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B.C. sees dozens of temperature records fall in one day as heat wave peaks

Temperatures will remain 5-10 C above seasonal for the rest of the week.

By now, many have heard that the little town of Lytton in B.C.'s Interior set back-to-back records for the hottest day ever in Canada.

On the afternoon of June 28, the village, which overlooks the meeting of the Fraser and Thompson rivers, met 47.9 C (a temperature never before recorded in Canada).

But, as anyone living in B.C. knows, that wasn't limited to Lytton. In all, 43 weather stations recorded all-time high temperatures for their locations in B.C., says Environment Canada meteorologist Man Lu. The federal agency notes all-time records were set in places like Kamloops (45.8 C), Kelowna (42.9 C) and Victoria (at the inner harbour, it hit 39.8 C).

While Lytton broke the all-time national record, Cache Creek (46.4 C), Lillooet (45.6 C) and the aforementioned Kamloops all surpassed the old record (45 C) set in 1937 in two small Saskatchewan towns.

In the Lower Mainland, Lu notes that while Vancouver didn't break an all-record (a daily record was set), other towns did.

"For Langley and Pitt Meadows, the all-time record is now 41.4 C," she says. "The record before was 37.6 C that was set in 2009."

Also nearby, Abbotsford (42.9 C), Agassiz (41.4 C), Gibsons (40.8 C), Pemberton (43.2 C), Sechelt (40.8 C), Squamish (43.0 C), Whistler (41.2 C) and White Rock (38.5 C) all set all-time highs. 

Lu says the further inland a community is, the more likely it set a record.

In total, 60 daily records fell, including in Vancouver where temperatures peaked at the airport's weather station (31.7 C). Lu points out that the station is fairly close to the ocean and temperatures inland could have been significantly higher.

Other daily records, which compare June 28, 2021 to June 28 in other years, show huge jumps in some cases. For example, in Gibsons, Dawson Creek and Sechelt, the new daily record was more than 10 degrees hotter than the previous. In Victoria, where multiple weather stations are set up, new records were around nine degrees higher than previous daily highs.

While Monday was the peak of the heat wave, Lu says some records could still be set, especially daily highs in communities inland.

"There is still a bit of uncertainty. If we're not getting that strong sea breeze, maybe the temp will go higher," she says.

And while the worst is over, it doesn't mean things will cool down completely.

"Today (Tuesday, June 29) will be the last day for this extreme heat event but temperatures will remain 5-10 C above seasonal for the rest of the week," she adds.