Last July

Last July

Heat wave hits us next week

Starting July 1, the region could see temperatures in the mid to high 30s, warns Environment Canada

The phrase “come hell or high water”, adopted by the Calgary Stampede in the past week, may prove to be even more true for the East Kootenay.

Environment Canada meteorologists are predicting that beginning on Canada Day, temperatures throughout the region will sit around the mid-30s, and perhaps reach the high-30s.

“And that’s probably a bit conservative,” said B.C. meteorologist Doug Lundquist.

“We are seeing above us the warmest air at least in our part of the planet if not the whole planet.”

The heat wave will come about as B.C.’s monsoon season, which has buffeted the East Kootenay with extreme rain and flooding over the past week, finishes up this weekend, a little earlier than in normal years.

“This year we are going to be lucky and we will see the whole monsoon season end about a week earlier than normal,” said Lundquist. “When we do so, it’s normally like a switch flipping.

“There are some potential flies in the ointment, like high level cloud, the fact that the ground has been cool and wet for a little bit, that might mute it a little bit. But certainly I expect we will see record breaking temperatures.”

Now Environment Canada is reminding people how to be careful during extreme summer weather, with the key risks being lightning, wind, heat and rain.

“One of the concerns in the hot weather is staying hydrated. We don’t get a lot of humidity in the B.C. interior but we have dry air and in the heat we can dry out very quickly. So staying hydrated is very important during hot spells in the summer,” said Lundquist.

Conditions inside parked cars can become unbearable in only a moment, he went on.

“Don’t leave children and pets in parked cars even for a moment,” said Lundquist.

If you have neighbours or relatives who live alone, especially if they don’t have air conditioning, check on them regularly.

When there is a lightning storm, head inside as soon as you can hear thunder.

“Remember the little saying, when thunder roars, go indoors. If you can hear thunder, the storm is close enough that it can be dangerous. It’s best to seek shelter and remain indoors for a full 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder,” said Lundquist.

Most people who are hurt or killed by lightning are not struck directly. About 40 to 50 per cent of people killed are through ground contact with the current.

Two-thirds of lightning victims are struck either ahead of the storm or after they think it has passed.

If you can’t get inside, take shelter in the lowest possible area, such as a ravine or ditch, not under an isolated tree in a field. Keep your feet together and stay low.

The B.C. interior can experience a weather phenomenon called a microburst after a summer storm. This is what caused Cranbrook’s severe wind storm last July when wind speeds reached 107 kilometres an hour.

When it’s windy, the safest place is in a well constructed building, in a basement, away from windows and with as many walls between you and outside as possible. Don’t go outside to try to save an awning or carport, for example.

“People have been killed because they decided to go outside and try to save their overhangs or awnings and it blows away and hits them in the process,” said Lundquist.

Finally, we are still at risk from wildfires, despite the flooding we have experienced this month.

“Wildfires and smoke are another issue. We will start to see that very quickly after the heat starts to come. It won’t take too long and the fire fuels will dry out and create a weather situation that will be concerning the B.C. Forest Service,” said Lundquist.

For more details on severe weather, visit www.weather.gc.ca.

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