After several days of record-breaking heat, Abbotsford resident Josh Blais and his three-year-old son Lucas decided it was time they tested their just-acquired pedal-powered boat.
“I took the day off work (with permission),” Blais said as he loaded the small blue two-seater into Mill Lake late Wednesday morning.
Then he put Lucas into a lifejacket and sun hat, raised the boat awning for shade, and the pair headed out into the bright sunlight.
Environment Canada reported new official record high temperatures were set at the Abbotsford airport for four days running this week.
On Sunday, April 17, the high of 24.5 degrees Celsius beat the previous record of 22.7 set in 1983.
Monday, the Abbotsford airport recorded a high of 29 C, beating the previous record of 25 C set in 1962.
Tuesday, the high of 27.2. C broke the old record of 25.2 C set in 2010 .
On Wednesday, the high was 28 degrees C, more than the record of 26.1 C set in 1956.
Thursday was expected to be higher than seasonal normals, but not high enough to set a record, with temperatures easing by next week
Environment Canada meteorologist Lisa Coldwells said the heat wave was the result of an “abnormally large high pressure ridge” that sent hot air from Baja, California north all the way to Prince George and the Peace country.
“The ridge has now started to decay and collapse and move eastward,” Coldwells said.
Coldwells said the warmer-than-normal conditions were the result of an “El Niño spring” where warm ocean water off Peru and Ecuador is sending high temperatures north.
That is expected to ease off by the summer, meaning “neutral conditions” with average temperatures around seasonal normals, unlike last year’s extra-hot summer, Coldwells said.
The hot weather produced an early start to the province forest fire season, with a rash of grass and forest fires.
The B.C. Wildfire Service recorded 49 fire starts across the province on Monday.
There were evacuation orders or alerts in four locations around Fort St. John, with the largest fire estimated at 3,000 hectares.
Forests Minister Steve Thomson said Tuesday the activity is several weeks earlier than last spring, prompted by high temperatures and winds in the Peace region that have since abated.
“This is an early start,” Thomson said. “It doesn’t necessarily indicate what the long-term outlook for the fire season will be.”
Chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek said the main forest fire season isn’t until July and August, and snowpacks and long-range forecasts for rainfall are not reliable indicators of severity.
“It’s not uncommon to have an early spring grass fire season in B.C., but certainly not the level of activity that we’re seeing in the Peace region and elsewhere,” Skrepnek said.
The province added $10 million to this year’s budget for wildfire protection and fuel management projects.
The province has 1,400 staff ready to work on wildfires this season, with another 1,600 contract staff available and aircraft and other equipment standing by.
– with files from Tom Fletcher, Black Press