B.C. heat wave update for Jun 27: Fraser Health moves vaccination clinics indoors | Metro Vancouver issues poor air quality advisory | B.C. Hydro reports extreme energy demand

Here’s a roundup of the latest news concerning what Environment and Climate Change Canada is calling a “dangerous long duration heat wave.”

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Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley are in for a potentially record-breaking heat wave this weekend, with temperatures expected to hit the high 30s and even into the 40s in some areas.

It’s unprecedented hot weather for this region.

Authorities are urging residents to drink lots of water and check on elderly neighbours, and of course never leave a child or a pet in a parked car.

Here’s a roundup of the latest news concerning what Environment and Climate Change Canada is calling a “dangerous long duration heat wave.”


Read more:

Temperature records broken during heat wave in B.C. on Monday

Environment Canada issues heat warnings, says record-high temperatures loom for B.C.

B.C. Hydro says it will weather heat wave, customers won’t see outages like in some U.S. states

Extreme ‘dome of heat’ to descend on Metro Vancouver this weekend


LATEST NEWS on B.C.’s heat wave

SATURDAY

8:45 p.m. Fraser Health shifts vaccination clinics indoors

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Because of the excessive heat in the coming days, Fraser Health has taken the precaution of changing venues for those vaccination clinics that were to have been held outdoors.

Beginning Sunday, anyone going for testing or an immunization after noon will be redirected to a cooler indoor venue. The switches will be in place through Monday, at which point Fraser Health will provide an update on the situation.

Here’s a list of the affected clinics and the alternative locations:

• Burnaby COVID-19 Testing and Immunization Centre: Visit Christine Sinclair Community Centre instead

• Mission COVID-19 Testing and Immunization Centre: Visit Chilliwack Mall instead

• South Surrey COVID-19 Testing and Immunization Centre: Visit South Surrey Recreation Centre instead

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• Coquitlam COVID-19 Testing and Immunization Centre: Visit Haney Place Mall instead

• Langley COVID-19 Testing and Immunization Centre: Visit Langley Events Centre instead

• Surrey 66 COVID-19 Testing and Immunization Centre: Visit Cloverdale Recreation Centre instead

• Abbotsford Ag-Rec Centre Immunization Clinic: Visit Gateway Church instead.

5:45 p.m. The City of Maple Ridge has opened a cooling centre for temporary relief from the heat

The City of Maple Ridge has temporarily opened the Greg Moore Youth Centre as a cooling centre to provide residents with relief from the heat.

The centre is located at 11925 Haney Place in Maple Ridge with the entrance opposite to the north entrance of Haney Place Mall and will remain open until Monday. Additional days may be added as this weather system moves through the region.

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This site will be staffed by City employees, Emergency Support Services volunteers and security personnel who will be providing guests to the facility with bottled water, washroom access and seating to provide some comfort from the heat.

The city will continue the spray parks that were activated on the May long weekend in its two largest parks, Maple Ridge Park and Albion Sports Complex. Small water spray features will also be located at some other parks. The City’s Parks teams have also reactivated the water fountains in downtown parks, which were previously closed down due to COVID-19 protocols.

3:30 p.m. Metro Vancouver issues poor air quality advisory

Metro Vancouver has issued an air quality advisory for eastern Metro Vancouver and the central Fraser Valley because of high concentrations of ground-level ozone.

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High concentrations are expected to persist for a few days during the hot and sunny weather. The current weather forecast indicates extremely hot temperatures through at least Monday, the region said.

Metro said ground-level ozone is not emitted directly into the air. It is formed when nitrogen oxides (pollutants emitted when fuels are burned) and volatile organic compounds (emitted from solvents and other sources) react in the air in the presence of sunlight.

The highest levels of ground-level ozone are generally observed between mid-afternoon and early evening on summer days.

Residents are advised to avoid strenuous outdoor activities during mid-afternoon to early evening, when ozone levels are highest, especially if breathing feels uncomfortable.

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Exposure is particularly a concern for people with underlying illnesses and for those who are socially marginalized, such as people experiencing homelessness.

1 p.m. – B.C. Hydro says extreme heat causes record energy demand

B.C. Hydro says on Friday night the peak hourly demand record for June — the hour customers use the most power — was broken for a second time this week.

B.C. Hydro expects demand for power to continue to increase this weekend and it will likely peak on Monday – the day when temperatures are expected to hit 40ºC or higher in some parts of the province.

The last summer record was set on August 18, 2020 when peak hourly demand reached about 7,900 megawatts. Monday’s peak hourly demand could reach up to 8,300 megawatts, shattering the previous record, Hydro said.

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B.C. Hydro continues to insist it can meet the additional demand. It has also taken important steps to protect the safety of its customers and employees, including canceling the majority of planned outages as well as suspending disconnections for non-payment.

B.C. Hydro is providing some tips to save energy:

• Closing the drapes and blinds: Shading windows can block out up to 65 per cent of the heat.

• Shutting doors and windows: If the temperature outside is warmer than inside, keep doors and windows closed to keep the cooler air in and the warm air out.

• Using a fan: Running a fan nine hours a day over the summer costs just $7.

• Being a star: Purchase an Energy Star air conditioner as they use about 30 to 40 per cent less power than standard units.

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• Opting for smaller appliances: Use a microwave, crockpot or toaster oven to avoid the extra heat produced by larger appliances when preparing meals.

11:30 a.m. – Mission School District closes schools on Monday because of heat wave.

Mission schools will be closed on Monday because of the heat wave, as temperatures around 40 C are expected. The school district said it will reopen on Tuesday.

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11 a.m. – Fraser Health rebooks vaccines because of heat wave

Due to the extreme heat wave that is currently affecting Abbotsford and other areas of B.C., Fraser Health is rebooking COVID-19 vaccine appointments at the Abbotsford Ag-Rec Centre that were scheduled for 1 p.m. or later today.

The heat wave is causing elevated internal temperatures in the clinic and, as a result, Fraser Health says it has made the decision to rebook these appointments to protect the health and safety of staff and clients.

People who have been affected by this temporary measure are asked to call 1-833-838-2323 to rebook their appointment.

Alternatively, people may walk-in to another location.

9:30 a.m. – Heat dome primer

Environment Canada meteorologist Bobby Sekhon explains the phenomenon and what to expect in British Columbia.

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What is a heat dome?

A heat dome is caused by a strong ridge of high pressure that traps warm air underneath it. Although not a term commonly used by Environment Canada scientists, the heat dome gets its name because the ridge acts like a dome, allowing the sun to crank up the heat below and create a heat wave that lasts at least a few days.

How often does this happen?

Ridges of high pressure create hot spells in B.C. most years but they typically occur in July or August. Another memorable heat wave occurred in July 2009, when there were several heat-related fatalities and some B.C. weather stations smashed temperatures records. On July 30, 2009, the Vancouver airport set its current local record of 34.4 C.

How significant is this?

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This year’s ridge is much stronger and earlier than usual. The temperatures for this time of year are unprecedented and parts of B.C. are going to set some all-time records, certainly a lot of June records and probably daily maximum records.

Are there particular parts of B.C. you’re keeping an eye on?

The whole province is pretty much under heat warnings, except for parts of the northwest near the Yukon border and some coastal areas like West Vancouver Island up to Haida Gwaii. Some of the hot spots will be places like Lytton, Osoyoos, Port Alberni on Vancouver Island, Chilliwack in the Fraser Valley and Prince George in the north. Environment Canada is forecasting six days of 40-plus temperatures in Kamloops, which has never seen 40 C in June on record.

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How does a heat dome go away?

Eventually there will be a ridge breakdown, when the province transitions to cooler weather. Usually that is accompanied with thunderstorms because of built-up energy from the heat. Once the province gets some destabilization of the atmosphere and some troughs coming in, that usually kick-starts some convection and thunderstorms. If accompanying rain showers are limited, that can create a high risk of wildfires.

— Canadian Press

7 a.m. – Unusual heat wave will set records in Pacific Northwest

Heavy rain in China, an expanse of warm water stretching across the North Pacific, and kinks in the jet stream are combining to drive an unusual heat wave that will set records in the Pacific Northwest.

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Seattle and Portland may post their hottest June days in history, while heat warnings are posted in Canada as far north as the Arctic Circle. The dangerously hot temperatures raise wildfire risk, may worsen air pollution, and pose public health threats in a region where many don’t have air conditioning.

The warmth is building under a so-called heat dome that may have been exacerbated by climate change. It’s similar to the weather pattern earlier this month that led to a California heat wave, according to Jeff Masters, a meteorologist with Yale Climate Connections. Kinks in the jet stream have pinned summer weather in place leading to prolonged heat waves and drought, as well as storminess and flooding.

“The unusual waviness of the jet stream was associated with a pattern we have been seeing more often in summer, which has been connected to human-caused climate change,” Masters said.

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The current heat wave over the Northwest started with flooding rains across China on June 23, said Masters. That fed energy into the jet stream across the North Pacific, making it stronger than usual and setting off a chain reaction of weather patterns that led to the high pressure ridge building over western North America and driving temperatures up in the U.S. and Canada.

The heat, as well as the conditions that have caused widespread drought across the U.S. West, may have been made worse by warm water stretching across the North Pacific, as well as parts of the Bering and Chukchi seas near Alaska, said Jennifer Francis, a senior scientist at the Woodwell Climate Center. That pattern may have been exacerbated by less sea ice in the Arctic this year, a situation made worse in recent decades by climate change.

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The worst heat will center on the Northwest and then seep east into Idaho by Monday, though California will also see oppressive conditions. The Golden State’s power grid manager said it’s closely watching the situation. Excessive heat warnings cover areas east of Los Angeles, where temperatures could reach 110 F (43ºC) Sunday and Monday, and other parts of the state.

– Bloomberg


FRIDAY

5:30 p.m. – COVID-19 protocols takes back seat during a heat wave

B.C. medical health officers say people should be able to access cooling centres during the ongoing heat wave, even if there are concerns about crowding or physical distancing.

They also said people wearing masks who have difficulty breathing should remove the mask, whether indoors or outdoors.

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High temperatures are associated with an increase in deaths in the Lower Mainland, said Vancouver Coastal Health, Fraser Health, and Interior Health.

Especially vulnerable are the young, elderly, those working or exercising in the heat. People with chronic heart and lung conditions, people with mental illness, people living alone, and homeless people are also at high risk.

3:30 p.m. – Environment Canada issues heat warning across B.C. 

Environment Canada issued a slew of heat warnings across B.C. including Metro Vancouver due to a “dangerous long duration heat wave” starting Friday until at least Tuesday.

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Record-breaking temperatures are likely, with daytime highs expected to hit 29 to 38 C. There will be little respite at night as overnight lows will only dip down to 18 to 21 C.

With humidity, it could feel like the high 30’s and low 40’s, warned the federal weather agency.

2:30 p.m. – English Bay beach closed to swimmers due to high E. coli levels

If you’re looking to cool down from the heatwave with a dip in the ocean, don’t do it at English Bay beach.

The popular downtown Vancouver beach is temporarily off limits to swimmers Friday afternoon after high levels of E. coli was found in the water.

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Swimming in waters with high levels of the bacteria may increase the risk of gastrointestinal illness and skin and eye infections, said Vancouver Coastal Health.

— Cheryl Chan

8:20 a.m. – Here are 15 ways to beat the heat and stay cool

It’s finally summer, and B.C. is kicking it off with a long-lasting heat wave expected to hit Friday and linger until next week.

Temperatures are forecast to hit highs of 29 to 38ºC. With humidity, it could feel like the low 40s.

Such extreme heat isn’t something we’re used to. But don’t sweat it. Here are some heat wave hacks to help you cool down when the temperature rises.

— Cheryl Chan

8 a.m. – B.C.’s Ministry of Public Safety issues tips to stay safe, cool during extreme heat wave

British Columbians are being asked to take precautions this weekend, as Environment Canada predicts a dangerous, long heat wave beginning Friday and lasting until at least Wednesday.

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HealthLink BC has these tips for keeping cool and healthy:

• Never leave children alone in a parked car. Temperatures can rise to 52ºC within 20 minutes inside a vehicle when the outside temperature is 34ºC. Leaving the car windows slightly open will not keep the inside of the vehicle at a safe temperature.

• Drink plenty of fluids. Drink extra water even before you feel thirsty and if you are active on a hot day. Ask your health-care provider about how much water you should drink on hot days if you are on water pills or limiting your fluid intake.

• Keep cool. Stay indoors in air-conditioned buildings or take a cool bath or shower. At temperatures above 30ºC, fans alone may not be able to prevent heat-related illness. Sunscreen will protect against the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays, but not from the heat.

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• Plan activity before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m., when the sun’s UV radiation is the weakest.

• Avoid tiring work or exercise in hot, humid environments. If you must work or exercise, drink two to four glasses of non-alcoholic fluids each hour. Rest breaks are important and should be taken in the shade.

• Avoid sunburn. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher on exposed skin and an SPF 30 lip balm, and reapply often.

• Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose-fitting clothing and a wide brimmed hat, or use an umbrella for shade.

• Regularly check older adults, children and others for signs of heat-related illness, and make sure they are keeping cool and drinking plenty of fluids.

• Check on those who are unable to leave their homes and people with emotional or mental-health challenges whose judgment may be impaired.

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• Heat also affects pets. Never leave a pet in a parked car. Limit pets’ exercise, and be sure to provide them with plenty of water and shade.

Home treatment for mild heat exhaustion may include: Moving to a cooler environment; drinking plenty of cool, non-alcoholic fluids; resting; and taking a cool shower or bath.

If symptoms are not mild, last longer than one hour, change, worsen or cause concern, contact a health-care provider.

Elevated heat also increases the risk of wildfire, and British Columbians are being urged to do their part to prevent human-caused wildfires and help keep communities safe. To report a wildfire, unattended campfire or open burning violation, call 1 800 663-5555 toll-free or *5555 on a cellphone.

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8 a.m. – B.C. Ferries reminds travellers to bring water

B.C. Ferries is reminding travellers this weekend to bring extra water because of the heat wave.

B.C. Ferries anticipates higher volumes of traffic, and the terminal is unable to offer facilities while waiting to enter the ticket booth.

THURSDAY

Environment Canada issues heat warnings, says record-high temperatures loom for B.C.

Jeremy Cain spent Thursday overseeing a team of outreach workers in Kamloops in a race against an impending heat wave that he worries will put the city’s already vulnerable community members at even greater risk.

Their cars are loaded with water bottles and sunscreen that they plan to distribute around the city over the next week with temperatures set to soar to 40 C and beyond by Saturday as part of a near-provincewide heat wave.

“I’ve lived in this community my whole life and the temperatures they’re calling for are alarming to any person in the general public, these are extreme temperatures where anyone can come to harm,” said Cain, who is director of outreach and clinical support services for the ASK Wellness Society.

— The Canadian Press


TOO HOT TO TWEET

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