A historic heat wave in western Canada is believed to have led to a sharp spike of deaths in British Columbia, with the toll expected to climb further.
The 486 sudden deaths are nearly triple the 165 that would normally occur in the province over a five-day period, according to local weather agency. The number is preliminary and is expected to rise as more records are entered into the system.
A new Canadian record was set this week in Lytton, British Columbia, where the temperature reached 121 degrees Fahrenheit (49.5 degrees Celsius). The heat has stunned residents in a region accustomed to weather so cool and chilly at this time of the year. Temperatures have been soaring some 25 degrees Celsius above average for this time of the year – a deviation as anomalous as having an ice-forming freeze in late June, according to Tyler Hamilton, a Toronto-based meteorologist for The Weather Network.
Calls to 911 in the province have broken records and emergency responders are being stretched thin, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said at a news conference yesterday.