I tried to write about how extreme the weather has been in the PNW. I wrote at Wonkette & here on my blog. I tried to keep track of high temps, excessively high low temps, fires, and other important aspects of this heat wave. But I wasn’t willing to state that it was the most extreme heat wave event in the history of meteorology. I just don’t have the knowledge necessary to make such a judgement.
So don’t take it from me. Take it from climate scientists (source: Common Dreams):
“Never in the century-plus history of world weather observation have so many all-time heat records fallen by such a large margin than in the past week’s historic heatwave in western North America,” meteorologist Bob Henson and former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hurricane scientist Jeff Masters wrote for Yale Climate Connections.
“It’s not hype or exaggeration to call the past week’s heatwave the most extreme in world weather records,”
In my writing, I specifically called out that when Canada’s national hottest temperature had been recorded exactly two times total in the history of weather tracking at every damn place in the country, it just fucking has to be frightening that the record was not just broken, but broken multiple days in a row.
Think about this: of the 10 hottest temperatures ever recorded in Canada, at least six of them were recorded in the last 10 days, three of them at the same town, Lytton, on consecutive days. And those 6 aren’t just scattered through the top 10. They occupy spots 1 through 6. There may be many high temps at different towns in BC I’ve missed, but even if I saw and remembered every single temp that broke the previous national record this shit is not remotely normal. And of course I didn’t look at all high temps recorded over the last week. I really don’t know how many other towns might have posted a temp or 3 above the old record. (It’s very possible, in fact I believe it’s probably true, that of the highest 20 temperatures ever recorded in Canada, all 20 were recorded in the last 10 days because press stories kept focussing on Lytton since it had the current highs and not on other towns that broke the previous high that had stood since 1936.) But even if it’s only the 6 hottest temps out of 6 that the country has ever seen, that’s completely mind boggling. I was freaking out when I heard that not just Lytton but other towns in the same area had recorded temps above Canada’s previous national high (though the other towns did not top Lytton), often more than one day in a row, and I’m quite obviously still freaking out about it.
Well, I wasn’t the only one. And as bad as it is to smash the national record the way we did in Canada, Portland’s heat, which did not set records for the USA’s hottest temp ever, is mind boggling in its own way: it was comparable to that of Death Valley:
Portland, Oregon, broke its longstanding all-time record high (107°F from 1965 and 1981) on three days in a row—a stunning feat for any all-time record—with highs of 108°F on Saturday, June 26; 112°F on Sunday; and 116°F on Monday. That 116°F is one degree higher than the average daily high on June 28 at Death Valley, California. (Emphasis mine, because why the fuck not? This deserves emphasis!)
I can try to call attention to this, but I’m not really qualified to say how bad this is. I’m only qualified to scribe slightly more artistic expressions of shock than, “Holy fuck!”
And so I write. It’s what I know how to do. But I honestly don’t care if you listen to me as long as you listen to the scientists:
“Nowhere is safe… who would have predicted a temperature of 48/49°C [118.4°F/120.2°F] in British Columbia?” Sir David King, the former chief scientific adviser in the United Kingdom, said in an interview with The Guardian. “The risks have been understood and known for so long and we have not acted, now we have a very narrow timeline for us to manage the problem.”