From Inside Climate News (Bob Berwyn and Judy Fahys):
As residents prepare for even more temperature records to fall in the heat dome forecast to persist for days, scientists see a heavy climate change fingerprint.
The latest in a seemingly endless series of heat waves around the world hit the Pacific Northwest last weekend and will continue through the week, showing that even regions with cool coastlines and lush forests cannot avoid the blistering extremes of global warming.
Temperatures across most of Oregon and Washington spiked 20 to 30 degrees Celsius above normal, with even hotter conditions expected through Tuesday driving concerns about impacts to human health, infrastructure and ecosystems.
In a Twitter thread over the weekend, Ben Noll, a meteorologist with the New Zealand National Institute of Water & Atmospheric Research, reported that Portland, Oregon would be hotter than 99.9 percent of the rest of the planet on Sunday. “The only places expected to be hotter: Africa’s Sahara Desert, Persian Gulf, California’s deserts,” he tweeted.
On Sunday, the heat buckled roads as Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington reached a record temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit, 12 degrees hotter than its previous record of 92, which was set in 2015. And the western Canadian community of Lytton reached 116 on Sunday, an all-time record for the nation and one of 40 records set in British Columbia that day, according to the BBC.
Meanwhile, in Washington and Oregon east of the Cascade Mountains, the heat was expected to endure through the week, after reaching a projected high of 117 on Tuesday. At least 11 towns in northwest Oregon and southwest Washington state recorded all-time high temperatures, many surging past the previous maximums by 4 or 5 degrees Fahrenheit.
Excessive heat warnings covered western maps from British Columbia, Canada, to Montana in the east, and south to the U.S.-Mexico border. The heat wave shattered all-time temperature records on Saturday and Sunday with triple-digit temperatures, according to the National Weather Service. But still higher temperatures were forecast for Monday and Tuesday, as the “unprecedented event” continued to scorch the landscape and put health at risk through the week…
The intensity of the heat wave, measured by how far temperatures are spiking above normal, is among the greatest ever measured globally. The extremes are on par with a 2003 European heat wave that killed about 70,000 people, and a 2013 heat wave in Australia, when meteorologists added new shades of dark purple to their maps to show unprecedented temperatures.
And the more extreme the temperature records, climate scientists said, the more obvious the fingerprint of global warming will be on the heat wave. But even among climate scientists, the biggest concern was the immediate impacts of the record shattering temperatures…
North Seattle College climate scientist Heather Price taped aluminum foil inside her windows to try and protect her family of four as temperatures reached the 90s early Sunday morning. She used a handheld thermometer to check how much it cooled their home.
“This really is a public health emergency,” she said. “Of all disasters, heat kills the most people. The data is out there, and it’s worse in cool climates.” Even though Seattle has opened wading pools and spray parks that have been closed since early in the Covid-19 pandemic, some public water fountains are still turned off to prevent spread of the coronavirus.