Rare B.C. heat wave set to break Canada Day records

Scorching weather has settled in over British Columbia for this Canada Day weekend, and while those celebrating at the beach are finding some relief from the heat, those in the B.C. Interior are in for a rare heat wave that may shatter records set over 70 years ago.

According to climatologist Dave Phillips, a heat wave at the beginning of July is rare for British Columbia.

"Typically about, you know, four out of every five July 1sts are wet, and temperatures can be a little on the cool side," he said in an interview with CBC News. "To get a temperature above 27 and dry... about once in 76 years."

One record was already busted on Sunday, as the mercury at the Abbotsford airport climbed to 33.3°C, beating the previous record for June 30th, set in 1995, by just a third of a degree. Neighbouring Chilliwack reached even higher, getting to 33.7°C, which may have also broken a June 30th record (although Environment Canada says they're waiting on official confirmation).

It's still hours away from finding out if any records are broken today (as temperatures won't reach their hottest until at least mid-afternoon), but just looking at the forecast for today, the chances are pretty good. Throughout the Okanagan Valley, temperatures are expected to get up into the mid-to-high 30s, with the forecast temperatures matching or exceeding the July 1st record temperatures, but it's the area around Lytton and Lillooet that are set to take the lead, possibly reaching 40 degrees today. If they reach that high, they'll rival records for July 1st going back to the early 1940s.

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As to whether this will qualify as a true heat wave, it's looking pretty good (or bad, depending on how you look at it). Environment Canada's definition for a heat wave is at least three days in a row with temperatures of 32.0°C or higher. There were definitely a few that made it yesterday, it looks like several more will reach that threshold today, and even though it's expected to cool down a bit for tomorrow, some cities will likely make it official.

Happy Canada Day!

(Photo courtesy: Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

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