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TNRD – True heat waves are rare but ‘could happen again next summer’

By MEL ROTHENBURGER
Director, Electoral Area P, TNRD

The heat dome of this past summer was a once-in-1,000-year event but don’t expect another thousand years to pass before the next one, delegates to the Union of B.C. Municipalities were told Wednesday.

A workshop on the effects of climate change on temperatures painted an unsettling picture of what to expect in future.

Chief provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said heat domes are a regional phenomenon in B.C. and most deaths occurred in the Lower Mainland where very hot summers are usually more rare than in the rest of the province.

She said this year’s prolonged heat wave wouldn’t have been possible without climate change.

That assessment was echoed by Dr. Sarah Henderson, environmental health scientist with the B.C. Centre for Disease control.

Even though it was considered a once-in-1,000 years event, “this could happen again next summer,” she said.

There were deaths in all age groups but most were among those 50 years or older.

“I really want to emphasize that we saw pretty uniform increases over what was expected for all these age groups.”

A lot of deaths occurred in private residences without air conditioning because indoor temperatures could hit 40 degrees and not go down much at night, Henderson said.

Meteorologist Johanna Wagstaff said the heat wave started in the jet stream and tracked toward the West coast from China, then became “locked in.”

A heat dome is sinking air that cooks the air at lower levels but this one caused high temperatures higher up, causing rapid melts in some places, she said.

The experts saw a major heat wave coming but “we didn’t expect it so early in the decade.” As for the 1000-year scenario, “climate change is already shifting the baseline.”

The Pacific Northwest can expect to see heat waves more often as jet streams become “lazier” and park in one place more often, Wagstaff said.

About Mel Rothenburger (8485 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on TNRD – True heat waves are rare but ‘could happen again next summer’

  1. I really feel for the many bone-dry-vegetation areas planetwide uncontrollably burning. As a lifelong resident of southwestern B.C., the unprecedented heatwave here in late June, described by meteorologists as more of a ‘stalling heat dome’, left me feeling I could never again complain about the weather being too cold. …

    Neo-liberals and conservatives everywhere appear overly preoccupied with vociferously criticizing one another for their relatively trivial politics and diverting attention away from some of the planet’s greatest polluters, where it should and needs to be sharply focused.

    I find hope, however, mostly in environmentally conscious and active young people, especially those approaching or reaching voting age. In contrast, the dinosaur electorate who have been voting into high office consecutive mass-pollution promoting or complicit/complacent governments for decades are gradually dying off thus making way for voters who fully support a healthy Earth thus populace.

  2. R Marcus Lowe // September 16, 2021 at 5:41 PM // Reply

    “1000 year event” is statistical mumbo-jumbo based on best estimates of recorded data or geologic record. There is no support in predicting future events. It is best to prepare well and quit wishful thinking, regardless of who or how many say it can’t happen (again).

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