British Columbia

B.C. heat wave shatters Canadian record for highest temperature ever recorded

Canada's new record high temperature was recorded Sunday in Lytton, B.C., with a reading of 46.6 C. The previous record high temperature was 45 C, set in Saskatchewan in July 1937.

Previous record high temperature for the country was set in Saskatchewan in July 1937

People are pictured at Vancouver's Spanish Banks on Friday. A heat wave shattered temperature records across the province over the weekend. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

UPDATE, June 28, 2021: 'Prolonged, dangerous and historic' heat wave bakes much of Western Canada


A B.C. heat wave is shattering temperature records and meteorologists expect the weather to get even hotter over the next couple of days. 

Lytton, B.C., broke the record Sunday afternoon for the hottest temperature ever recorded in Canada with a measurement of 46.6 C, according to Environment Canada. 

The previous record high temperature for the country was 45 C, set in Saskatchewan in July 1937.

Environment Canada first said the new record in Lytton on Sunday was 46.1 C, but later revised that to 46.6 C.

Other notable highs include the Fraser Valley, which broke 40 C at Cultus Lake for the first time Saturday.

In the Cache Creek area, temperatures soared to 42.5 C Saturday, and Lillooet set a new record at 43.1 C.

Temperatures in the Pemberton Valley are so high an evacuation order has been issued because of rising river levels caused by snowmelt. 

Heat peak on Monday

CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe says the worst is yet to come. Forecasters expect the Lower Mainland to reach temperatures as high as 45 C on Monday, when the heat wave is expected to peak. 

Wagstaffe says Abbotsford, in the Fraser Valley, will be the city to watch on Monday as the humidex will make it feel as hot as 50 C. 

Watch: B.C. residents react to the record-high temperatures:

People across B.C.'s Lower Mainland react to record-high temperatures

3 months ago
0:36
Lytton, B.C., broke the record Sunday afternoon for the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada with a measurement of 46.6 C. 0:36

Environment Canada meteorologist Derek Lee expects more records to be broken Monday, including in Lytton, where the community could break its own Canada-wide record.

"So you thought yesterday was hot out? Tomorrow might be even hotter," Lee said. 

"I know a lot of people probably aren't prepared for the heat, but we still have a few more days to go."

Joseph Shea, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, says an early heat wave in June may have a long-term impact on glaciers.

"One of the things an early heat wave is going to do is reduce the amount of the snowpack and make it much more vulnerable to melt this summer, but also in subsequent summers," he said Monday to Carolina de Ryk, the host of CBC's Daybreak North.

"As you melt away the first layer, then you expose the ice," he went on. "But with a really intense heat wave, you're going to melt that away too, and really reduce the ability of these glaciers to withstand heat." 

School closures

By late Sunday afternoon, several school districts across the Lower Mainland and on Vancouver Island announced that schools would close for at least Monday.

"The heat that we are experiencing is unprecedented and with this in mind, the District has put plans in place to ensure the health and safety of staff and students," said a letter from Vancouver School Board Superintendent Suzanne Hoffman.

Higher-than-average temperatures in Western Canada will stick around into next week. (CBC News)

The heat is forecast to shift eastward on Tuesday, although temperatures in the Interior will remain over 40 C. Wagstaffe says a provincewide cool down isn't expected until at least July 6. 

B.C.'s West Coast neighbours across the border are also experiencing record-breaking temperatures.

On Saturday, Portland, Ore., hit 42.2 C. The U.S. National Weather Service says it will get as hot as 44.4 C there on Sunday and Monday. 

The "heat dome" that has settled in the Pacific Northwest has made its way to Alberta, where temperatures reached the low 30s on Sunday. Temperatures will likely peak near 40 C in some parts of southern Alberta mid-week, Environment Canada said.

Parts of Saskatchewan, Yukon and the Northwest Territories are also expected to see high temperatures associated with the heat wave.

Cooling centres open

Municipalities and districts across the province have opened cooling centres for those who don't have air conditioning. 

The City of Vancouver has several open at community centres across the city

The City of Vancouver has set up cooling centres throughout the city to help people avoid heat stroke. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The City of Abbotsford said its cooling centres would run from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on days when the temperature exceeds 32 C or 30 C for consecutive days.  

These include: 

  • Heritage Alliance Church at 3440 Mt. Lehman Road.
  • Cascade Community Church at 35190 Delair Road.
  • The Abbotsford, Clearbrook and Mount Lehman libraries. 
  • The Reach Gallery Museum.  

On Sunday, the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations centre said it has opened several cooling centres across the region, including:

  • Parkinson Activity Centre, Kelowna.
  • Rutland Activity Centre, Kelowna.
  • Lakeview Heights Baptist Church, West Kelowna. 
  • Peachland Community Centre, Peachland.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Maryse Zeidler

@MaryseZeidler

Maryse Zeidler is a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver, covering news from across British Columbia. You can reach her at maryse.zeidler@cbc.ca.

With files from Courtney Dickson and Daybreak North

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