Jul

BREAKING NEWS: Global Heat Wave Strikes on Anniversary of Northwest Heat Dome 

The extreme heat wave that has gripped the UK and the rest of Europe in sweltering, record-breaking temperatures is an urgent reminder of the heat dome that descended on our Pacific Northwest region only one year ago.

In Britain and most of Europe today, few homes, apartments, schools or small businesses have air conditioning, making residents vulnerable.

Wales reported its hottest temperature on record Monday of 95.5 degrees. 

In France, heat records were broken and swirling hot winds complicated firefighting in the country’s southwest.

The heat is intense in mostly un-air-conditioned Switzerland. The high in Geneva on Monday was a blistering 98 degrees.

The scientific consensus is that heat waves are more intense, more frequent and longer because of climate change.

“Heat waves that used to be rare are now common; heat waves that used to be impossible are now happening and killing people. We saw this with the Pacific Northwest heat wave last year, which would have been almost impossible without human-caused warming,” said Friederike Otto, a scientist at the Grantham Institute at Imperial College in  London. 

It was one year ago, in June of 2021, that a heatwave engulfed our region, with both Portland and Seattle breaking record high temperatures (Portland hit 112F [44C], while Seattle hit 104F). Seattle reached 100F for three consecutive days – and Washington state surpassed its all-time high for June, with at least one part of the state reaching 115F.

One year after that heat dome, emergency managers, doctors and even transit systems across the Pacific Northwest are taking lessons learned to prepare for this summer as climate change increases the likelihood of similar heat domes occurring again.

Lawmakers in Oregon this March passed a bill limiting restrictions that landlords and homeowners’ associations can place on portable cooling devices. The legislation, known as the “Right to Cooling” bill, also creates a state program to distribute air conditioners and filters to needy residents during emergencies.

All of us need to be better prepared for the next heat wave so that we can save lives and protect our vulnerable populations. [QHEAC]

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