The heat wave continues.
Temperatures are expected to remain high this week as a summer heat wave continues to bake the West Kootenay and the southern part of the province.
Daytime highs will be climbing to the low 30’s Celsius this week and well into the following week — with highs of 35 C expected for this weekend — but with overnight lows providing some respite near 14 C.
Environment Canada has not rescinded its weather alert for the West Kootenay — along with the Okanagan Valley, Fraser Canyon, South Thompson and Boundary region — predicting extreme daytime highs and overnight lows for the next few days.
“An exceptionally strong ridge of high pressure over B.C. will continue to bring very warm temperatures,” the report read. “The duration of this heat wave is concerning as there is little relief at night with elevated overnight temperatures.”
However, lightning storms have been added to the weather menu for the coming week with three days of late-day electrical and precipitation events.
Sun, clear skies and even hotter weather are predicted to return to the region beginning this weekend, clearing by Friday.
Last week an “unprecedented” number of reports of sudden and unexpected deaths were recorded throughout the province, according to the province’s chief coroner.
Lisa Lapointe noted that 719 deaths were reported to B.C. coroners over a seven-day period leading up to Canada Day.
“This number is preliminary and subject to increase as additional reported deaths are entered into our system,” she said July 2. “The 719 deaths reported is three times more than what would normally occur in the province during the same period.”
She felt extreme weather was a “significant contributing factor” to the increased number of deaths. Although reports are not confirmed, it was noted many of the deaths last week were among older individuals living alone in private residences with minimal ventilation, Lapointe added.
No reports of heat-related deaths were recorded in the Nelson region.
People were encouraged to frequent cooler environments — shopping malls, libraries and other air-conditioned community spaces — for respite from the effects of severe heat.
Last week the city helped provide two dedicated community cooling centres, one at the Seniors Centre (717 Vernon Street, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and the Curling Club lounge (302 Cedar St., 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.). Those centres could be available again this week, along with Chahko Mika Mall and the library.
Look, up in the air
The Meteorological Service of Canada (Environment Canada) has also issued a smoky skies bulletin warning that a special air quality statement is in effect for the West Kootenay.
The bulletin warned that the area will likely be impacted by wildfire smoke over the next 24-48 hours.
“Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath,” the report read.
Children, seniors and those with cardiovascular or lung disease (asthma) are especially at risk.
• For advice on staying safe during extreme weather: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2021PSSG0043-001226
• Warm-weather safety tips from the BC Centre for Disease Control: http://www.bccdc.ca/about/news-stories/stories/2020/warm-weather-safety-in-a-time-of-covid-19
• HealthLink BC online resources for about heat-related illness:
People can call 811 to ask about heat-related illness as well.
Timothy Schafer is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter for the West Kootenay.