Alberta to endure 'exceptional' heat wave for at least a week

Environment Canada is warning Albertans to brace for an extended heat wave that is about to descend on virtually the entire province and last for days — if not weeks.

Environment Canada is forecasting temperatures as high as 38 C in some parts of province

Intense heat is expected throughout Alberta for days, if not weeks, Environment Canada forecasts. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

Environment Canada is warning Albertans to brace for an extended heat wave that is about to descend on virtually the entire province and last for days — if not weeks.

"These actually, for some places, could very well be record-breaking temperatures," senior Environment Canada climatologist David Phillips said Monday.

"This is clearly exceptional."

Heat warnings are already in effect in southeastern Alberta, including for the city of Medicine Hat, where temperatures are forecast to reach 32 C on Tuesday and 38 C by Saturday.

"This is forecast to be an unusually long-duration, high-temperature event and is currently expected to last for longer than a week," Environment Canada warned.

Phillips said the intense sun and heat is expected to touch nearly every corner of Alberta in early July.

"What impresses me about this particular heat wave … is that it's provincewide," he said.

"From High River to High Level, my gosh, from Fort McMurray to Fort Macleod — everybody is going to be in it."

Hotter than last summer

This summer is already shaping up to be much hotter than last year, Phillips noted.

"Last year, just to give you an example, Edmonton had no days above 30 C and they could see three this week," he said.

"Calgary had one day last year that got above 30 C. They've already had that in June and now they're going to see a whole spate of these in July."

Rafters and paddleboarders make their way down the Bow River in Calgary on a sunny Monday afternoon. (Robson Fletcher/CBC)

While heat like this isn't unheard of in Alberta in the summer, it usually arrives later in the season.

"It's come a month before what we call the dog days of summer, which typically come toward the end of July and the beginning of August," Phillips said.

"This could very well be the pattern we're going to see for the rest of the summer," he added.

"Not as intensely and torridly warm as this — that would be quite something — but certainly our models seem to suggest, and so do the Americans', that we're in for, clearly, a warmer than normal summer."

Heat safety advice

During heat waves like this, Environment Canada advises people to take precautions to protect themselves and their loved ones, such as:

  • Consider rescheduling outdoor activities to cooler hours of the day.
  • Take frequent breaks from the heat, spending time outdoors at your house or at cooled public buildings (including malls or indoor pools).
  • Drink plenty of water and other non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages to stay hydrated.
  • Do not leave any person or pet inside a closed vehicle, for any length of time.

Alberta Health Services also recommends keeping an eye out for symptoms of heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

Those symptoms include high body temperature, lack of sweat, confusion, fainting, and unconsciousness.

Public health officials urge extra vigilance in monitoring people who are particularly vulnerable to the heat, including children, seniors, outdoor workers, people who are socially isolated and people with pre-existing lung, heart, kidney, nervous system, mental health or diabetic conditions.

More information is available at www.ahs.ca/heat.

With files from Dan McGarvey