Was last year’s extreme heatwave a fluke? A new study suggests it might’ve been

Good news and bad news about our intense heatwave last summer. There’s a new study that finds the extreme heat was a freak event, something that should only happen once in 10,000 years. However, because of climate change, the heatwave was more severe and hundreds of people died across the PNW, including 96 Oregon residents. The heatwave puzzled climate scientists and led a UCLA asst. professor of climate science to find answers. Karen McKinnon found that the event was just “so extreme even after accounting for climate change” which has added about three degrees to PNW temperatures since 1960. She co-authored a study that analyzed 50 climate model simulations and combined historical weather station data and trends from 1850 through 2100, calling the heatwave “climate change plus bad luck”. Fingers crossed she’s right. 

PNW 2021 heatwave