heatwave was a contributing factor to the deaths of 65 people since Friday.
Environment Canada said on its website that this heatwave will become less intense from Wednesday, although temperatures will remain unusually high for the rest of the week.
Such extreme temperatures pose a significant threat to human health, agriculture, and the environment. The region is not accustomed to such heat, and the risk of fires is very high.
Many homes in British Columbia do not have air conditioning, as temperatures are usually much milder in the summer months.
Authorities are urging people to stay hydrated, not to go out, and take an interest in older family members and neighbors. Exposure to heat can have severe or fatal consequences, especially for the elderly, infants, young children, and those with chronic diseases.
Other parts of the northern hemisphere also had a warm summer start, including North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, Eastern Europe, Iran, and northwestern India.
Daily temperatures exceeded 45°C (113°F) in several regions and 50°C (122°F) in the Sahara.
Experts say climate change will raise the incidence of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves. However, each event must be analyzed separately as it may not be caused by global warming.
[Photo from Unsplash]