Canada suffers the main lethal effects of the ‘pressure cooker’ by the heat wave, while 36 fires punished the US
Never since 1937 has Canada been subjected to such an ordeal as the one that now causes sudden deaths in the streets or homes and blows up the asphalt on the roads. The heat wave hitting North America has become a graveyard. The country’s authorities yesterday reported the death of at least 233 people in four days as a result of temperatures that have reached 49.6 degrees Celsius in the province of British Columbia.
Molten lead is also raining in the United States. The effect called ‘pressure cooker’ wreaks havoc among the population, with at least a dozen deaths and multiple hospitalizations of citizens suffering from heart problems, hypertension crisis and heat stroke. In addition, 36 fires spread through the forests of California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Arizona, where 9,000 firefighters are deployed.
The authorities of both countries follow with disbelief the development of this air torch, which originates when high pressures trap hot air as if they were a cover, generating a heat dome over the earth’s surface. This is not a novel event – less than a month ago a similar system spread another wave of lesser magnitude in the United States – but it is exceptional due to its extreme intensity.
The Canadian meteorological agency recognized yesterday “without words” to describe the size of this ‘pot’, although it admitted that with temperatures close to 50 degrees it was expected that “it would be deadly.” The last time a similar phenomenon occurred, in 2018 in the Quebec region, there were about 70 deaths. The country had not faced such a situation since 84 years ago the thermometers of Midale, in the province of Saskatchewan, registered 45 degrees Celsius.
The tragedy is joined by fear. The UN and a large group of North American scientists agree that this wave is the result of progressive global warming “which causes higher temperatures for more days in a row.” “Heat waves are becoming more frequent and intense. They start earlier and finish later, and they take an increasing toll on human health, ”diagnoses the World Meteorological Organization.
They know it well in Lytton, the new Death Valley. Located in the Rocky Mountains, 250 kilometers from Vancouver, summer often arrives in this town in British Columbia with the need to bundle up with a jacket at night. But since the weekend, the mercury has not dropped below 46 degrees. And yesterday it stood at 49.6. At night, hell has continued to work. “We are observing temperatures rather typical of the Middle East or North Africa,” says the UN. The heat dome extends to Vancouver, on the Pacific coast, where there have been a hundred deaths, Yukon, Alberta and the Northwest Territories of Canada, which at this time do not usually exceed 25 degrees. Experts believe that the phenomenon will continue until tomorrow.
The Canadian Police reported that most of the deaths have occurred due to sudden death and in people over 60 years of age, although also among workers exposed for hours to the sun. Since Tuesday, however, it is difficult to see movement in the streets. Schools have closed, there are companies that have recovered teleworking, nobody does outdoor activities and vaccination campaigns against the coronavirus have been interrupted at least until the weekend.
The heat has also multiplied the problems in the public transport network. «It is something unusual. Unbearable heat. Many do not even risk going out with the car. And the worst thing is that the situation hardly declines at night, which accentuates the feeling of suffocation and health problems, “say the Canadian authorities, who have improvised large refrigerated centers with air conditioning and spray water curtains where citizens can find shelter. There, the homeless who have been moved off the streets and those who lack air conditioning in their homes, a rare appliance in these regions, share space.
A zipper of fire
“Global warming is causing the dangerous combination of extreme heat and prolonged drought,” said the president of the United States in an extraordinary meeting called yesterday to analyze the wave of fires in the north of the country. Joe Biden called on Republicans skeptical of global warming – a broad movement spearheaded by his predecessor, Donald Trump – not to indulge in a “partisan debate” and join forces with Democrats to fight the greenhouse effect.
The border between Canada and the United States is a zipper of fire. On this side are thousands of hectares of land affected, farms destroyed, livestock dead and infrastructure destroyed. Portland and Seattle reached between 42 and 46.5 degrees on Tuesday, the highest record since 1940. Biden announced that he will raise the salary of firefighters – now set at $ 15 an hour – to thank them for their enormous effort and warned that their work “already it is not seasonal.
Nor is it unique, the UN has detected that the heat wave has spread across Europe, North Africa, the Arabian Peninsula or India, as revealed by the high and unusual values measured in these regions. Even Moscow can exceed 30 degrees today, although it remains an anecdote compared to the more than 50 that have been recorded in the Sahara.