Friday, July 22nd 2022, 8:53 pm - We could be looking at British Columbia's hottest stretch of the summer to date next week. Here’s what you need to know now to prepare.
With the midway point of summer not far off, B.C. is in for an extended period of heat next week, possibly its hottest of the season so far. High temperatures are expected to be felt in communities from the coast to the Interior. The hot weather may pose a health risk to vulnerable populations, has already led to the growth of the Nohomin Creek wildfire and may spark new blazes in the coming days. More on what to expect next week, below.
Next week: A building ridge allows the heat to crank up
We’re looking ahead to the potential for an impactful heat event across British Columbia next week.
A strong upper-level ridge will build over the Gulf of Alaska early next week, stretching all the way north into the Arctic Circle.
Ridges foster sinking air, which heats up and dries out as it descends to the surface. This kind of setup will allow for a stretch of hot and dry weather for much of B.C. through the final week of July.
Currently, forecast models show the ridge building just offshore, which will allow coastal communities to get in on the excessive heat at times.
High temperatures could reach 30°C or warmer in Vancouver, which is a tough feat for the coastal city in many cases. For some perspective, Vancouver’s seasonal high for the last week of July is around 23°C. The heat could feel more like the mid-30s early next week.
Heat looks to continue heading into the final weekend of July, with temperatures potentially reaching the 40-degree mark for parts of the southern Interior.
The heat is going to feel especially rough after a relatively temperate and wet couple of months across B.C. An active pattern brought one storm system after another to the province, keeping things on the cooler and wetter side.
Temperatures over the past 60 days have come in around or below seasonal for much of the province. Most areas around the province have seen near- to above-seasonal precipitation over the past couple of months, as well.
WATCH: Poor air quality due to wildfires persist in parts of Canada
Existing wildfire grows, possibility of new blazes with conditions
Steady and consistent rain over the past couple of months increased the amount of growth and foliage across B.C. This growth can be a liability as conditions heat up and dry out, potentially serving as fuel for new wildfires that spark up during and after the heat wave.
An existing blaze is already spreading as a result of the anticipated warming and drying trend. The parched conditions, combined with an extremely steep terrain of the Fraser Canyon, have caused the Nohomin Creek wildfire to grow in size this week, and may continue to do so in the days ahead. As of Friday night, the fire size is 2,223 hectares, according to the BC Wildfire Service.
The anticipated warming and drying trend, in combination with the extremely steep terrain, has influenced fire behaviour on the Nohomin Creek wildfire (K70580). pic.twitter.com/DK2H3s1VvE
The anticipated warming and drying trend, in combination with the extremely steep terrain, has influenced fire behaviour on the Nohomin Creek wildfire (K70580). BC Wildfire Service on Twitter: "The anticipated warming and drying trend, in combination with the extremely steep terrain, has influenced fire behaviour on the Nohomin Creek wildfire (K70580). pic.twitter.com/DK2H3s1VvE / Twitter"— BC Wildfire Service (@BCGovFireInfo) BC Wildfire Service on Twitter: "The anticipated warming and drying trend, in combination with the extremely steep terrain, has influenced fire behaviour on the Nohomin Creek wildfire (K70580). pic.twitter.com/DK2H3s1VvE / Twitter"
As a result of the wildfire, air quality is poor in nearby communities due to the smoke. Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has issued a special air quality statement for Fraser Canyon including Lillooet and Lytton.
Lytton First Nation Reserves issued an evacuation order on July 14. Thompson Nicola Regional District issued an evacuation order and alert, and declared a local state of emergency for the Blue Sky Country region last week.
Residents will have to closely monitor wildfire news and prepare for potential evacuations if local officials issue any advisories or orders.
A few simple steps you can take now to prepare for the threat for wildfires include:
- Create an evacuation plan long before any fires have a chance to spark
- Have a plan for pets and livestock in the event a fire threatens your property
- Assemble a grab-and-go emergency evacuation bag that includes personal necessities and important documents
- Ensure your property is trimmed and clear from debris, and be mindful of combustible materials like outdoor furniture and propane tanks
- Don’t forget masks and respirators for potentially hazardous wildfire smoke
Tips for dealing with the heat
The heat itself can also take a significant toll. Excessive heat is a leading cause of weather-related illnesses and fatalities. The toll of heat is especially tough on vulnerable populations such as low-income households, unhoused people, the elderly, and folks living with health issues.
The effects of a high heat are even worse when the hot temperatures linger for multiple days. Hot days lingering into stifling nights have a compounding effect on homes without air conditioning, leading to an increasing risk for heat-related illnesses as a stretch of hot weather drags on.
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Check back frequently for updates on this potentially impactful heat event across B.C.