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Heat over British Columbia expected to continue through midweek

Heat over British Columbia expected to continue through midweek
Heat over British Columbia expected to continue through midweek

A heat wave caused by a “ridge of high pressure” is expected to last through about midweek across dozens of regions in British Columbia, according to Environment Canada.

The weather bureau issued more than 40 heat warnings for the province on Sunday.

An update will also be provided today on the ongoing “hot weather” conditions across Western Canada.

The warnings in British Columbia cover much of the lower third of the province, the northeastern portion of British Columbia, the interior portions of the central and north coasts, Whistler, the Sunshine Coast, Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, and the eastern and interior portions of Vancouver Island.

According to the weather bureau, some heat warnings are expected to be lifted on Tuesday, particularly along the coast and in eastern and interior Vancouver Island. However, the heat could linger longer in other regions.

According to weather forecasts, temperatures in the southern inland will rise to around 40 degrees Celsius this week, before dropping again on Thursday.

The extreme heat of the past weekend and a warning from Environment Canada failed to deter some beachgoers and outdoor enthusiasts in Vancouver.

One of them is cyclist Anthony Maw, who stopped at the causeway at Kitsilano Beach to buy some lemonade from two 12-year-old girls who were taking advantage of the high temperatures to earn some extra pocket money.

“I don’t mind supporting local products,” he joked in an interview.

Maw said he had started his bike ride at Queen Elizabeth Park in the city and planned to cycle along the city’s causeway to Spanish Banks Beach.

“The water actually makes the temperature drop quite a bit,” he said, explaining why he decided to stay on the path along the coastline.

He stopped halfway through his ride to drink some lemonade to keep himself hydrated, but he said he enjoyed the warmth.

“This is the best time of year to be in Vancouver and, honestly, to be alive. Six months from now, you’ll be longing for the warmth again,” Maw said, laughing.

Environment Canada said the elevated temperatures pose a risk to public health, and encouraged the country to take precautions to minimize exposure.

Beachgoer Sarah Adair said she and her friends originally planned to spend the afternoon at Kitsilano Beach.

“I wish I had an umbrella,” she said in an interview.

“We were probably on the beach for about 20 minutes and it was getting pretty unbearable in the heat.”

So, Adair said, they quickly moved to a nearby patch of grass where they sat in the shade of a tree. She noted that they also stayed hydrated by drinking plenty of water and avoiding alcohol.

The City of Vancouver announced in a press release Saturday that cooling centres have been opened in libraries and community centres, and residents were reminded of the more than 200 permanent water fountains available free of charge throughout the city.

The city also asked residents to pay attention to vulnerable people, such as the elderly, people who live alone, people with existing health conditions or mental illnesses, including substance abuse, and people who are homeless or have limited mobility.

“Guidelines from health partners indicate that it may be unsafe for some people at higher risk of heat illness to spend time in indoor temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit,” the release said. “Risk may increase significantly when indoor temperatures are above 88 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Jill Sartore, a Vancouver resident who also sat in the shade on a patch of grass in the Kitsilano neighborhood, said she was avoiding the sun after braving the heat at a street festival on Saturday.

“I think yesterday it felt warmer because we were sitting on the sidewalk, but today we’re just sitting in the shade (and) I love it,” she said enthusiastically. “But I have a roof and I can’t go on it today. It’s too hot.”

She said she is concerned about the potential impact of the heat on wildfires in the province.

“If it doesn’t rain, are we going to burn down? That’s a little bit of a concern,” she said.

The BC Wildfire Service said in its situation report on Sunday that “well above season temperatures” are expected to persist throughout the week.

“This warming, drying trend will continue to increase the likelihood of increased wildfire activity,” the report said.

But, the report noted, the weather reduces the risk of lightning strikes that can start fires.

Of the nearly 100 active wildfires raging in the province on Sunday, 78 percent were caused by lightning and 22 percent by humans.

READ ALSO: Employers reminded to protect their workers from heat-related illness