After sparking global concerns by suffocating this summer under a historic heat dome, a region in western Canada has endured yet another record rise in mercury this week … to 22.5 ° C. This temperature was recorded in Penticton, in central British Columbia, the westernmost province of Canada which has suffered repeated extreme weather events for several months.
“It’s a record, or else it equalizes a record” dating back to 1982 in Ontario, said Thursday to Agence France-Presse (AFP) Armel Castellan, meteorologist at Environment Canada.
Penticton, which has some 33,000 inhabitants, is located a few hundred kilometers from Lytton, a municipality 250 kilometers northeast of Vancouver which recorded at the end of June the historic temperature record in Canada with 49.6 ° C, and which was 90% destroyed by forest fire. In Penticton, “The absolute record was 11.2 ° C in 2012, then yesterday the maximum temperature was 22.5 ° C, so that’s for sure a record ”, told AFP Gregory Yang, meteorologist at Environment Canada.
This region of the interior of British Columbia is also the one that suffered the effects of the heat dome this summer. “Historical”, which claimed more than 500 lives, followed by major fires. “Since September, we have had a lot, a lot of heat coming to us from the subtropics”, explained Armel Castellan.
For about a week, a “Atmospheric river” descends on southwestern British Columbia. Heavy rains have caused catastrophic flooding since mid-November in the province, events that have been linked to the effects of climate change by authorities.
Unusual winter heat also in the United States
Recent studies show the direct responsibility of climate change in certain heat waves. Thus, the extraordinary heatwave in Canada in June 2021, with temperatures approaching 50 ° C, would have been ” almost impossible “ without the warming, according to scientists at the World Weather Attribution.
The unusual winter heat spread throughout the northwestern United States, where December heat records were broken or equaled on Wednesday at various points in Washington, Montana, Wyoming and of North Dakota. Temperatures there could be almost 20 degrees Celsius higher than normal. On Thursday, this warm front shifted towards the center of the country, with for example a heat record for December 2 recorded in Omaha, Nebraska, where it was 20 ° C Thursday afternoon.
The American West has been confronted in recent years with increasingly marked weather hazards, in California in particular. The Californian authorities therefore plan to set up a heat wave warning system next year which would classify each of these episodes according to the number of feared deaths in order to promote preventive measures. As with hurricanes, each heat wave would be given a name and a danger rating.
Rather than just say “It will be 40.5 ° C”, the alert would indicate “Here is how many people are going to die”, summarizes in the Washington Post Larry Kalkstein, scientific advisor of the Adrienne Arsht-Rockefeller Foundation which promotes this initiative. Mr. Kalkstein’s team predicts three categories of heat waves. A phenomenon of index 1 would not present a major risk, with an increase in mortality of between 0% and 10%. Category 3 would be much more deadly, comparable to the exceptional heatwave that hit the northwestern United States and British Columbia last June.
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22.5 degrees in December: new record heat in Western Canada