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Heat dome settling over Alberta triggers weather warnings, electric grid alert

Click to play video: 'Edmontonians try to stay cool despite heat warnings in place for much of Alberta'
Edmontonians try to stay cool despite heat warnings in place for much of Alberta
A warning to be aware of how much time you're spending in the heat and keep an eye on vulnerable friends and neighbours. Edmonton and most of the province of Alberta is under a heat warning. Chris Chacon with how some are cooling down and helping others stay safe – Jun 8, 2023

A heat dome is forming over Alberta, prompting widespread weather warnings and the activation of the City of Edmonton’s extreme weather response.

“Another upper ridge in the jet stream will lead to hot, stable and stagnant conditions for much of Alberta for the near future,” Global Edmonton chief meteorologist Jesse Beyer said.

Environment Canada issued heat warnings Wednesday for a large swath of the province, from south of Calgary to north of Athabasca, as well in the Grande Prairie and Peace River regions of northwestern Alberta.

Heat warnings are issued when very high temperature conditions are expected to pose an elevated risk of heat illnesses, such as heat stroke or heat exhaustion.

Temperatures reaching 29 C combined with overnight lows near 14 C will begin Wednesday, continuing Thursday and potentially into the weekend.

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Click to play video: 'Heat advisory and power demand alert issued in Central and Southern Alberta '
Heat advisory and power demand alert issued in Central and Southern Alberta 

The temperature is expected to stay in the upper 20 C to low 30 C range until the start of next week, Beyer said, adding it looks like we’ll see the high pressure ridge starting to collapse next Wednesday.

“Not only will it be hot, it will be stable and particulate matter from wildfires and local industry could linger at the surface, affecting air quality under the heat dome.”

A heat dome is caused by a strong ridge of high pressure that traps warm air underneath it.

The weather event gets its name because the ridge acts like a dome, allowing the sun to crank up the heat below and create a heat wave that lasts at least a few days.

Click to play video: 'Officials warn Alberta wildfires could be fuelled by heat dome'
Officials warn Alberta wildfires could be fuelled by heat dome

Global Calgary chief meteorologist Tiffany Lizee said Calgary will cool off a bit at the end of this week, as that region is expecting some cloud cover and scattered showers. She said thunderstorms are also possible.

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“Temperatures will stay above seasonal all the way through to mid-month,” she said. “Along with this warmth, there’s a lot of instability as well, so a risk of thunderstorms extends through nearly every day in our seven-day forecast.”

Global Calgary weather anchor Paul Dunphy said further south in the Lethbridge area, there will be more clouds, cooler temperatures and a chance of thundershowers beginning Thursday.

Electricity grid alert

The Alberta Electric System Operator declared a grid alert Wednesday afternoon due to hot temperatures and low wind, combined with an unplanned generator outage.

The AESO issues a grid alert when the power system is under stress and it’s preparing to use emergency reserves to meet demand and maintain system reliability. They can be triggered by both extremely hot and cold weather.

Consumers are asked to reduce their electricity use during alerts to help lower the need to for more serious emergency measures to balance the system, including rotating power outages.

The entity responsible for the province’s electrical system asked Albertans Wednesday to consider conserving electricity through peak consumption hours of 4 to 7 p.m.

On Thursday, the AESO said winds had picked up so generating capacity had increased. That said, communications manager Leif Sollid said demand will be high through the weekend because of higher air conditioning usage so Albertans can do their part to reduce demand.

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“That can be things like not running large appliances, washers and dryers,” Sollid said. “Using your microwave to cook dinner instead of of your stove and turning off unnecessary lights.

“Even something like turning down your air conditioning a little bit can help — when it’s done across the province, that can make a difference.”

Some ways to save energy include:

  • Turn off unnecessary lights and electrical appliances
  • Minimize the use of air conditioning/space heaters
  • Delay the use of major power-consuming appliances such as washers, dryers and dishwashers until after peak hours
  • Use cold water for washing clothes—most of the energy used goes to heating the water (only running full loads helps too)
  • Delay charging electric vehicles
  • Cook with your microwave, crockpot or toaster oven instead of the stove
  • Limit the use of kitchen or bathroom ventilation fans
  • Use motion-detector lights in storage areas, garages, and outdoors when possible
  • Work on a laptop instead of a desktop computer (laptops are more energy-efficient than desktop units)

Signs of heat-related illnesses

Extreme heat can be dangerous and people are advised to monitor for symptoms of heat stroke or heat exhaustion, such as high body temperature, lack of sweat, confusion, fainting and unconsciousness.

Some people are more susceptible to the heat, including infants, children, seniors and people with pre-existing lung, heart, kidney, nervous system, mental health or diabetic conditions.

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Those who work outdoors and who are socially isolated could also be affected, Environment Canada said.

People should drink plenty of water even before feeling thirsty. Symptoms of heat illness:

  • Dizziness/fainting
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Rapid breathing and heartbeat
  • Extreme thirst
  • Decreased urination with unusually dark urine
  • Lack of sweat
  • Confusion
  • Fainting
  • Unconsciousness

Albertans are advised to take the following precautions to protect themselves, their families and their neighbours:

  • Consider rescheduling outdoor activities to cooler hours of the day
  • Take frequent breaks from the heat, spending time in cooled indoor spaces where possible
  • Drink plenty of water and other non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated beverages to stay hydrated
  • Check for your children or pets before you exit your vehicle. Do not leave any person or pet inside a closed vehicle, for any length of time
Click to play video: 'Extreme heat warning in Alberta prompts warning about indoor temperatures'
Extreme heat warning in Alberta prompts warning about indoor temperatures

Extreme weather heat response activated

The City of Edmonton is activating its extreme weather response because of the heat — effective Thursday at 8 a.m. — focusing on expanding access to water and cool indoor spaces.

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Anyone needing a break from the heat may go to any open city facility or library and the city said all peace officers will carry bottled water to hand out to vulnerable people.

There will be several water stations set up across the city. People needing to refill a bottle can use filling stations that have been attached to fire hydrants.

There are several set up 24/7, and will remain until the end of September. Those locations are:

Downtown/central Edmonton

  • Central McDougall and Queen Mary Park (109 Avenue and 107 Street)
  • Kinistinâw Park (102 Avenue and 96 Street)
  • Boyle Street Community Services (105 Avenue and 102 Street)
  • Bissell Centre (96 Street and 105 Avenue)
  • Sheriff Robertson Park (82 Street and 112 Avenue
  • Stanley A. Milner Library (7 Sir Winston Churchill Square, by front entrance)
  • Unity Square (104 Avenue and 117 Street)

West

  • Butler Park (15715 Stony Plain Road)
  • Callingwood Park (17740 69 Ave.)

South

  • McIntyre Park/Old Strathcona Farmers Market (10310 83 Ave.)
  • Millwoods Transit Station (Hewes Way and 25 Avenue)
  • Southgate Transit Centre (111 Street and 50 Avenue)

North & northeast

  • Parkdale Plaza (118 Avenue and 82 Street)
  • Clareview Transit Station (west of 139 Avenue NW)
  • Mosaic Centre (65 Street and 132 Avenue)
  • Niginan Housing Ventures (12340 Fort Road)
  • Beverly Heights ( 118 Avenue between 33 and 34 Street)

There are an additional 24 water bottle filling stations throughout transit centres and LRT stations, the city said.

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The extreme weather response activation will remain in effect until Tuesday, June 13 at 8 a.m. based on current forecasts. If extreme heat conditions persist, the city said the activation may be extended.

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