Last month was the warmest June ever on record for North America, and one of the hottest ever globally, according to newly released data, the latest manifestation of the intensifying climate crisis that sent deadly heat waves across the Pacific Northwest.
The record highs have temporarily subsided over parts of the Northwest, but forecasters are warning that the region could be in for yet another heat wave by as soon as the weekend.
The new figures, from the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, were the result of “billions of measurements from satellites, ships, aircraft and weather stations around the world,” authorities said.
The findings come after a hellish month of heat across North America.
The small town of Lytton, British Columbia, broke Canada’s all-time temperature record three days straight with a high of 121 degrees before burning down in a wildfire, while readings in US cities like Portland and Seattle also shattered records.The heat strained governments across the region, as the most vulnerable—the poor, the unhoused, those without air conditions—baked in unseasonably early and unprecedentedly high heat.
The record temperatures were particularly disastrous for unhoused people, as The Independent reported, who’ve been battered with wildfires and the coronavirus over the last year.
“Last summer and fall we had the horrific wildfires,” said Scott Kerman, executive director of Blanchet House, which offers free meals, housing, and other services in Portland, Oregon.
“The smoke was unbearable. Then you get into the winter. Now we just went through an unprecedented heat wave. It was really a matter of life or death just to keep people hydrated.”
For many, the heat served as a reminder of the anomalous new normal of the climate crisis.
“I’m sure that people will – including public entities – start to build in cooling requirements and investments where that can be done,” Washington governor Jay Inslee said on Tuesday, but “there’s not enough chilling stations in the world to stop this problem if you don’t attack it at its source, which is climate change.”
“Temperatures,” he added, “are just the tip of the melting iceberg.”
It was also the second-warmest June on record, according to the figures, as well as the fourth warmest June ever in Arctic Siberia and across the whole globe.