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Severe and dangerous weather hits many areas around the world

A woman soaks in the sun in the Montreal borough of Lasalle on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Christinne Muschi / The Canadian Press) A woman soaks in the sun in the Montreal borough of Lasalle on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Christinne Muschi / The Canadian Press)
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As climate change specialist Gary Lines examined the recent severe weather patterns happening around the world, his reaction was one of mild surprise.

"But not totally shocked by it," said Lines, who is a retired Environment Canada meteorologist. "I thought it was going to take some time to ramp up, but I think the speed in which the weather has ramped up is what has surprised me."

Years ago, based on scientific data, Lines knew severe hot temperatures, dry conditions, tropical storms and other forms of severe weather would eventually increase in frequency.

"We now have a heat event in June in Atlantic Canada as opposed to July and August, and that is a bit of a surprise," said Lines. "We knew we would have more days with warmer temperatures, but this early was also a little bit of surprise."

Much of central and eastern Canada had to contend with soaring temperature and humidity this week as a heat dome blanketed large areas of the country. The stagnant weather pattern produced record-setting high temperatures in Ont., Que., and Atlantic Canada.

In some cases, high levels of heat and humidity triggered rounds of severe thunderstorms.

Relief for some finally arrived in the form of a passing cold front, which lowered temperatures and humidity levels as it moved through the east.

On Friday, only southwestern Ont., including areas from Kitchener to Windsor, remained under a heat warning by Environment Canada. Those areas are still experiencing humidex values making it feel into the high 30s and 40s.

"It is a killer and it exacerbates all kinds of diseases like heart disease, lung disease," said seniors advocate Bill VanGorder. "All of these people, these seniors are hit hard when it comes to weather like this."

Sixteen U.S. states are under heat alerts as a dangerous heat wave continues. Overseas, many areas in Europe are experiencing record-breaking heat.

In Saudi Arabia, temperatures surged past 50 C and officials report hundreds of deaths during this year's five-day Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

"The people are very religiously motivated, because for some of them, it is a once in a lifetime affair," climate scientist Faheed Saeed said.

India is reporting tens of thousands of heatstroke cases this summer and more than 30 people have died in flash floods and landslides brought on by heavy rain.

Lines said people around the world are slowly learning to be less reactive to these weather trends and more proactive.

"There is more happening now, with people learning to get prepared for the next event that is going to be more severe than the one we just had," he said. 

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