Heat warnings lifted in Sask., air quality advisories remain in place

·3 min read
Heat warnings have subsided in Saskatchewan, although air quality advisories remain in place for almost all of the province. (Jaison Empson/CBC - image credit)
Heat warnings have subsided in Saskatchewan, although air quality advisories remain in place for almost all of the province. (Jaison Empson/CBC - image credit)

It has been a punishing summer in terms of heat in Saskatchewan, but there appears to be a break on the horizon, at least for the time being.

All heat warnings have been lifted in the province after many places recently experienced record-breaking temperatures.

Ten hot weather records were broken in Saskatchewan on Thursday, in Buffalo Narrows, Collins Bay, Waskesiu, Lucky Lake, Meadow Lake, Last Mountain Lake Sanctuary area, Melfort, Nipawin, Watrous and Wynyard.

David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), said it's too early to tell if it'll be a record-breaking month for heat in the province, but it's on track to be one of the warmest and driest.

"To really find it so dry, so hot and then so smoky, my gosh, just there's nothing good about this situation," he told CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning.

Phillips said there could be some precipitation in parts of the province this week, but after that it looks like more sunshine and above-seasonal temperatures.

"It's hard to find a strand of good news out there weather-wise."

There could be some better news next month. Models show normal amounts of precipitation in August, according to Phillips, instead of well below normal like the province has been experiencing recently.

Unfortunately, damage from the heat and dryness may already be done by then — especially for farmers, he said.

Air quality advisories still in effect

Almost all of the province — everywhere except for the northwest and southeast corners — remains under an air quality advisory due to wildfire smoke.

Phillips said we can expect air quality advisories to stay in place until at least some of the fires are extinguished.

"We know that the conditions are there to make this the headline for the rest of the summer," he said.

"We really need some sustained northwesterly winds, which you don't often get in the summer, to clean the air shed out and get that beautiful blue Saskatchewan sky — and that just doesn't seem to be in the offing."

ECCC is reminding people to take necessary smoke precautions, like checking weather forecasts regularly and limiting time outdoors, if need be.

Some of the symptoms people may experience from smoke inhalation include increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath.

"Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk," the advisories say.

"People with lung diseases, such as asthma and COPD, can be particularly sensitive to air pollution. They will generally experience more serious health effects at lower levels. Pollution can aggravate their diseases, leading to increased medication use, doctor and emergency room visits, and hospital visits."

As of Monday morning there are 164 active wildfires burning in the province, according to the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency, 14 of which are contained.

There have been 423 wildfires this year, compared to the five-year average of 214 for this time of year.

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