PORTLAND, Oregon: The state of Oregon has confirmed that 63 people died due to the excessive heat that struck the Pacific Northwest in the past week.
Portland reached a record high of 116 degrees Fahrenheit. Portland now reports 45 deaths related to the heat.
As a matter of comparison, the entire state of Oregon had only 12 deaths from extreme heat from 2017 to 2019, officials said.
The Oregon Health Authority earlier reported that hospitals throughout the state registered hundreds of visits in recent days due to heat-related illnesses.
In Canada’s British Columbia, some 486 deaths were reported over five days due to the extreme heat. This number was nearly three times the usual number in the province for that period, the B.C. Coroners Service said Wednesday.
“This was a true health crisis that has underscored how deadly an extreme heat wave can be,” Multnomah County Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines said in a statement. “As our summers continue to get warmer, I suspect we will face this kind of event again.”
Temperatures soared in the regions as a dome that trapped heat overhead resulted in new temperature records being set from Alberta to Manitoba, said David Phillips, senior climatologist at Environment and Climate Change Canada, a government agency.
“In some of these places, their (temperature) records are being annihilated,” Phillips said. “It really is spectacular, unprecedented for us,” he told Reuters.
Commenting on the extreme weather, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Wednesday, “We’ve been seeing more and more of this type of extreme weather event in the past years,” Trudeau said. “So realistically, we know that this heatwave won’t be the last.”
Also, U.S. President Joe Biden said climate change was the cause of “a dangerous confluence of extreme heat and prolonged drought.”
Lytton, British Columbia, set a new record for Canada’s all-time hottest temperature record this week, reaching 121.28 degrees Fahrenheit (49.6 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday.
In the U.S. Northwest, Portland set all-time highs several days in a row, including 116F (47C) on Sunday.
In Washington state, Chelan County east of Seattle reported 119F (48C) on Tuesday.