Temperature tops 40 C for first time in 2023 as B.C. heat wave gets underway

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People sit in the water at Alouette Lake to cool off during the scorching weather of a heatwave in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo:Reuters)


The latest on the heat wave:

  • At least 16 heat records fell Monday.
  • Lytton recorded a high of 41.4 C — the highest temperature anywhere in Canada this year.
  • Environment Canada has issued heat warnings along British Columbia’s South Coast.
  • Several cities in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley have opened up dedicated indoor cooling centres.
  • A repeat of the 2021 heat dome is not in the forecast, but health officials suggest people stay out of the heat, drink plenty of water and limit activity this week.
  • Advocates are calling on municipalities to consider setting a maximum temperature for rental units.

Lytton, B.C. recorded the highest temperature of any city in Canada so far in 2023 when the mercury climbed to 41.4 C Monday afternoon.

It was one of at least 16 daily temperature records to fall across the province as a significant heat wave rolled into the southern half of the province, leading provincial authorities to urge the public to take precautions. Environment Canada has issued heat warnings and special weather statements for much of southern B.C., saying temperatures are expected to hit highs of up to 34 C in the southwest and up to 39 C further east.

The Ministry of Emergency Management has said a repeat of the 2021 heat dome, which claimed more than 600 lives, is not in the forecast but is warning people to take precautions to stay out of the heat, drink water and limit activity. The B.C. government said in a statement Sunday that the the hot weather is expected to last until Saturday.

Heat warnings

Environment Canada is predicting temperatures as high as 39 C in Kamloops, while in Port Alberni temperatures are expected to remain in the low-to-mid 30s all week.

It says Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and Howe Sound will see temperatures reaching 32-37 C between Sunday and Wednesday, with overnight lows near 17 C. Temperatures are expected to cool by a few degrees on Thursday. Eastern Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast are expected to see daytime temperatures of 29-34 C until Wednesday, with overnight lows near 16 C.

A warning issued Sunday for the South Thompson and southern Fraser Canyon regions forecast daytime temperatures of up to 39 C and overnight lows of 18 C.

Separate heat warnings were issued for Kootenay Lake, where temperatures are forecast to climb to 36-38 C between Monday and Thursday, and the North Thompson, where highs of 29 C are expected. Seasonal temperatures are expected to return Friday, the weather agency said.

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How to stay cool

Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal Health say it can take hours for people’s bodies to cool and for physiological strain to decrease after enduring high temperatures.

“Heat can sneak up on us, so I want people to be prepared and be aware and to make sure that we’re doing things that will protect ourselves and looking in on others who are more vulnerable to heat,” B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said Monday.

The province offers the following advice to help beat the heat:

  • Identify cool zones inside your home or nearby, such as a shaded outdoor location or air-conditioned space.
  • Consider spending time in cooler indoor spaces such as libraries, community centres, religious spaces, movie theatres or shopping malls.
  • Shut windows and close curtains or blinds during the heat of the day. Open doors and windows and use fans when it is cooler outside to move cooler air indoors.
  • Cool down by applying cool cloths and drinking plenty of water.

It also calls on people to check in on vulnerable family members and neighbours.

In response to the prolonged heat wave, municipalities throughout B.C. — from Saanich on Vancouver Island to Kamloops in the Central Interior — have opened cooling centres starting Sunday.

A full list and map with cooling centres can be found at EmergencyMapBC, which is maintained by EmergencyInfoBC.


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