B.C. saw daytime highs far above average during the province’s first heat wave last weekend, but none of them came close to the unprecedented temperatures recorded at the same time last year, when the heat dome struck.
On Sunday (June 26), Port Alberni hit 33 C, far above the 20.6 C it typically sees in June and 24 C it usually sees in July. Still, it fell nearly six degrees short of the blazing 38.9 C recorded on June 26 last year.
The same could be said in B.C.’s Interior, Fraser Valley and North Coast, according to Environment Canada meteorologist Armel Castellan.
In Kamloops, residents usually experience 25.1 to 28.9 C daily highs in June in July, but saw a piping hot 32.5 C on Sunday. That didn’t come close to the 39.8 C recorded in 2021, however.
Abbotsford hit a daytime high of 32.1 C Sunday, as compared to average June temperatures of 20.8 C and July temperatures of 24 C. In 2021 though, the city saw 39.6 C on the same day.
In Terrace, Sunday saw a 29.6 C high. This was well above June and July averages of 19.1 C and 21.4 C, respectively, but far below the 34.5 C recorded on June 26, 2021.
“Had we had this event a week ago or even a week from now, it probably would have taken a few daily temperatures into the record book,” Castellan said. As it stands, it would take another heat emergency to beat the numbers now on the B.C.’s books.
The weekend temperatures were enough to cause a sharp increase in the number of heat-related calls to BC Emergency Health Services. It says paramedics responded to 27 heat-related patient events on June 25 and 26, compared to an average of one such call on any other weekend. On the same two days during last year’s heat dome, paramedics responded to 205 heat-related calls.
The weekend temperatures also triggered the first heat warnings in B.C. since the province announced a new heat alert system earlier this month. The system relies on historical weather data in each major region of the province, and issues alerts anytime an area is forecast to receive two or more days of abnormal daytime highs and nighttime lows.
This was the case for Sunday and Monday in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and inland areas of the North Coast.
The threshold daily highs and lows for a warning to be issued in each region are: 33 C and 17 C in the Fraser Valley, 29 C and 16 C in the southwest (Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island), 29 C and 13 C in the northwest, 29 C and 14 C in the northeast, and 35 C and 19 C in the southeast (Interior).
Castellan said several regions reached the daytime high thresholds over the weekend, but cooled down enough overnight that heat warnings weren’t issued.
He reiterated the importance of staying hydrated and watching out for symptoms of heat-related illness on especially hot days.
During the 2021 heat dome, 619 died as a result of the heat, the BC Coroners Service determined.