Typically associated with milder weather, Western Canada is currently suffering a dangerous heatwave, which is being exacerbated by relentless wildfires.
Record temperatures have hit the Pacific Northwest, and with the devastating wildfires increasing in numbers, ninety percent of a small village of about 250 people in British Columbia, Lytton has been burned to the ground after recording Canada’s highest ever temperature of 121 Fahrenheit (49.6 degrees Celsius).
The wildfires have spawned enormous clouds that have swept throughout the area, resulting in more than 710,000 lightning strikes in one night. These stormy clouds, known as cumulonimbus flammagenitus, form over a source of heat and pump out an intense shower of lightning strikes, potentially fueling the flames even more.
Ok, so now that I've picked my jaw up off the ground...— Chris Vagasky (@COweatherman) July 1, 2021
Yesterday was a terrible #pyroCB #lightning event in #BCwx and into #ABwx. Between 3pm June 30 and 6am July 1 (Pacific Time), the North American Lightning Detection Network detected 710,117 total lightning events. pic.twitter.com/Wj6nMHrcOX
On Wednesday, Vaisala meteorologist Chris Vagasky tweeted that the North American Lightning Detection Network detected 710,117 lightning bolts across British Columbia and northwestern Alberta in only 15 hours between the afternoon of June 30 and the early morning of July 1.
There were 112,803 cloud-to-ground lightning bolts among these events, whereas 597,314 were in-cloud pulses, which meant the strikes didn't hit the earth. According to Vagasky, this amounts to around 5% of Canada's yearly lightning in just 0.2 percent of the year, Gizmodo reports.
This year's heatwave was predicted to be "historic, dangerous, prolonged, and unprecedented," by the National Weather Service, and it's so far in life with scientific expectations.
On Tuesday, June 29, Canada established a new record high of 121.2 F (49.6 C). The region, known for its milder weather, has been shaken to the core because of the freak weather, with the residents and infrastructure unprepared for the immense heath. More than 130 people died after the heatwave shattered temperature records -- most of them were elderly or had underlying health conditions.
The wildfire that broke out near Lytton not only destroyed 90 percent of the village but also killed two people, according to CBC News. As of June 4, emergency personnel in Canada are battling more than 180 wildfires in British Columbia, and approximately 70 percent of the active wildfires were likely sparked by lightning strikes, according to the British Columbia Wildfire Service's dashboard.