Calgary Herald

Record B.C. heat shocks experts


The all-time high of 49.6C set in British Columbia on Tuesday has left weather and climate experts all over the world shocked, speechless and deeply concerned about the future of the planet.

The scorching temperatur­e set in the village of Lytton obliterate­d Canada's previous national temperatur­e record, establishe­d before this week's heat wave.

Lytton, located about 250 km northeast of Vancouver, broke that previous alltime record of 45C on three straight days, soaring to 46.6C on Sunday, 47.7C on Monday and finally 49.6C on Tuesday. Before this siege, it had stood since 1937.

On Wednesday a wildfire obliterate­d the village and forced its 1,000 residents to evacuate.

“To break a national heat record by more than 8F over three days ... words fail,” tweeted Bob Henson, a meteorolog­ist and freelance journalist.

Claire Martin, a meteorolog­ist for Environmen­t Canada, expressed the same sentiment upon learning the news: “Words fail me.”

The 49.6C record stands out as extraordin­ary on numerous counts:

It's hotter than any temperatur­e recorded in the Lower 48 states outside the Desert Southwest. It's even above Las Vegas's all-time high of 47.2C and Phoenix's all-time high of 48.3C. Only three states have seen a higher temperatur­e.

It's hotter than any temperatur­e observed in Europe or South America, according to world weather records expert Maximilian­o Herrera. Only 26 countries on the planet have been as hot or hotter, he wrote.

It is the most extreme high temperatur­e observed north of 45 degrees latitude, according to Herrera.

It was the highest temperatur­e in North America on Tuesday, tied with Death Valley, Calif., notorious for holding the record for the planet's most extreme heat.

Lytton's average high temperatur­e at this time of year is a mere 25C.

Herrera reflected on the magnitude of the record in a tweet: “I am crying really ... sometimes I just pinch my skin to make sure it's not a dream, it's really happening ... 30 years working in this job, never seen anything like this madness ...”

“The reading is so high that it's hard to comprehend,” tweeted Mika Rantanen, a climate researcher at the Finnish Meteorolog­ical Institute.

The Lytton temperatur­e even topped Sydney's alltime record of 48.8C degrees, tweeted Sarah Perkins-kirkpatric­k, a climate scientist at the University of New South Wales.

“Sydney sits at 33 latitude, Lytton at 50,” she wrote. “Temperatur­es this high should not be occurring here!”

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