Dozens dead as Canada cooks in unprecedented 49.5C (121F) heat dome

 Dozens of people have died in Canada as an unprecedented heatwave causes temperatures soar up to 49.5C (121F).

Lytton in British Columbia almost hit 50C (122F) on Tuesday as Canada broke its all-time temperature record for a third straight day. The searing heat that has baked Canada and the US Pacific northwest for several days now is the result of a weather phenomenon known as a ‘heat dome’.

More than 160 temperature records have been broken in recent days across the US and Canada – with temperatures topping 40C (104F) in several states – as the heat dome causes extremely hot and dry air to become trapped and build up.

Canada, a typical warm but not extremely hot country in the summer, has experienced the hottest temperatures of anywhere else. In Lytton, which is just 800 miles from Alaska, the mercury hit 49.5C (121F) to make the city hotter than Dubai.

Police in the Vancouver area say they have responded to more than 130 sudden deaths since Friday as the searing heat takes its toll. Most were elderly or had underlying health conditions, with heat being a contributing factor in many cases.

In the city alone the heat is believed to have been a contributing factor in the unexpected deaths of 65 people since Friday.

Meanwhile British Columbia chief coroner, Lisa Lapointe, has said 100 more deaths than normal had been reported in the period from Friday to Monday.

The US north-west has also seen record highs. On Monday a swathe of new temperature records were broken as Salem in Oregon hit 47.2C (117F) and Portland experienced 45.5C (115F) heat.

Elsewhere many areas saw temperatures peak beyond 38C (100F).

British Columbia premier John Horgan said the hottest week the province had ever experienced has led to ‘disastrous consequences for families and for communities’, BBC News reported.

The number of heat-related fatalities is likely to rise, according to experts, as some areas say they have responded to sudden death incidents but have yet to finalize the data.

Meghan Fandrich, a resident in Lytton, said it had been ‘almost impossible’ to go outside in the extreme heat.

She told the Globe & Mail newspaper that the weather has been ‘intolerable’.

‘We’re trying to stay indoors as much as possible. We’re used to the heat, and it’s a dry heat, but 30 (degrees) is a lot different from 47’, Fandrich said.

The excruciating temperatures will begin to cool starting with the Pacific northwest from Wednesday. The highs will drop to cooler and more manageable 80F to 90F as the slightly cooler conditions drift northwards.

Because of climate change record-setting temperatures are becoming more frequent in the US and around the world.

Globally the decade to 2019 was the hottest recorded, and the five hottest years have all occurred within the last five years.

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