How Significant Was Last Month’s Heatwave?

June 2021 was the hottest June ever recorded in North America; in several cities, records were exceeded by 7°F (4°C).
June 2021 was the hottest June ever recorded in North America; in several cities, records were exceeded by 7°F (4°C).

This summer’s extreme heatwave in the Pacific Northwest of the United States and Canada's western provinces produced some eye-popping temperatures in areas where air conditioners are rarely used. For example, temperatures reached an all-time record of 121.3 degrees Fahrenheit (49.6 degrees Celsius) in Canada. In Oregon, the cables that provide power for Portland’s streetcar system melted in the 112 °F (44 °C) swelter.

All told, June 2021 was the hottest June ever recorded in North America. Several cities in the United States and Canada suffered through temperature increases of more than 7 °F (4 °C) above previous records.

Hot, hot, hot:

  • This year’s heatwave resulted from a phenomenon called an omega block, which is a dome of hot air trapped in place by atmospheric currents.

  • On June 28, Seattle recorded its hottest day ever, a miserable 108 °F (42 °C) That's about 34 degrees (Fahrenheit) above the normal highs the city experiences at that time of year.

  • In British Columbia, 579 deaths were attributed to the oppressive heat. In the U.S., the heatwave was blamed for 116 deaths in Oregon, and 78 deaths in Washington state.

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    • June 2021 was the hottest June ever recorded in North America; in several cities, records were exceeded by 7°F (4°C).
      June 2021 was the hottest June ever recorded in North America; in several cities, records were exceeded by 7°F (4°C).