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The Vancouver skyline, where Environment Canada has issued an air quality advisory and heat warning. Photo: Andrew Chin/Getty Images

Nearly 500 people have died in British Columbia since Friday as a historic heat wave grips the region, Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said in a statement Wednesday.

Why it matters: The heatwave in the Pacific Northwest has shattered records and alarmed scientists. In Lytton, British Columbia the temperature soared to 121°F on Tuesday, conditions which, in North America, are usually reserved for the desert Southwest.

The big picture: The record-breaking temperatures scorching the Pacific Northwest have translated to a markedly higher death rate than usual in British Columbia.

  • "The last five days in British Columbia have seen an unprecedented number of deaths reported to the BC Coroners Service. Between Friday and 1 p.m. today, at least 486 sudden and unexpected deaths have been reported to our agency," Lapointe noted.
  • The 486 deaths represent a "195% increase over the approximately 165 deaths that would normally occur in the province over a five-day period," she added.

Of note: Although not all of these deaths can be attributed to the heatwave in the Pacific Northwest, Lapointe said the extreme weather is likely responsible for the surge in numbers.

  • “While it is too early to say with certainty how many of these deaths are heat related, it is believed likely that the significant increase in deaths reported is attributable to the extreme weather B.C. has experienced and continues to impact many parts of our province."

What to watch: The number is "preliminary" and is expected to increase as more reports are filed and data is updated.

What they're saying: John Horgan, the premier of British Columbia, said at a press conference Tuesday that the heat wave underscored the existential threat posed by global warming, per the New York Times.

  • “The big lesson coming out of the past number of days is that the climate crisis is not a fiction,” Horgan said. “It is absolutely real.”

Our thought bubble, from Axios' Andrew Freedman: Climate studies have shown that extreme heat events such as this one are becoming more severe and frequent due to human-induced climate change, but the magnitude and longevity of this weather pattern has shocked many climate researchers. To put the heat into context, the all-time high temperature record in Las Vegas, Nevada stands at 117 degrees. British Columbia shattered that this week.

Go deeper: Pacific Northwest heat wave, Canada temperature record shock experts

Go deeper

Mapped: Minnesota's major weather-related disasters

Expand chart
Data: FEMA; Map: Jared Whalen/Axios

Minnesota is so far better off than most of the country when it comes to weathering climate-related disasters, but we're not immune from the effects of increased greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

Why it matters: Some regions of the U.S. are safer from climate-fueled extreme weather events than others, but no region will be untouched, Axios' Ben German wrote in a recent "Deep Dive" on climate change.

Zoom out: The map above shows major disasters declared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency during the past two decades — a snapshot that ranges from hurricanes and severe storms to wildfires and drought.

Zoom in: Below, check out a county-by-county look at the weather disasters over the past two decades here in Minnesota.

What to watch: Will our relatively mild threat of extreme weather compared to other parts of the country make us a hot spot people looking to move from harder-hit regions?

  • Duluth, for example, is seeing some anecdotal evidence that "climate migrants" are moving to the area to escape more extreme weather elsewhere, MPR News reports.

Airlines call for Biden admin's "immediate intervention" in 5G deployment

Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The CEOs of leading U.S. air cargo and passenger carriers on Monday warned the Biden administration there could be "catastrophic disruption" after AT&T and Verizon deploy a new 5G service this week.

Driving the news: They said in a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and other top federal officials ahead of the C-Band 5G service's deployment Wednesday that "the nation's commerce will grind to a halt" and "could potentially strand tens of thousands of Americans overseas."

Updated 3 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.