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People rest at the Oregon Convention Center cooling station in Oregon, Portland on June 28, as a heatwave moves over much of the United States. Photo: Kathryn Elsesser/AFP via Getty Images

The worst heat wave on record in the Pacific Northwest has resulted in more than 1,100 people going to the hospital for possible heat-related illness as of Tuesday, BuzzFeed reports.

Why it matters: Despite reaching an unprecedented peak on Monday, this event is not finished, given continued record-high temperatures in areas further away from the coast. Extreme heat threatens lives, ranking as the nation's top weather-related killer annually, according to the National Weather Service.

By the numbers: Since Friday, Washington state hospitals have reported 676 emergency department visits for suspected heat-related illness, per BuzzFeed. Of those, 81 led to inpatient admission.

  • By contrast, total heat-related hospitalizations in Washington have only exceeded 51 twice between 2000 and 2018, state data shows.

Oregon has tallied 459 emergency department or urgent care visits for heat illnesses, with at least 97 occurring in Portland and the surrounding Multnomah County between Friday and Sunday.

  • Normally "it is not unusual for the County to have zero visits for heat illness on a typical summer day," county spokesperson Kate Yeiser told BuzzFeed. But the heat wave has led to a record number of calls to the county's emergency medical services department, Yeiser noted.

Extreme heat has killed more than 11,000 people in the U.S. since 1979, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

  • Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can lead to fever, nausea or vomiting, loss of consciousness and even death.

Between the lines: People in the Pacific Northwest region are not used to heat of this magnitude, which has made this event an acute health risk, Axios' Andrew Freedman writes.

  • The heat event is a direct result of climate change, experts say.
  • "Climate change is a health emergency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions is literally a matter of life and death," Jeff Duchin, a public health officer for Seattle and King County, Washington, said in a statement.

The big picture: The heat wave has also damaged public transit infrastructure and raised the risk of wildfires.

  • The unusual weather pattern, colloquially known as a "heat dome," will continue to yield unusually hot temperatures throughout parts of Canada and Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana in the coming days.

Go deeper... In photos: Roads buckle as record-setting heat wave grips Pacific Northwest

Go deeper

Dangerous Pacific Northwest heat wave shifts inland

NASA computer model image showing the unusual heat in the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. (NASA Earth Obseravtory)

After reaching an unprecedented peak, the ferocious heat wave in the Pacific Northwest is retreating inland on Tuesday, sparing some of the biggest cities, including Seattle, from another day of record-breaking heat.

Why it matters: The worst heat wave on record in the Pacific Northwest has had a wide range of impacts, from damaging public transit infrastructure — rails failed and roads buckled — to public health issues. This event is not over, given the continued record high temperatures in areas further away from the coast.

Pacific Northwest heat wave reaches astonishing peak on Monday

Map showing much hotter than normal conditions across the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia on June 27. Credit: Weathermodels.com

The extraordinary heat wave that's stifling the Pacific Northwest reached its peak in many areas on Monday. Seattle smashed its all-time high-temperature record, set just the day before, by 4°F.

Why it matters: After two days of oppressive heat and little relief at night, the extreme weather event, boosted by global warming, is moving into a more dangerous phase.

Northwest "heat dome" signals global warming's march

Residents gather in a public cooling shelter set up at the Oregon Convention Center during a heat wave in Portland on June 26, 2021. (Maranie Staab/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The dangerous heat wave enveloping the Pacific Northwest is shattering weather records by such large margins that it is making even climate scientists uneasy.

Why it matters: Infrastructure, including heating and cooling, is built according to expectations of a "normal" climate. Human-caused climate change is quickly redefining that normal, while dramatically raising the likelihood of events that simply have no precedent.