Skip to main content

Here's what needs to happen for B.C. to send an emergency alert about heat

In the rare instance of an extreme heat emergency in B.C. provincial officials, in coordination with Environment and Climate Change Canada, would send an emergency alert. But significant hot weather criteria would need to be met first.

Those criteria were established along with the BC HEAT Committee in 2022 as a way of trying to ensure public health coordination and effective communication when the province experiences extreme heat. The province's heat alert and response system was developed after hundreds died during the 2021 heat dome.

With temperatures expected to soar up to 15 degrees above normal over the next several days, a special weather statement has been issued by ECCC.

"A lot of widespread daily temperature maximum records are going to break through this event, there’s no doubt about that,” said Armel Castellan, a meteorologist with the agency.

Special weather statements can be issued when warm weather arrives earlier than expected in the season, because people need time to acclimatize to heat.

A heat warning is not yet in place and in order for one to be issued, daytime highs and nighttime lows would need to be hotter than normal for at least two consecutive days “while remaining stable,” officials say.

The temperature threshold for what’s considered above normal varies across the province. The Interior for example, usually has warmer summers than the South Coast.

The province says we usually see three heat warnings each summer, on average.

The third type of alert is an extreme heat emergency.

This is issued when the criteria for a warning are met and when temperatures are expected to keep climbing substantially everyday, for three days or more.

This is considered dangerously hot weather.

The BC HEAT committee would then discuss the forecast with ECCC, and decide whether an emergency text should be sent to alert the public.

Forecasters are reassured that the incoming weekend weather, while warm, will not reach anywhere close to that type of warning.

“It just has no potential to reach the same extreme as we saw in June 2021,” said Castellan, referring to the deadly heat dome.

“So we are not looking at the same animal, in that sense.” Top Stories

Tragedy in real time: The Armenian exodus from Nagorno-Karabakh

For the past five days, vehicles laden with refugees have poured into Armenia, fleeing from the crumbling enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in neighbouring Azerbaijan. In a special report for, journalist Neil Hauer recounts what it's like on the ground in Armenia.

Stay Connected