Heat waves and the “heat domes” that can cause them aren’t rare, but the recent weather that’s been smothering the Pacific Northwest has little precedent in at least four decades of record-keeping.
To understand the magnitude of the departure from historical norms, it helps to visualize it. The map above, created by Geert Jan van Oldenborgh, a climate scientist at the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute, analyzes temperatures since 1979. It shows the extent of the areas experiencing extreme temperatures in the past week.
The heat has been not only widespread, but also intense, in some places surpassing records by double digits.
In Vancouver, British Columbia, this past weekend’s temperatures were far above norms for this time of year, and a town in British Columbia reached nearly 116 degrees, the highest recorded temperature for any place in Canada in its history. In Seattle, there have been only two other days in the last 50 years with temperatures in the triple digits: in 2009 and 1994. [Continue reading…]