First heat wave of the year to hit Vancouver Island this weekend

First heat wave of the year to hit Vancouver Island this weekend

In Central Saanich, workers carefully plant strawberry plants, in row after row after row.

The crop is a week behind due to a cool spring.

But things changed quickly at Dan Ponchet’s farm.

“It’s definitely pretty dry out there. Some people, one of my neighbours were saying, oh it’s rained so much. But in reality, it’s half the amount of water that we would normally get,” Ponchet said.

Armel Castellan, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said a heat wave is about to descend on Vancouver Island with temperatures expected to rise to 28 degrees in Greater Victoria by Sunday.

“We’re dealing with a very strong signal that is so anomalous that we’re looking at July temperatures, from a hot July day, in the month of May. Not the end of May. But middle of May,” Castellan said.

Because the sudden increase in temperatures is happening so quickly, few people are acclimatized to the change.

That’s a concern for vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, people with chronic health conditions, and mental health issues who may be at risk according to Dr. Shannon Waters, Medical Health Officer for the Cowichan Valley.

“You can have heat exhaustion, or heat stroke.  Heat stroke is something that is a medical emergency. And so we want people to be seen. This is when you can have a dangerously high body temperature. People can start to become confused. Not as well coordinated. And their skin can be very hot, and red,” Dr. Waters said.

Temperatures will be 10 to 15 degrees above what is expected for mid-May.

And night time lows will remain relatively warm.

“Pick up your phone and talk with your people, your neighbours, your friends, your family who are in that category. And make sure they are hydrated, and have someplace cool to go to,” Castellan said.

Back at Dan Ponchet’s farm, adapting to the weather is something they’re used to.

“All we can do is cope with it, and changing whatever it is that needs to be done that needs to work,” Ponchet said.

The City of Victoria’s misting stations, and cooling stations, are not expected to open until June.

This high pressure-system will stick around through next week, with no rain in sight.

WATCH: Victoria readies for surge of hot weather as temperatures to reach nearly 30 this weekend

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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