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More local heat waves expected

By August 29, 2022No Comments
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Prolonged hot spells and heat warnings experienced again this summer in the Lloydminster area could become the new normal due to climate change.

“As the climate changes, we can expect more prolonged and intense heat waves to occur, and we have seen a few this summer,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Sara Hoffman in Edmonton.

“Last year, we’ll never forget what the press called the ‘heat dome’ event in 2021 in early July.”

Hoffman thinks we certainly are seeing these heat waves happen more frequently, and they’re more intense.

She says the heat dome in 2021 was so severe because we had a cooler than normal June leading into a stretch of unprecedented hottest temperatures ever recorded in some places on the Prairies.

“That swing can have really intense physical reactions in people,” she said, noting people can acclimatize a bit better during a prolonged hot spell, like the one in effect this month.

Cooler temperatures are expected this week, but the prevailing heat spell is creating chatter at Environment Canada.

“What’s kind of unusual about this system is just how long this heat system has been around for,” said Hoffman on Friday during another heat warning in effect for Lloydminster.

She says we are looking at temperatures in our area this summer that are quite warm for much longer than we’re used to, but not necessarily record-breaking.

There have been five days since Aug. 11 with a daytime high of greater the 27C and two close to 29C, with the heat-warning criteria being a daytime high of 29C for a least two days in a row.

“What we’re seeing is a lot of temperatures really close to that for long periods of time, whereas we’re used to that variability where things will cool off and get to the low 20s,” said Hoffman.

“We haven’t really seen that this time.”

As for the fall, Environment Canada expects it to be warmer than normal.

“We expect warmer than normal conditions to continue into September and the conditions will move more into a seasonal—what we should expect for that time of the year,” Hoffman said.

“Beyond that, we are looking at a La Nina winter again. That will be the third winter in a row. What we don’t know exactly is how strong the La Nina will be.”

La Nina is a cooler sea surface temperature off the coast of South America that affects temperatures across the world.

“For us, that means a cooler than normal winter and more than normal snow,” said Hoffman.

While it may seem unbearably hot lately, Environment Canada says in general, this summer is warmer than normal but it doesn’t compare to last summer.

“In the grand scheme of things I think it will go down as a hair above normal, but not necessarily anything to write home about in terms of the heat,” said Hoffman.

On the downside, she said it also means some of the most vulnerable people in our communities like young children and people with pre-existing health conditions can really feel the effects. 

She says that’s especially the case if they can’t get away from the heat or they don’t have an air-conditioned place or a basement to go to.

“It’s important for everyone to check in on everyone in their life who is vulnerable and living alone. It’s hard to recognize the symptoms of heat illness in yourself,” said Hoffman.

“Heat affects everyone.”