Unprecedented Heatwave: Hottest day ever recorded on Vancouver Island

Unprecedented Heatwave: Hottest day ever recorded on Vancouver Island
Nicholas Pescod/CHEK News
The final Monday in June will go down in history as Vancouver Island's hottest day on record.

The final Monday in June will go down in history as Vancouver Island’s hottest day on record.

Schools stopped running, businesses were closed, as officials urging us to take precautions as an unprecedented dome of heat continues to beat down on not just the Island, but British Columbia and the entire Pacific Northwest.

The temperature at the Victoria International Airport earlier today hit a blistering 39.4 C, smashing yesterday’s mark of 37.4 degrees, which topped the previous high of 36.3 back in July of 2007.

Meanwhile, Victoria’s Gonzales Point hit 39.8 C, making it the hottest day ever recorded in Victoria and breaking the previous June 28 record of 30.5 C set back in 1995. Records for Gonzales Point have been kept since 1874.

These records are just today’s record-highs. You’ll notice the 42 in Port Alberni, the temperature reached 42.2 degrees at 5 p.m., which would be the all-time record for the community, breaking the previous mark of 41.7 degrees in 1926.

Elsewhere on Vancouver Island, the temperature in Port Alberni reached a staggering 42.7 degrees, according to Environment Canada data, making it the hottest temperature ever recorded not just in the community, but on Vancouver Island. Prior to Monday, Port Alberni’s hottest day on record was 41.7 degrees back in 1926 while the previous June 28 high in the city was 36.5 in 2015.

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Duncan reached 41.5 C, making it the hottest day ever recorded in that community. The previous all-time record had been 41.1 C, which was set in July 1941.

The Malahat area also saw temperature climb above the 40-degree mark, hitting 41.3 and breaking a previous June 28 record of 34.4, which was set back in 1995.

At 40.4 C, Nanaimo came within just 0.2 degrees of the all-time record of 40.6 C from July 26, 1941, but set a new monthly record for hottest June day.

Meanwhile, Courtenay saw temperatures climb to 36.5 C on Monday, breaking the old June 28 high of 31.2, which was set in 2015.

Meteorologists are dubbing the current weather conditions a ‘heat dome’, which is not only trapping heat but pollution, visible as a haze across Greater Victoria.

“The reason you have never felt this type of heat before is because it has never happened before,” said Armel Castellan, warning preparedness meteorologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada. “[It’s] a ridge that is essentially so strongly blocked it’s not moving, and it happens to be a part of climate change.”

MORE: Cooling stations open across Vancouver Island amid extreme heat wave

Like most heat waves before it, Castellan says this one will wind down as Pacific air starts to flow back into the coast Tuesday but he says with climate change there’s little doubt we will see this again.

“It’s not to say extreme events didn’t always happen it’s just that now we have them happening at a higher frequency, higher amplitude and longer-lasting,” he said.

The scorching heat wave has prompted the B.C. government to band campfires beginning on June 30 over fears of potential wildfires.

While wildfires haven’t been a major problem, 19 fires have sprung up in B.C. over the last few days. However, most remain under five hectares in size.

`Temperatures are in uncharted territory,” said Yan Boulanger, a forest ecologist for Natural Resources Canada. “Those indices for forest fire are very, very high right now.”

This week’s temperatures are also creating a risk that’s quite literally off the charts, according to Boulanger.

“These kinds of situations occur only once in 10,000 years,” he said.

As a result, Environment Canada is advising Vancouver Islanders to drink plenty of water even before they feel thirsty and stay in a cool place.

The weather agency also suggests watching for symptoms of heat-illness which include dizziness/fainting; nausea/vomiting; rapid breathing and heartbeat; extreme thirst; decreased urination with unusually dark urine.

READ: Port Alberni hits heat record for third straight day

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