Monday, June 28th 2021, 12:24 pm - A prolonged 'heat-dome' event is yielding record-shattering temperatures to much of the Western Canada, with parts of B.C. smashing all-time Canadian records. Residents are reminded to exercise caution and help prevent any human-caused wildfires from igniting. Here’s what you need to know.
The intense heat wave that is blanketing Western Canada with dangerously stifling conditions will continue for a few more days. Meteorologists warn that temperatures will be even hotter than those record-setting daytime highs felt on the weekend, with overnight lows even staying above the 20-degree mark.
Since Friday, several all-time and/or monthly highs, as well as dozens of daily records have been broken. One of them was the hottest temperature ever recorded in Canada.
"Lytton became a temporary holder of Canada’s warmest temperature in history on Sunday when the city unofficially hit 46.6°C, but that will likely be surpassed on Monday, potentially at the same station," says Tyler Hamilton, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.
The historic heat is the result of what's colloquially referred to as a heat dome, something more common to the southwestern U.S. It's an area of intense high pressure, beneath which descending air compresses into layers near the surface, warming drastically as it does so.
This heat dome is creating a feedback loop: The warm air gets trapped in the lower elevations, and temperatures can only fall into the 20s at night. The following days can be incrementally toastier.
The good news for sun-lovers is that such features tend to be marked by clear skies, inhibiting the kind of vertical motion that produces clouds. It also keeps out low-pressure systems that can bring rain and thunderstorms. But the downside is that the dry conditions coincide with periods of drought conditions and an elevated fire danger.
See below for a look at the forecast conditions meteorologists are expecting this week.
MONDAY - WEDNESDAY: HISTORIC WARMTH BREAKS RECORDS
Monday morning will be warmer than the average daytime high for the end of June - bottoming out as high as 26 or 27°C. Some schools shut their doors Monday morning because of the extreme heat, with information about Tuesday classes to be released on Monday.
A thermal trough – a thin, weak area of low pressure – tends to develop along the B.C. coast during these heat events, enhancing the offshore flow and allowing the air to further warm as it snakes down from the coastal mountains. The thermal trough will push coastal sections to their warmest temperatures in recorded history.
Many communities have opened cooling centres and other measures to keep the public safe. Power grids are taking significant hits and a lack of rain in the forecast means the fire danger is on the rise.
"Climate change has altered our atmosphere, and I’m forecasting all-time temperature records on Vancouver Island - similar to levels seen in Dubai or Phoenix, Arizona," says Hamilton.
WATCH: WARMEST DAY IN HISTORY COMING TO VANCOUVER ISLAND
Alberta won't quite reach such extreme levels as B.C., but daytime highs in the upper 30s to low 40’s will be widespread and deeply uncomfortable, even when the humidity eases off.
It's likely that the dangerous heat wave will continue into Thursday. The heat will also spread into Saskatchewan, with daytime temperatures pushing the mid-to-upper 30s by Tuesday.
Temperatures will even soar into the low 40’s in sections of the Northwest Territories on Wednesday, a testament to the record-setting nature of this ridge.
For some relief, head down to the Pacific Ocean, but it remains to be seen if the daytime sea-breeze will push very far inland, at all. Your best bet is to be directly in the ocean, or somehow find your way to Prince Rupert.
The extreme heat should be taken seriously as it could harm your health and cause heat-related illnesses.
“Heat-related illness is the result of your body gaining heat faster than it can cool itself down,” states HealthLink BC on their website. “Those at increased risk for heat-related illness include: infants and children, people 65 years of age or older, and people who do a lot of physical activity or work in a hot environment. In most cases, heat-related illnesses are preventable.”
Heat stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency. Call 9-1-1 or other emergency medical services as soon as you suspect or see the signs of heat stroke in an individual. Click here to learn more about heat stroke.
Heat stroke shares some symptoms with heat exhaustion, but the most acute to watch out for (according to Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety) are:
- Hot, dry skin or profuse sweating
- Loss of consciousness
- Very high body temperature
Heat stroke can follow on from untreated heat exhaustion, or can happen without little or no warning. To learn more about how extreme heat can impact the human body, click here.