Northwest US battles 'unprecedented' heat wave; deaths, power outage reported

Published on Jun 30, 2021 06:00 AM IST

Washington and Oregon have borne the brunt of the heat wave. President Joe Biden also acknowledged the heat wave during a speech in Wisconsin.

A man cools off at a misting station during the scorching weather of a heatwave in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on June 27 (Jennifer Gauthier / REUTERS)
A man cools off at a misting station during the scorching weather of a heatwave in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on June 27 (Jennifer Gauthier / REUTERS)
By | Written by Karan Manral | Edited by Amit Chaturvedi, New Delhi

As the northwest US battles an "unprecedented" heat wave, officials have said at least more than half a dozen deaths in Washington and Oregon might be due to the heat wave that began last week.

In Oregon, an immigrant from Guatemala who apparently arrived in the US just a few months ago, and was working at a nursery in St. Paul, might have died due to the heat wave, the state's worker safety agency, known as Oregon Osha, said. Also in Oregon, officials in Bend said deaths of two homeless people may have been weather-related. Meanwhile, deaths of four people in Washington's Bremerton were also ascribed to weather.

The National Weather Service said the "dangerous" weather which led to consecutive days of record high temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.7 degrees Celsius) in both Seattle (Washington state) and Portland (Oregon) is now expected to ease though the agency also said the mercury was recorded at 109 Fahrenheit or 42.2 degrees Celsius in Spokane (Washington)-the highest-ever temperature recorded there.

According to energy corporation Avista Utilities, about 9,300 of its customers in Spokane lost power on Monday, adding that more "planned" blackouts began on Tuesday afternoon. "We try to limit outages to one hour per customer," said Heather Rosentrater, an Avista Utilities vice president.

Explaining why the company had to implement deliberate blackouts, Avista president and chief executive Dennis Vermillion said, "The electric system experienced a new peak demand, and the strain of high temperatures impacted the system in a way that required us to proactively turn off power for customers. This happened faster than anticipated.

US president Joe Biden, while delivering a speech in Wisconsin, also took note of the heat wave in the northwest. "“Anybody ever believe you’d turn on the news and see it’s 116 degrees in Portland Oregon? 116 degrees! But don’t worry, there is no global warming because it’s just a figment of our imaginations," Biden said.

Meteorologists have said a "dome of high pressure" over the northwest has led to the intense heat wave in the region. "Human-caused climate change," experts say, has led to the worsening of the heat wave.

(With agency inputs)

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