[we re related]More Than 500 Deaths in USA and Canada Likely Linked to Record-Breaking Heatwave; Death Toll Growing
Deaths rose 195% in British Columbia.Officials in Oregon reported at least 63 heat-related deaths.Dozens of temperature records were tied or broken.
More than 486 “sudden and unexpected” deaths were reported in the Canadian Province of British Columbia between Friday and Wednesday, as a blistering, record-breaking heatwave baked western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest.
The number represents a 195% increase in the typical number of such deaths in a similar time frame, British Columbia Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said in a statement.
”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,” Lapointe said.
At least 63 deaths in the USA’s Oregon are being blamed on the heat.
The state’s medical examiner said 45 of the deaths occurred in the Portland area, The Oregonian reported.
Oregon State Police Spokesperson Tim Fox told the newspaper that the number, accurate as of Wednesday, was based on data from county medical examiner’s offices and could go up as more deaths are reported and investigated.
The people who died in the Portland area ranged from 44 to 97 years old and many had underlying health conditions, according to the Multnomah County Medical Examiner.
Many were found alone with no air conditioning or fans.
Meanwhile, officials in New York City asked residents to conserve electricity on Wednesday as temperatures rose there.
Besides Portland, dozens of deaths in other cities and scores of hospital visits are also linked to the sweltering temperatures, officials in the affected areas say.
“We’ve never experienced anything like this heat in Vancouver, and sadly, dozens of people are dying because of it,” Sgt. Steve Addison, a spokesperson for the police in Vancouver, Canada, said in a news conference late Tuesday evening.
Vancouver police had responded to at least 65 “sudden death” calls since Friday, Addison said. Twenty of those were on Monday alone and another dozen were waiting for police to be dispatched.
The department typically responds to three or four such calls a day. Addison said the police department was calling in off-duty officers and reassigning others to handle the massive caseload.
Officials said about a dozen deaths in Washington were likely related to the heat, the Associated Press reported.
In the Seattle area, two people died due to hyperthermia, meaning their bodies became dangerously overheated, according to the King County medical examiner.
Three men in Snohomish County were reported to have died after experiencing heatstroke in their homes.
The heat also may be to blame for the death of an agricultural worker at a nursery in Oregon.
Earlier, officials said more than two dozen deaths in a Vancouver suburb were likely connected to the heatwave that has smashed temperature records from western Canada into California.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Burnaby, about 9 miles east of Vancouver, said in a news release Tuesday that they had responded to more than 25 “sudden death” calls in the previous 24 hours.
”Although still under investigation, heat is believed to be a contributing factor in the majority of the deaths,” the release stated. “Many of the deceased have been seniors.”
Police urged people to check in on their neighbours.
”We are seeing this weather can be deadly for vulnerable members of our community, especially the elderly and those with underlying health issues,” Burnaby RCMP Cpl. Mike Kalanj said.
There were reports of dozens of similar calls in the nearby town of Surrey.
Several people reportedly drowned while trying to cool off.
The extreme temperatures also caused roads to buckle, businesses to close and led to rolling electricity blackouts.
”It truly is life-threatening and we’re not used to this, we’re not prepared for it,” Betsy Robertson, a Red Cross spokesperson in Seattle, told ABC News.
Robertson noted that many homes in the region aren’t air-conditioned.
”The lucky few who have air conditioning are staying indoors, and for just about everybody else, they’re having to get very creative to keep their house cool, and hopefully seeking refuge outside of their home if it becomes too hot,” she said.
In some cases, though, that also becomes dangerous. At least three people died while swimming in Washington lakes and rivers over the weekend, according to the AP.
Two people swimming in the Willamette River southwest of Portland in Yamhill County went missing in separate incidents on Saturday. The search for both missing men was suspended on Monday, the Oregonian reported.
Also in Oregon, about 250 people were seen in hospital emergency rooms or urgent care facilities for heat-related illnesses at the peak of the event on Monday, according to the state’s health authority. The number was around 100 on Tuesday. More than 150 were seen on Sunday and about 60 on Saturday. Those numbers are a sharp rise compared to what’s usual.
”This is associated with the excessive heat seen across the state,” state health officials said.
The numbers included nearly four dozen people who were treated for heat-related illnesses in Portland over the weekend, where a typical June day normally sees one or fewer cases, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
”People’s bodies are stressed,” said Dr. Jennifer Vines, health officer for Multnomah County, told OPB. “My main message is to take this for the serious health threat that this is.”
The county’s Emergency Medical Services received a record number of calls on Sunday.
Cooling centres with food, cots and water were opened for those who needed a place to escape the heat.
Ebony Morris, who’s living in a tent in Portland, told the Oregonian that local residents were dropping off water and food after another sweltering night.
”This is what has been happening since the weekend,” Morris said. “So many neighbours are stopping by to ask if we need help. Everyone is helping out.”
Advocates working at a homeless camp in Bend, Oregon, suspect that two men they found dead over the weekend succumbed to the extreme temperatures.
Campers had to be evacuated from one location on Mount Hood due to flooding from snowmelt that was likely accelerated by the heat, according to Heather Ibsen, a spokesperson for Mt. Hood National Forest.
”Because of the loose soils and seasonal snowmelt, this road can be prone to temporary flooding – usually after high rain events,” Ibsen told KGW-TV. “In this case, extreme temperatures likely contributed to snowmelt and some point along the creek might have become blocked and the water diverted, making its own course across the road.”
The campground is closed until further notice.
Interstate 5 in Seattle was closed after the heat caused the pavement to buckle, the AP reported. Crews in tanker trucks were hosing down drawbridges to prevent the steel from expanding and causing issues with the bridge’s operations.
Cherry farmers in the central part of the state set up canopies, deployed sprinklers and sent workers out at night to pick fruit in hopes of saving their crops from the heat.
Meanwhile, officials in Maricopa County, Arizona, are investigating 53 deaths believed to be connected to a heatwave earlier this month, according to the AP.
Nationwide, extreme heat is responsible for more weather-related deaths in the U.S. in an average year than any other hazard.
Excessive heat claimed an average of 138 lives per year in the U.S. from 1990 through 2019, according to NOAA. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention puts the number even higher at more than 600 per year.
Statistics compiled from NOAA data show that heatwaves have become more common, longer-lasting and more intense as global warming has ramped up since the 1960s.
”This is the beginning of a permanent emergency,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told NBC News amid the current blistering heatwave. “That is why it is so disturbing.”
1/49A person uses an umbrella for shade from the sun while walking near Pike Place Market, Tuesday, June 29, 2021, in Seattle. The unprecedented Northwest U.S. heat wave that slammed Seattle and Portland, Oregon, moved inland Tuesday — prompting an electrical utility in Spokane, Washington, to resume rolling blackouts amid heavy power demand. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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