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Summer heat waves likely the new normal: Winnipeg climatologist

Storm clouds gather just west of Oak Bluff, Man., on Sunday, July 5, 2020.
Storm clouds gather just west of Oak Bluff, Man., on Sunday, July 5, 2020. Tristan Field-Jones/CJOB

Trying to beat the heat in the sweltering Manitoba summer? You should get used to it, says a Winnipeg climatologist.

Danny Blair, with the University of Winnipeg’s Prairie Climate Centre, told 680 CJOB this remarkable spell of hot, humid weather is something people on the prairies should come to expect as the new normal.

“Is it something we should expect more often? I’m afraid so,” said Blair.

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“In the long run, summers across the prairies are going to get a lot warmer.

“All the models tell us, unfortunately, that this is the kind of weather that we should expect much more often in the future.”

Blair said Manitoba’s summer temperatures haven’t changed much over the past few decades, but likely within a decade or so, we’ll notice a trend toward more brutal summertime weather.

Read more: Manitoba issues extended heat warning

“Typically in Winnipeg and southern Manitoba, we have 13-14 days of plus-30 (temperatures),” he said.

“We’ve had ten in Winnipeg already, by my count… and we still haven’t entered the warmest time of the year.

“Over the next 20-30 years, we should see a doubling of the number of hot days in a summer. If we look further, we’re talking about 3-4 times as many plus-30 days in an average summer in Manitoba.”

Blair said he hopes we’re able to curtail climate change before that happens, as the increased heat can cause other weather phenomena — such as more frequent thunderstorms like the recent ones that hammered the southwestern part of the province and caused severe flooding.

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“I like hot weather, but I don’t want dangerous weather,” he said.

“There’s clear evidence that people who have respiratory problems, people who have chronic illnesses, elderly people, are at risk.

“More people die when the weather is hot, especially if it’s prolonged.”

“Health should be a big priority. Not everybody has air conditioning and not everybody has a refuge from that heat… and it kills them.”

Concerns over the heat and people experiencing homelessness
Concerns over the heat and people experiencing homelessness