British Columbia has smashed the all-time record for maximum temperature recorded in Canada, Environment Canada said Sunday.
A temperature of 46.1 C was recorded in Lytton, B.C., the agency said.
“The daytime maximum could be higher so stay tuned for the official recording,” it added.
The previous record of 45 C was documented in Yellow Grass, and Midale, Sask., on July 5, 1937. The previous B.C. record of 44.4 C was set in Lytton in 1941.
It came after Environment Canada predicted a high of 33 C in Vancouver, of 42 C for Abbotsford, of 45 C for Lytton, 42 C for Kamloops and 40 C for Kelowna on Sunday.
The province’s fire danger rating map Sunday showed virtually the entire province at a “high” risk, with growing pockets of “extreme” risk.
“These next few days are going to be cumulative,” Environment Canada meteorologist Arman Castellan told Global News, adding that breaking all-time records was a real possibility.
“The heat is going to add from the day previous and we’re going to see extreme heat really across the province up into the Cariboo, the coast, the south coast is included.”
Castellan said as climate change continues, extreme heat events such as this one will become more frequent, more extreme and last longer.
Businesses, residents feeling the heat
On Sunday, Victoria’s Butchart Gardens said it was closing until Wednesday due to the extreme heat.
In the Fraser Valley, raspberry farmers said they were grappling with massive crop failures, as temperatures spiked 20 degrees above growing temperature for the fruit.
“This is a natural disaster coming in after the COVID pandemic,” Abbotsford raspberry farmer Jaspal Singh Dhaliwal told Global News.
“We would like to urge the minister of agriculture to step in, as well as the federal government.”
Eastern Metro Vancouver and the central Fraser Valley remained under an air quality advisory for high concentrations of ground-level ozone, Sunday.
Extreme temperatures also led Fraser Health to begin diverting people scheduled for COVID-19 vaccines to clinics in cooler areas.
Island Health took things a step further and said it was rescheduling vaccinations booked for Sunday and Monday at the Eagle Ridge Arena and Browning Sports Centre.
“Despite mitigation measures, the high temperatures of the afternoon and lack of air conditioning are impacting the safety of our patients and staff,” it said.
People affected by the move would be contacted directly, it added.
In Abbotsford, where a Saturday peak of 39.2 C shattered a 2006 record by more than seven degrees, the heat took a toll on the community’s homeless.
“My husband has passed out a couple of times because we haven’t been able to find shade,” Jancie Dycke told Global News. “Store owners are always telling us to leave.”
Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health have set up cooling centres to try and help some of the most vulnerable.
Groups that work with the homeless are asking the public for donations of water, sunscreen and gift cards to places where they can get out of the heat or have a cool drink.
Saturday records tumble
Environment Canada said at least 54 daily heat records were broken in British Columbia on Saturday.
Lytton was B.C.’s hotspot, recording a blistering 43. 2 C. The previous record for June 26 in Lytton, 39.9 was set in 2006.
It wasn’t the only community to see 40-degree-plus temperatures on Saturday.
The mercury hit 43.1 C in Lillooet, shattering a 96-year-old record. Records also fell in Cache Creek (42.5 C), Clearwater (40 C), Osoyoos (40.1 C), Pemberton (40.3 C) and Kamloops (40.7 C).