Hotter than ‘pretty much anywhere on the planet:’ These charts help put Canada’s deadly heat dome in perspective

For the third day in a row, the Canadian maximum temperature record has been broken in Lytton, B.C. on Tuesday, where a heat dome pushed temperatures to 49.6 C, hotter than most anywhere in the world at this time of year.“You can go and check today’s high in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, or the Middle East, where people would normally think, that’s a pretty hot place. And Lytton was hotter than pretty much anywhere on the planet,” said Geoff Coulson, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada, in an interview on Tuesday. “That makes this number coming from Lytton just so staggeringly surprising, that we’re rivalling places that are like a desert, that people would naturally associate with this kind of heat.”The mercury has been hottest in Lytton, but the town is only one of several in B.C. where record-setting temperatures this week have surpassed the previous maximum temperature record of 45 C set in July of 1937 in Midale and Yellow Grass, Sask.Temperatures soared in the nearby towns of Ashcroft, B.C., which matched Canada’s record on June 27, only to see temperatures creep up to 46.4 C and 48.1 C on Monday and Tuesday respectively. Kamloops also surpassed the record, reaching 45.8 C Monday and 47.3 C on Tuesday. The heat in Lillooet, southwest of Kamloops, measured 45.6 C and 46.8 C on Tuesday.“There’s not hyperbole to really describe how extreme this is,” said Armel Castellan, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada in B.C. “It’s beyond our scientific wildest expectations.”And it’s not just the temperature that Castellan finds surprising.“It’s the longevity or the duration, as well as the frequency, so how often we’re seeing these things,” he said of the heat. “We’re setting records at a more frenetic pace in the last several couple decades, say, compared to what was happening in the first half of the century. And also they’re skewed to being more in the heat department as opposed to the cold department. “Extreme weather is more likely as our atmosphere takes on new characteristics in a changed climate.”The ridge of high pressure causing the heat dome out west “has been so strong, essentially, we’ve never actually seen this thickness of atmosphere at any time of year, let alone in June,” he said.He cautions that the heat could cause illness and more deaths and that residents should watch out for people at risk such as elderly neighbours, infants and children.“We are going to hear about how many heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hospital visits and how many deaths occurred in B.C. and probably Alberta and parts of Saskatchewan,” said Castellan. “That will be a part of this story.”A shortage of rain, combined with the temperatures, is also setting the stage for an earlier wildfire season in the province, said Castellan.June is typically a low pressure system month, said Castellan, and “it’s got a lot of pressure on it because it’s the month where the wildfire people really want to see a few events of rain in the interior, because if we don’t, then it sets the stage for an early wildfire season.”Temperatures in British Columbia are expected to be hotter than normal for the rest of the summer.“For the foreseeable future, our seasonal outlook for June, July, August and even September is for very high probabilities for the southern two thirds of B.C. to stay above seasonal normals,” said Castellan.

Hotter than ‘pretty much anywhere on the planet:’ These charts help put Canada’s deadly heat dome in perspective

For the third day in a row, the Canadian maximum temperature record has been broken in Lytton, B.C. on Tuesday, where a heat dome pushed temperatures to 49.6 C, hotter than most anywhere in the world at this time of year.

“You can go and check today’s high in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, or the Middle East, where people would normally think, that’s a pretty hot place. And Lytton was hotter than pretty much anywhere on the planet,” said Geoff Coulson, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada, in an interview on Tuesday. “That makes this number coming from Lytton just so staggeringly surprising, that we’re rivalling places that are like a desert, that people would naturally associate with this kind of heat.”

The mercury has been hottest in Lytton, but the town is only one of several in B.C. where record-setting temperatures this week have surpassed the previous maximum temperature record of 45 C set in July of 1937 in Midale and Yellow Grass, Sask.

Temperatures soared in the nearby towns of Ashcroft, B.C., which matched Canada’s record on June 27, only to see temperatures creep up to 46.4 C and 48.1 C on Monday and Tuesday respectively. Kamloops also surpassed the record, reaching 45.8 C Monday and 47.3 C on Tuesday. The heat in Lillooet, southwest of Kamloops, measured 45.6 C and 46.8 C on Tuesday.

“There’s not hyperbole to really describe how extreme this is,” said Armel Castellan, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada in B.C. “It’s beyond our scientific wildest expectations.”

And it’s not just the temperature that Castellan finds surprising.

“It’s the longevity or the duration, as well as the frequency, so how often we’re seeing these things,” he said of the heat. “We’re setting records at a more frenetic pace in the last several couple decades, say, compared to what was happening in the first half of the century. And also they’re skewed to being more in the heat department as opposed to the cold department.

“Extreme weather is more likely as our atmosphere takes on new characteristics in a changed climate.”

The ridge of high pressure causing the heat dome out west “has been so strong, essentially, we’ve never actually seen this thickness of atmosphere at any time of year, let alone in June,” he said.

He cautions that the heat could cause illness and more deaths and that residents should watch out for people at risk such as elderly neighbours, infants and children.

“We are going to hear about how many heat exhaustion, heat stroke, hospital visits and how many deaths occurred in B.C. and probably Alberta and parts of Saskatchewan,” said Castellan. “That will be a part of this story.”

A shortage of rain, combined with the temperatures, is also setting the stage for an earlier wildfire season in the province, said Castellan.

June is typically a low pressure system month, said Castellan, and “it’s got a lot of pressure on it because it’s the month where the wildfire people really want to see a few events of rain in the interior, because if we don’t, then it sets the stage for an early wildfire season.”

Temperatures in British Columbia are expected to be hotter than normal for the rest of the summer.

“For the foreseeable future, our seasonal outlook for June, July, August and even September is for very high probabilities for the southern two thirds of B.C. to stay above seasonal normals,” said Castellan.