Over 100 deaths may be tied to historic Northwest heat wave
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The grim toll of the historic heat wave in the Pacific Northwest became more apparent as authorities in Canada, Washington state and Oregon said Wednesday that they were investigating more than 100 deaths likely caused by scorching temperatures that shattered all-time records.
Oregon health officials said more than 60 deaths have been tied to the heat, with the state’s largest county, Multnomah, blaming the weather for 45 deaths since the heat wave began Friday.
In Vancouver, British Columbia, police said they had responded to more than 65 sudden deaths since Friday. Washington state authorities had linked more than half-dozen deaths to the heat, but that number was likely to rise.
“Vancouver has never experienced heat like this, and sadly dozens of people are dying because of it,” Vancouver police Sgt. Steve Addison said in a statement.
The heat wave was caused by what meteorologists described as a dome of high pressure over the Northwest and worsened by human-caused climate change, which is making such extreme weather events more likely and more intense. Seattle, Portland and many other cities broke all-time heat records, with temperatures in some places reaching above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 Celsius).
While the temperatures had cooled considerably in western Washington, Oregon and British Columbia by Wednesday, interior regions were still sweating through triple-digit temperatures as the weather system moved east into the intermountain West and the Plains.
Amid the dangerous heat and drought gripping the American West, crews were closely monitoring wildfires that can explode in the extreme weather.
The government’s Environment Canada agency issued heat warnings Wednesday for southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. Heat warnings also were in place for parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana.