Environment Canada issues heat wave warning

Temperature forecast to reach 33 C on Saturday and Sunday as heat wave descends over B.C.

A swimmer dives into the water at Albert Dyck Park earlier this week.

A swimmer dives into the water at Albert Dyck Park earlier this week.

The hot weather that is drying out the Lower Mainland’s normally lush vegetation will ramp up again this weekend and has prompted Environment Canada to issue a “special weather statement” for the Fraser Valley.

Meteorologists are forecasting sweltering temperatures that could break records and exacerbate regional water worries.

The mercury is expected to hit 32 C on Friday and peak around 33 C on Saturday and Sunday, according to Environment Canada, while other forecasts say it could go as high as 35 C over the weekend.

The record for June 27 is 31.1 C. Sunday’s all-time high is 32.4 C and the temperature must reach 33.3 C on Monday to break a 66-year-old mark.

The Environment Canada statement says: “High temperatures will increase the risk of heat-related illnesses.”

It continues “An exceptionally strong ridge of high pressure will build over Western Canada today and Saturday allowing hot air to invade Southern British Columbia. Over the South Coast, daily highs are expected to reach the high twenties near the water and up to the mid-thirties further inland. The highest temperatures are expected Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Several daily temperature records are likely to fall with the possibility of monthly records falling come the end of June.

“A weak weather disturbance moving onshore Sunday evening will bring the chance of thunderstorms over the South Coast. High cloud ahead of the system may decrease the temperatures slightly Sunday afternoon. A slight cooling trend will begin Monday however the unseasonably hot weather will persist through Canada day.”

While the heat is not unheard of in late June, the fact that it has followed months with little to no rain and a warm winter has officials concerned about water levels through the fall and heading into next year.

The conditions have also dried out grass on highway medians and mulch along area roads, with fire crews responding to three or four small fires a day, said Abbotsford Fire Rescue Services assistant chief Craig Bird.

“With our projected weather conditions, our drying-out phase is going to continue and the biggest obstacle we run into is people throwing cigarette butts out windows,” he said. Bird also warned people from extinguishing cigarettes in potted plants, where they can flare to life.

He said the department attends one or two house fires each year that start in hedges adjacent to homes.

As camping season ramps up, the province announced Thursday afternoon that a campfire-ban would come into effect over the weekend in the southwestern portion of the province.

Environment Canada meteorologist Andre Besson attributed the “exceptional” weather and record-dry conditions to a “blob of warm water” over the eastern Pacific Ocean that has affected weather conditions on North America’s west coast.

Abbotsford remains at Stage 2 of its water conservation measures, with watering of lawns limited to two days a week between 6 and 8 a.m. Even addresses can water Wednesday and Saturday, while odd addresses can water Thursdays and Sundays. For more information, visit ourwatermatters.ca.

Stage 3 restrictions that would call for a total sprinkler ban have not yet been put in place (as of press deadline on Thursday), but are expected if dry conditions continue.