British Columbia

B.C. heat wave day 8: It will get better

"Ridiculously resilient ridge" of high pressure that's held a heat wave and choked the air for weeks on the B.C. South Coast is expected to give up on Wednesday.

13 B.C. temperature records broken Sunday with Lytton hitting 41.4 C and more likely to fall today

While Kitsilano beach is closed, Kits pool and other outdoor pools in Vancouver have extended hours to help people cool down during the heat wave. (Cliff Shim/CBC)

It's Day 8  of heat without a break for B.C.'s South Coast, expected to be the hottest yet in a stretch that's making Vancouver wonder what was so bad about all that rain anyway.

With no precipitation in 20 days, Grassy parks went yellow weeks ago. 

Wildfire smoke has oozed in from near and far, mixing with local stenches near trash cans and alleys.

Vancouver Coastal Health has closed Kitsilano and Sunset beaches in Vancouver to swimming due to high levels of E. coli bacteria. (CBC)

Even the beaches, which normally bring relief with salty sea air, are crying foul: high levels of E. coli prompted health officials to close Kitsilano and Sunset beaches this weekend.

But soon, says Environment Canada, it will actually cool down and clear out, as the "ridiculously resilient ridge" of high pressure that's stagnated the air for weeks is expected to give up on Wednesday.

Hope, B.C., sits under a haze of wildfire smoke on July 30, 2018. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

13 records broken yesterday, more Monday

As expected, the weekend was cooking, and a baker's dozen of temperature records fell across B.C. on Sunday.

Lytton, B.C., was the hottest spot in the province, hitting 41.4 C and breaking a record for July 29 that had been held for nearly a century.

Twelve of the 13 locations were in the Interior, including Prince George, Williams Lake, Mackenzie and Burns Lake. Comox, on Vancouver Island, was the one coastal location that hit a new temperature high for the day, at 32.2 C.

Monday was expected to be a degree or two higher than Sunday, and more records could fall, says meteorologist Matt MacDonald of Environment Canada.

The Lower Mainland's prolonged heat warning — since last Monday, July 23 — hasn't itself broken any records though, says MacDonald, because the system for heat warnings changed in B.C. this year.

It has rivaled the deadly heatwave of 2009 in duration, but not absolute temperature, he said.

That year, the end of July saw temperatures at Abbotsford, B.C. reaching 38 C, whereas this year they've hit 34 C.

Heat warnings continued Monday for many parts of B.C., including Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, Greater Victoria, Whistler, the Sunshine Coast, the Okanagan Valley and elsewhere.

Heat warnings remain in place for much of B.C., including all zones marked in red in this map from July 30. Grey zones are air quality (Environment Canada)

'Stratus surge' Wednesday

After a peak of heat on Monday, Tuesday is expected to cool and then a big change is coming Wednesday in what meteorologists call a "stratus surge," said MacDonald.

"That's when the very cool air that's overlying the Pacific Ocean, where the fog bank sits, is going to surge inland through Juan De Fuca Strait and onshore."

When that happens, skies will turn cloudy and grey.

"It's also going to cut our temperatures by almost 10 degrees Celsius, so a much needed cooling finally on Wednesday," he said.

Going into the long weekend, temperatures are likely to be below seasonal norms, and there may even be a spit of rain before next week, said MacDonald.

"It's been a solid 20 days since we've seen any precipitation and I think a lot of people are yearning for it now."

Thirteen temperature records were broken across the province on Sunday during a prolonged heat wave. (Jon Hernandez/CBC)

Top 5 records broken July 29, 2018

  1. Lytton — 41.4 C
    Old record 40.0, held for 97 years.
  2. Lillooet — 39.8 C
    Old record 39.0, held for 33 years.
  3. Clearwater — 37.1 C
    Old record 36.7, held for 58 years.
  4. Valemount — 36.2 C
    Old record 35.6, held for 84 years.
  5. Blue River — 34.6 C
    Old record 34.1, held for 4 years.

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