The heat wave will ease by Friday – but not for southern Ontario

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For many parts of Canada, the current heat wave conditions are expected to ease by Friday, except for southern Ontario, Environment Canada said in a briefing on Wednesday.

Jennifer Smith, national warning preparedness meteorologist at Environment and Climate Change Canada, said the current heat wave conditions were due to a ridge of high pressure over eastern North America.

She said the ridge was trapping warm air.

“Widespread temperatures above 30 degrees and a humidex value over 40 have been observed already, and these conditions are expected to continue until the ridge weakens and moves away,” she said.

However, Smith said the end of the heat wave was around the corner for most of Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

“The above normal temperatures are expected to ease on Friday with the exception of extreme southern Ontario, where the above-normal heat and humidity will linger until late Sunday,” she said,

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Smith said the heat wave was rare for early June, adding that southeastern Ontario, southern Quebec and western New Brunswick will likely see heat records being broken on Wednesday and Thursday.

In Montreal, for example, she said the forecast for Wednesday was 34 degrees Celsius, while the all-time June record was 35 degrees dating back to 1964.

Health Canada is warning that all Canadians, but particularly older adults, infants and people with chronic illnesses, living in affected areas are at risk.

“It’s important to recognize the signs of heat illness, such as dizziness or fainting, nausea, headache, unusually rapid breathing, and heartbeat, or extreme thirst,” said Peter Berry, senior policy analyst at Health Canada, said.

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Berry said people should stay abreast of weather forecasts, check in on vulnerable friends and family members and most importantly, stay hydrated.

“In addition to staying hydrated, (people should be) using air conditioning, blocking the sun by closing awnings, curtains or blinds during the day, using fans, taking cool showers or baths, making meals that don’t need to be cooked in the oven, and spending time in a cool place like a community center or library,” he said.

An oppressive heat wave continued to blanket Central and Southern Ontario, southern Quebec and much of the Atlantic provinces on Wednesday.

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Environment Canada says daytime highs are expected to hit 30 C to 35 C, with the humidex making it feel closer to 45 C in some areas.

Toronto and Ottawa have both extended hours at certain outdoor pools until Thursday. In Montreal, public buildings, including libraries and cultural centres, are also open longer than usual.

Quebec’s Health Department is recommending people spend at least two hours a day in an air-conditioned space, take at least one cool shower or bath per day, and limit physical activity.

The extreme temperatures didn’t stop a planned power outage in Pointe-Claire, Que., a Montreal suburb, which left 1,600 Hydro-Québec clients without power on Wednesday morning, including a seniors residence.

Hydro-Québec spokesperson Caroline Des Rosiers said the outage could not be delayed, but added that the utility took measures to reduce the impact on residents, including by starting early in the day, at 7 a.m. The outage is expected to end by 3 p.m., and Des Rosiers said it could be earlier.

Des Rosiers said Hydro-Québec reached out proactively to the Chartwell Le Wellesley seniors residence ahead of the outage to recommend ways to keep the centre cool.

Meanwhile, a new study from Quebec’s national research centre shows that high temperatures in Quebec are associated with 470 deaths and 225 hospitalizations each summer. “I think that this really provides a solid argument to say that we need to put measures in place to reduce this burden, which is going to be greater and greater,” said the study’s main author, Jérémie Boudreault, with Institut national de la recherche scientifique.

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Also on Wednesday, Quebec’s order of chemists expressed its dismay that influencers are claiming sunscreen ingredients are harmful to the skin. It said such “scientifically unfounded” claims could endanger public health.

Michel Alsayegh, president of the order of chemists, says sunscreens are designed to protect the skin from the harmful effects of the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays and that scientific research demonstrates the efficacy and safety of these products when used properly.

He said, “it is worrying to see pseudo-experts inciting the population to forego sun protection, thereby increasing the risk of skin cancer and other damage caused by UV rays.”

— With files from Jean-Benoit Legault in Montreal and Canadian Press

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