special weather statement has been issued for a large swath of southern British Columbia with Environment Canada warning of temperatures reaching the mid to upper 30s starting Thursday.  

"A ridge of high pressure will strengthen over B.C. through Sunday, leading to several days of above seasonal temperatures," reads the statement. "Afternoon temperatures will rise a couple degrees each day this week. Overnight conditions will also remain quite warm."

The alert has been issued for the eastern Fraser Valley, Fraser Canyon, Similkameen, Okanagan Valley, Shuswap, North and South Thompson, Nicola, Kootenay Lake, East Kootenay, Elk Valley and Arrow Lake-Slocan Lake districts. 

Concerns over heat related illnesses will increase along with the temperature. 

"Those most vulnerable ... include young children, the elderly who are housebound in un-air-conditioned homes, those working or exercising in the heat, persons with chronic illnesses, heart and lung conditions, people living alone in un-air-conditioned homes and the homeless," reads the alert. 

The heat wave is also expected to increase the fire danger rating across the area.