More Than Two Dozen Deaths in Vancouver Area Likely Linked to Record Heat Wave, Police Say | The Weather Channel – Articles from The Weather Channel
- More than two dozen deaths in one Canadian city are likely connected to the heat, officials say.
- More than 200 people were treated for heat-related illnesses in Oregon Monday.
- At least three people died while swimming in Washington lakes and rivers.
More than two dozen deaths in a Vancouver suburb are likely connected to the historic heat wave that in recent days has smashed temperature records from Western Canada into California, first responders in the town say.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Burnaby, about 9 miles east of Vancouver, said 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 neighbors.
“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.
In the United States, heat-related hospital visits spiked and several people reportedly drowned while trying to cool off as residents across the Northwest suffered through the blistering heat that has tied or broken dozens of all-time records.
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 Associated Press.
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 on Monday, according to the state’s health authority. 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 centers 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 neighbors 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.
And as the heat wave moves to the east, at least one utility company was warning of rolling blackouts through Tuesday afternoon in Spokane, Washington. About 8,200 customers of Avista Utilities lost power Monday.
Meanwhile, officials in Maricopa County, Arizona, are investigating 53 deaths believed to be connected to a heat wave 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 heat waves 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 heat wave. “That is why it is so disturbing.”
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