US and Canada heatwave: Pacific Northwest sees record temperatures

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People take shelter in a cooling centre in PortlandImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
People have been taking refuge at cooling centres

A heatwave has hit large parts of the US Pacific Northwest and Canada, sending records tumbling.

The US National Weather Service has issued heat warnings for much of Washington and Oregon states. Parts of California and Idaho are also affected.

On Saturday temperatures in Seattle, Washington State, reached 101F (38C), a record in the city for June.

Some cities have opened cooling centres, where residents can escape the heat in air-conditioned buildings.

The soaring temperatures are due to a dome of high pressure hovering over north-western United States and Canada.

Experts say climate change is expected to increase the frequency of extreme weather events, such as heatwaves, however linking any single event to global warming is complicated.

As the climate changes, there could be an increase in the number of deaths from floods, storms and heatwaves, experts say.

The National Weather Service (NWS) said that even hotter temperatures were forecast for the coming days throughout the Pacific Northwest as well as parts of western Nevada and California.

Despite the warnings many people have been enjoying the sunshine, with lakes busy and pools running at full capacity.

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With extreme weather events on the rise, Reality Check's Chris Morris unpacks the difference and relationship between weather and climate.

Temperatures are expected to soar 20 - 30F above average in Washington and Oregon states.

"Residents are urged to avoid extended periods of time outdoors, stay hydrated and check on vulnerable family members/neighbours," the NWS said.

Shops have sold out of portable air conditioners and fans and a number of Covid vaccination drives have been cancelled.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
The National Weather Service has warned of dangerous heat in the Pacific Northwest

The area normally sees mild weather and many people do not have air conditioning.

Oregon's health authority has removed Covid capacity limits at large venues with air conditioning such as cinemas and shopping malls in order for people to take shelter from the heat.

In Canada, British Columbia recorded the hottest temperature in the country on Saturday - 43.2C. Parts of Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories are under a heat warning.

The heat there is also expected to continue through the week with records expected to fall.