Grab your trunks, towel and sunscreen and head to your favourite swimming hole – summer has arrived with a vengeance. Temperatures on Vancouver Island are expected to soar above 35 C in Campbell River and the Comox Valley over the weekend, more than 10 degrees above seasonal norms. Meteorologists predict records will be smashed.
“It’s hard to get 30 degrees right up against the Pacific Ocean because it is our air conditioner,” Environment Canada meteorologist Armel Castellan told Chek News in a recent story. “This ridge is going to rebuild very strongly, and … temperatures … are going to climb day-to-day, peaking over the weekend or even into early next week.”
At the same time, Tofino and Ucluelet will be roasting in the mid-20s. It’s part of a heatwave scorching western North America, and has air conditioners working overtime in places like Palm Spring, where temps hit a blistering, all-time record of 50.6 C.
Despite a wetter than normal June on Vancouver Island, biologists and forest firefighters are concerned by the long-range forecast, which predicts a dry and hot July, August and September.
A prolonged drought could impact the survival of western red cedars, which have been dying in greater numbers on the south coast due to increasingly dry summers. And the Island has already experienced one of its busiest and earliest forest fire seasons to date.
“For the coastal area, we count on June to bring us lots of moisture to keep the forest moist,” said Dorthe Jakobsen of the Coastal Fire Centre in Parksville. “Without that, the forest fuels get really dry and the ignition is .. easy and quick and it makes fighting those fires more difficult.”
There have already been almost twice as many fires in the region than in a normal year.
“The 10-year average is 29, and we’ve had 56,” Jakobsen said. And all of them are believed to be human-caused.