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Historic Northwest heat wave may have killed hundreds

by Mary Sewell

SALEM, Ore. — Hundreds of deaths in Canada, Oregon, and Washington may have been caused by the historic heatwave that baked the Pacific Northwest and shattered all-time temperature records in usually temperate cities.

“While it is too early to say with certainty how many of these deaths are heat-related, it is believed likely that the significant increase in deaths reported is attributable to the extreme weather,” LaPointe said in a statement.

Like Seattle, many homes in Vancouver, British Columbia, don’t have air conditioning.

“Vancouver has never experienced heat like this, and sadly dozens of people are dying because of it,” Vancouver police Sgt. Steve Addison said in a statement.

Washington state authorities had linked more than 20 deaths to the heat, but that number was likely to rise.

The heatwave was caused by what meteorologists described as a dome of high pressure over the Northwest and worsened by human-caused climate change, making such extreme weather events more likely and more intense. Seattle, Portland, and many other cities broke all-time heat records, with temperatures in some places reaching above 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 Celsius).

While the temperatures had cooled considerably in western Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia by Wednesday, interior regions were still sweating through triple-digit temperatures as the weather system moved east into the intermountain West and the Plains. Environment Canada issued heat warnings Wednesday for southern Alberta and Saskatchewan. Heat warnings also were in place for parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.

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