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Unprecedented heat, hundreds dead and a town destroyed. Climate change is frying the Northern Hemisphere

Unprecedented heat, hundreds dead and a town destroyed. Climate change is frying the Northern Hemisphere

(CNN)The tiny town of Lytton has come to hold a grim record. On Tuesday, it experienced Canada's highest-ever temperature, in an unprecedented heat wave that has over a week killed hundreds of people and triggered more than 240 wildfires across British Columbia, most of which are still burning.

Lytton hit 49.6 degrees Celsius (121.3 degrees Fahrenheit), astounding for the town of just 250 people nestled in the mountains, where June maximum temperatures are usually around 25 degrees. This past week, however, its nights have been hotter than its days usually are, in a region where air conditioning is rare and homes are designed to retain heat.

Smoke rises from a fire at Long Loch and Derrickson Lake in Central Okanagan in Canada on June 30.

Now fires have turned much of Lytton to ash and forced its people, as well as hundreds around them, to flee.

Scientists have warned for decades that climate change will make heat waves more frequent and more intense. That is a reality now playing out in Canada, but also in many other parts of the Northern Hemisphere that are increasingly becoming uninhabitable.

Roads melted last week in America's Northwest, and residents in New York City were told not to use high-energy appliances, like washers and dryers — and painfully, even their air conditioners — for the sake of the power grid.

In Russia, Moscow reported its highest-ever June temperature of 34.8 degrees on June 23, and Siberian farmers are scrambling to save their crops from dying in an ongoing heat wave. Even in the Arctic Circle, temperatures soared into the 30s. The World Meteorological Organization is seeking to verify the highest-ever temperature north of the Arctic Circle since records there began, after a weather station in Siberia's Verkhoyansk recorded a 38-degree day on June 20.
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