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Heat, hydro records; 911 calls; wildfires and air quality: B.C. heat wave wrapped

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It was a record-breaking three days across B.C., with dozens of daily temperature records falling every day, including 17 on Saturday, 33 on Sunday and 37 on Monday, when the early season heat wave peaked.

While temperatures dipped in the Lower Mainland Tuesday, a heat warning is still in effect for the North Coast, and a special weather statement for unseasonably warm temperatures still covers part of the Interior.

Multiple B.C. communities saw heat records broken on all three days, including Agassiz, Comox, Dawson Creek, Mackenzie, Pitt Meadows, Sechelt, Squamish, Victoria, West Vancouver and Whistler.

The hottest the province, and the country, got was 36.5 C in Lytton on Monday.

Many of the fallen records were surpassed by several degrees, such as in Pemberton, which reached 35.9 C on Monday, soaring past its previous record of 30.0 C for May 15.

And some of the records were truly historical, such as in the Victoria Harbour area, which beat a 128-year-old high Monday, reaching 30.3 C versus 1895’s 26.1 C.

But the temperatures were not the only area B.C. broke records in during the heat wave. As BC Hydro predicted, peak hourly demand for electricity reached an all-time high for the month of May on Monday between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

BC Hydro attributes the province’s record-breaking electricity use to British Columbians cranking up the air-conditioning and fans as the heat wave peaked, using nearly 7,600 megawatts of power during that hour.

The weather prompted an air quality advisory to be issued in Metro Vancouver Monday, as ground-level ozone levels rose due to the heat, putting those with respiratory issues at higher risk. The advisory was lifted Tuesday afternoon. 

The heat also brought a substantial increase in 911 calls over the weekend, with operators receiving 61 per cent more calls than this time last year. Thirty-eight calls were for heat-related illness over the weekend, compared to just 10 in the entire month of May last year. 

In addition, soaring temperatures exacerbated wildfires in Northern B.C., with the area burnt several times higher than the 10-year average for this time of year. Two out-of-control fires near Fort St. John put the city on evacuation alert Monday.

The full list of temperature records set on Monday, May 15, follows below:

Abbotsford

New record of 31.6 C

Old record of 30.2 C set in 2006

Records in this area have been kept since 1944

Agassiz

New record of 33.2 C

Old record of 32.0 C set in 2006

Records in this area have been kept since 1889

Bella Bella

New record of 30.1 C

Old record of 25.0 C set in 2014

Records in this area have been kept since 1977

Blue River

New record of 32.0 C

Old record of 30.0 C set in 1973

Records in this area have been kept since 1946

Burns Lake

New record of 31.9 C

Old record of 25.6 C set in 1959

Records in this area have been kept since 1949

Cache Creek

New record of 35.0 C

Old record of 33.0 C set in 2018

Records in this area have been kept since 1944

Clearwater

New record of 34.0 C

Old record of 33.3 C set in 1939

Records in this area have been kept since 1913

Clinton

New record of 28.8 C

Old record of 27.0 C set in 2018

Records in this area have been kept since 1974

Comox

New record of 30.1 C

Old record of 26.5 C set in 2006

Records in this area have been kept since 1914

Dawson Creek

New record of 31.1 C

Old record of 27.8 C set in 1959

Records in this area have been kept since 1926

Fort St. John

New record of 31.0 C

Old record of 27.8 C set in 1959

Records in this area have been kept since 1910

Kamloops

New record of 32.2 C

Old record of 31.1 C set in 1924

Records in this area have been kept since 1890

Kelowna

New record of 32.1 C

Old record of 31.3 C set in 2018

Records in this area have been kept since 1899

Lillooet

New record of 34.4 C

Old record of 33.9 C set in 1925

Records in this area have been kept since 1917

Lytton

New record of 36.5 C

Old record of 33.9 C set in 1949

Records in this area have been kept since 1921

Mackenzie

New record of 32.4 C

Old record of 26.7 C set in 1973

Records in this area have been kept since 1971

Merritt

New record of 32.9 C

Old record of 32.0 C set in 2006

Records in this area have been kept since 1918

Nakusp

New record of 30.0 C

Old record of 28.8 C set in 2018

Records in this area have been kept since 1966

Pemberton

New record of 35.9 C

Old record of 30.0 C set in 1925

Records in this area have been kept since 1908

Pitt Meadows

New record of 33.1 C

Old record of 30.0 C set in 1895

Records in this area have been kept since 1874

Port Alberni

New record of 34.3 C

Old record of 30.0 C set in 2006

Records in this area have been kept since 1900

Port Hardy

New record of 27.2 C

Old record of 22.4 C set in 2006

Records in this area have been kept since 1944

Powell River

New record of 30.2 C

Old record of 26.0 C set in 2018

Records in this area have been kept since 1924

Prince George

New record of 30.7 C

Old record of 27.8 C set in 1925

Records in this area have been kept since 1912

Prince Rupert

New record of 22.9 C

Old record of 21.1 C set in 1921

Records in this area have been kept since 1908

Sandspit

New record of 19.8 C

Old record of 17.0 C set in 2011

Records in this area have been kept since 1945

Sechelt

New record of 30.6 C

Old record of 26.1 C set in 2014

Records in this area have been kept since 1956

Smithers

New record of 29.5 C

Old record of 22.8 C set in 1952

Records in this area have been kept since 1938

Squamish

New record of 34.3 C

Old record of 31.5 C set in 2006

Records in this area have been kept since 1960

Terrace

New record of 29.5 C

Old record of 28.3 C set in 1925

Records in this area have been kept since 1912

Vancouver

New record of 24.3 C

Old record of 24.2 C set in 1997

Records in this area have been kept since 1896

Victoria

New record of 29.5 C

Old record of 25.9 C set in 2006

Records in this area have been kept since 1914

Victoria Harbour

New record of 30.3 C

Old record of 26.1 C set in 1895

Records in this area have been kept since 1874

West Vancouver

New record of 30.3 C

Old record of 26.7 C set in 2007

Records in this area have been kept since 1976

Whistler

New record of 31.7 C

Old record of 27.6 C set in 2006

Records in this area have been kept since 1950

Williams Lake

New record of 28.8 C

Old record of 26.1 C set in 1973

Records in this area have been kept since 1960

Yoho National Park

New record of 28.3 C

Old record of 26.1 C set in 1973

Records in this area have been kept since 1923

 

Environment and Climate Change Canada notes that the heat records are based on preliminary data and do not constitute a complete or final report.

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