Warnings of extreme heat are still in place for much of western Canada as a historic heat wave broke 103 heat records on record across British Columbia, Alberta, Yukon and the NWT moving east.
The “thermal dome” responsible for the unprecedented weather is now settling over the interior of British Columbia and parts of Alberta.
Environment Canada is warning that more records will be shattered inland in British Columbia on Tuesday, after the village of Lytton recorded the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada, 47.9 degrees Celsius, on Monday.
In the Alberta Rockies, a high of 39°C is forecast on Tuesday in Jasper to break the previous record of 35.1°C set this weekend. Mercury is expected to reach 40°C in parts of the province including the Grand Prairie; Edmonton and Calgary will reach 36 degrees Celsius.
The temperature was 38.1 degrees Celsius in the Nahanni Put district, NWT, on Monday, the highest temperature ever recorded in the territory.
Environment Canada has also issued four heat warnings for areas along Manitoba’s western border. Forecasters warn that extreme conditions will persist across the prairie at least through this week and possibly into the next.
Armel Castellane, a meteorologist with the Meteorological Agency, said the number of falling records left him at a loss.
“There is really no exaggeration enough for this,” he said. “We are at a loss as to how much these records have been broken.”
British Columbia’s southern coast is expected to see some relief on Tuesday as sea air flows from the Juan de Fuca Strait and temperatures drop a few degrees. But it remains unreasonably high – nearly 10 degrees Celsius above normal temperatures in late June.
The intense heat, lasting for several days, is not only unpleasant but life-threatening, Castellan said.
“We know this will be a fatal event,” he said.
Older adults, children, outdoor workers, the homeless, and people with pre-existing medical conditions are all at greater risk of heat-related illness and death.
Extreme temperatures in British Columbia led to a spike in 911 calls requiring paramedics over the weekend, according to Emergency Health Services. Between Friday and Monday morning, ambulances responded to 187 calls related to heat exhaustion and 52 calls related to heat stroke.
The danger is exacerbated by the fact that nocturnal troughs do not fall to normal levels, offering no time to rest and recover from the heat.
On Monday, the influx of British Columbians to air conditioning to deal with hot weather sent BC Hydro smashing electricity demand records for a third day in a row.
Climate change linked to extreme weather
Meteorologists who monitor the extreme weather event have largely linked its causes to climate change and global warming.
“We know this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to hot events,” Castellan said. We needed to anticipate this and expect more from it.”
Watch | Meteorologist says heatwave in western Canada is “dangerous and record-breaking”:
He said the ripple effects of an extreme event like this were “tremendous”. Already, hot, dry conditions have pushed the risk of wildfires in western Canada to extreme levels, and extremely rapid snowmelt has also put communities at risk of flash floods.
Environment Canada is calling for a chance of lightning Wednesday night in inland southern British Columbia as evacuation alerts were issued on Monday as bushfires increased to nearly two square kilometres. A countywide campfire ban goes into effect Wednesday noon.
Staying cool in extreme temperatures
Those who live in areas affected by heat wave are advised to take certain precautions to avoid heat-related illnesses, which can sometimes be life-threatening.
Here are some tips for staying safe in extreme temperatures:
- Avoid direct sunlight as much as possible.
- Plan to spend some time in a cool or air-conditioned place, such as a library, mall, or even a movie theater if you can.
- Drink plenty of water, even before you feel thirsty.
- Avoid strenuous activity and exercise.
- Avoid sunburn and apply sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to exposed skin and lip balm with SPF 30
- Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and a wide-brimmed hat, or use an umbrella for shade.