Calgary breaks all-time heat record with 36.4 C

Calgary hit a record-high temperature Friday, following a week of blistering temperatures.

Previous record was 36.1 C in 1933

Calgary could be hotter than ever before on Friday. (Jose A. Bernat Bacete/Getty Images)

Calgary hit a record-high temperature Friday, following a week of blistering temperatures.

The mercury hit 36.4 C shortly after 5 p.m., Environment Canada meteorologist Brian Proctor told CBC's The Homestretch.

The record to break was 36.1 C, reached on July 15, 1919, and again on July 25, 1933.

It was still 35 C as of 10 p.m.

Meanwhile, farther south in Medicine Hat, residents were expecting a high of 40 C, Environment Canada said.

Most of Alberta south of Fort McMurray remains under a heat and/or smoke warning.

The heat wave Western Canada is experiencing is typical of heat waves around the world, said David Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada. A high pressure area is lingering over the region, blocking other weather systems from coming in, and, in turn, getting blocked from moving away.

Since May, Calgary has had consistently high temperatures, and that's expected to continue into September.

Smoky skies have created interesting sunsets for Calgarians this week. People have been heading to the Bow River to cool off, and Edworthy Park is a favourite location. (Scott Crowson/CBC)

Extreme heat can cause health problems for many, but certain people are more at risk than others, said Dr. Eddy Lang, Alberta Health Services' Calgary zone emergency medicine head.

"We have to keep in mind that it's young children, toddlers and the elderly that don't have the same mechanisms for releasing heat that young healthy people do," he said. "They're more likely to get into trouble with their body temperatures rising and feeling unwell due to the high heat."

Dr. Eddy Lang says keeping kids cool in pools or sprinklers is a great way to prevent heat stroke. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

He recommends parents keep children in the shade and maybe turn on the sprinkler. Runners should take a break during the hottest hours, and Lang suggested people check if their medications affect how they handle heat. Some can reduce your ability to sweat, for example.

Environment Canada recommends people watch for signs of lack of sweat, confusion, fainting, high body temperature and unconsciousness, which may indicate heat stroke or heat exhaustion. Health Canada also offers a series of tips to help people prepare for and stay cool in heat waves.

Dr. Eddy Lang says people should check their medications don't limit their ability to sweat. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

'All about pacing yourself'

At the Country Hills Golf Course, assistant pro Ryan O'Connell found himself carrying a bag of 14 clubs in the ATB Financial, a PGA Canada tour event. 

"There's no really getting around it," O'Connell said, in an interview on CBC Radio's The Homestretch. "It's a bit of a grind."

He hit the well-stocked refreshment tables at every second hole. As a caddy, he was allowed to wear shorts, although players must wear trousers.

"It's all about pacing yourself, knowing you're going to be out there for five hours," O'Connell said. "No need to pass out on the golf course. That's not good for anything."

Brief break this weekend

This weekend, expect a slight break. A cold front is moving in to provide some "atmospheric air conditioning," Phillips said. Temperatures are predicted to drop to 24 C on Saturday and 19 C on Sunday with some rain.

"People can breathe again and it will be rejoiceful, but then next week ... the pattern we see and the persistence is likely to continue," Phillips said.

Temperatures won't be up in the 30s, but he said they will remain a few degrees above normal into next month.

'Global fever'

The overall temperatures, for both days and nights, appear to be part of a long-term, worldwide trend, Phillips said.

David Phillips is a senior climatologist with Environment Canada. He says Calgary is seeing warmer temperatures overall. (Environment and Climate Change Canada)

"We know the evidence is clear, irrefutable: we're living through warmer times. You stick a thermometer in the planet, it is global fever," he said.

"What we're seeing now in the Northern Hemisphere, in 40 years from now, this is what we'll describe as summer — not unprecedented, not 'oh my god, this is record-breaking.'"

Instead, he said, this kind of warmth will become "the lazy, hazy crazy days of summer."

"We know the trend is upwards and outwards," he said. "Unless an asteroid hits the planet or we get into a very huge active volcanic period where we cool off, I think this is a pattern that we've seen."

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener, Stephen Hunt and the Homestretch.


Sarah Rieger

Former CBC digital reporter

Sarah Rieger worked with the digital team at CBC Calgary from 2017 to 2021. She previously worked at HuffPost Canada.