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Nanaimo swelters as new daily heat record set

Sunday was the hottest July 7 on record as the temperature reached 33.3 C
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Firefighter Brad Fraser of Nanaimo Fire Rescue changes the fire danger rating to 'extreme' on the sign outside Station 3 on Monday, July 8.

Sunday was the hottest July 7 in Nanaimo in recorded history, reaching 33.3 C, and surpassing 2010's record of 32.2 C. 

More than 20 communities broke daily heat records yesterday, including Nanaimo, Qualicum Beach, and the Malahat area on Vancouver Island. Sechelt, Pemberton, Whistler, Ashcroft, Clinton, Fort Nelson, Kamloops, Kelowna, Langley, Lillooet, Lytton, Merritt, Pentiction, Puntzi Mountain, Smithers, Tatlayoka Lake, Vernon and Williams Lake were other communities that established new daily heat records.

In a press conference, Armel Castellan, warning preparedness meteorologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada, said that while daily records were broken, the heat wasn't at all-time July record levels.

"That's where the distinction is between this event and what we saw in late June of 2021, where the temperatures were reaching well above this and over several days…" Castellan said. "This is much more of a reasonable or normal amount of heat for this time of year."

For Vancouver Island, he said residents can expect hot conditions to ease up over the next week. 

"We're going to see some impacts from the Pacific, which really is Mother Nature's air conditioning for the south coast, particularly Vancouver Island," he said. "...Come Wednesday, the temperature will start diminish four or five degrees, getting up to the upper 20s, and then by Thursday we'll see the temperatures within two or three degrees of normal conditions which is 24 C maximums at this time of the year. So we'll be in that 26-27 C [range] before things warm up again next weekend."

With the sustained higher temperature, Nanaimo Fire Rescue announced that as of July 7, the community is now under an 'extreme' wildfire danger rating.

This means the risk of fire is considered 'very serious' in at least one area of the city, with fires starting easily, spreading rapidly and potentially challenging fire rescue efforts. In this case it's the south end reaching extreme, with the remainder of the community in the 'high' wildfire danger rating.

David Dales, Nanaimo Fire Rescue assistant chief of operations, said residents should be extra vigilant about fires.

"When you're in an extreme, what that really means is you have elevated temperatures climbing and your relative humidity is dropping…" Dales said. "When we have temperature climbing, relative humidity dropping and we're in the extreme, any kind of fire in the landscape is problematic immediately because of the conditions."

Nanaimo has been under Category 2 and 3 open fire restrictions, which means fireworks and burn barrels are all prohibited without a permit.

"We're probably going to be in the extreme until probably the third week of July as it stands…" Dales said. "There's a bunch of different factors that come up to that fire danger rating, but the biggest reason is a prolonged heat wave without precipitation."

For wildfire-related information, Dales recommends following B.C. Wildfire Service's social media channels or visiting http://gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/wildfire-status.



Jessica Durling

About the Author: Jessica Durling

Nanaimo News Bulletin journalist covering health, wildlife and Lantzville council.
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