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Heatwave scorches Canada, can’t reach 2021 heat dome

Heatwave scorches Canada, can’t reach 2021 heat dome
Heatwave scorches Canada, can’t reach 2021 heat dome

Even if records fall, the impact will not touch the ‘anomalous and extreme’ situation 3 years ago

Scorching temperatures from British Columbia to the Ontario border have prompted hundreds of heat warnings. But things aren’t quite that bad in British Columbia’s deadly 2021 heat wave, says a national meteorologist who works on warning preparation.

Jennifer Smith of Environment and Climate Change Canada told a news conference Monday that while the “epicenter” of the heat is in Northern California, the heat is spreading north and east this week, where it is expected to linger.

Another heat wave has now pushed temperatures above freezing in Atlantic Canada.

“Above-normal temperatures developed in southern British Columbia over the weekend. The heat will continue there and spread eastward, affecting Alberta and the southwestern Northwest Territories today, Saskatchewan on Tuesday and spreading into Manitoba on Wednesday,” Smith said.

She said the heatwave will be “significant and impactful” but will not be comparable to the 2021 heatwave, which exceeded heat warning thresholds by “a significant margin”.

“That was a truly anomalous and extreme heatwave,” Smith told the conference. “The highest temperatures forecast for this event are expected to be lower for the areas that experienced the worst heat in 2021.”

However, she noted that the 2021 heat wave did not impact Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

“The current heat wave could break several daily records in the region, but the all-time records must not be jeopardized.”

In British Columbia, temperatures in the southern interior of the province are expected to rise to over 40 degrees Celsius.

The weather bureau says the scorching temperatures in B.C. are being caused by a high pressure system, with heat warnings covering much of the southern part of the province, including Metro Vancouver. More than 20 daily heat records were broken on Sunday.

“High pressure causes air to sink and dry out, decreasing cloud cover and increasing temperatures,” Smith explains.

She warned that the hot and dry conditions increase the risk of wildfires, “particularly where there are existing fires or where there is a shortage of precipitation, such as in northeastern British Columbia, northern Alberta and the Northwest Territories.”

Armel Castellan, another meteorologist with Environment Canada, said British Columbia “is definitely going to see some of the warmest temperatures in the coming days.” He said the weather service is now working with the BC Wildfire Service and will be meeting with emergency management officials in the province to prepare for the risks.

In the Prairies, temperatures are forecast to reach 35 C in some parts of Alberta on Wednesday. Heat warnings were in effect Monday across most of the province and in Saskatchewan, where daily highs in Regina are expected to be around 30 C all week.

In the small community of Fort Liard, in the southwestern corner of the Northwest Territories, temperatures of 30 degrees Celsius are expected through Wednesday, well above the average high of 23 degrees Celsius.

Because this is the first large-scale heat wave of the year in Western Canada, health officials are warning of the risks. Smith said people may not be acclimated to the warm weather yet.

“This warm spell is likely to continue into next week, particularly in southern British Columbia and the Prairie Provinces, although it is too early to make a reliable forecast this far into the future,” she said.

“But with so many outdoor events going on – for example, the Calgary Stampede or the Winnipeg Folk Festival – it is advised to take extra precautions against the heat, drink plenty of water, stay in the shade and regularly check on family members, neighbours and friends in case they need help.”

Smith noted that Ontario is right on the “edge” of the heat wave.

“That ridge will essentially retreat southward as it moves eastward,” she explained. “I would expect to see some warmer temperatures in northwestern Ontario before that ridge moves completely southward and retreats back into the United States.”

Daytime highs of around 30°C are expected across much of Atlantic Canada, with humidex values ​​approaching 40°C in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Meanwhile, the European climate service Copernicus reported that global temperatures in June reached a record high for the 13th consecutive month. The agency said June was also the 12th consecutive month that the world was 1.5C warmer than the pre-industrial average. Most countries agreed to try to limit global warming to 1.5C as part of the 2015 Paris climate accord.

Eastern Canada, which was hit by a severe heat wave in mid-June, is one of the regions where temperatures were most above average.

According to Copernicus, June was also the 15th consecutive month with record high sea surface temperatures.

A strong El Niño weather pattern has helped push global temperatures higher over the past year, the United Nations weather agency said. But the World Meteorological Organization warned last month that the past nine years have been the warmest on record, even with the cooling influence of a multi-year La Niña event.

“The end of El Niño does not mean an end to climate change in the long term, as our planet will continue to warm due to heat-trapping greenhouse gases,” WMO Deputy Secretary-General Ko Barrett said in a statement in June.

Later this week, the remnants of Hurricane Beryl, which wreaked havoc across parts of the Caribbean last week, are expected to reach Ontario and Quebec, bringing rain and a chance of thunderstorms.

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