How the U.S. heat dome will affect the long weekend across Canada

The Western U.S. is currently sweltering under a heat dome, and according to experts, we’ll be feeling some of those impacts in parts of Canada this long weekend.

Environment Canada meteorologist Heather Pimiskern said the heat leaking north from the U.S. is “increasing temperatures across a lot of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and potentially going into Manitoba later on into the weekend and early next week.”

Currently, there are numerous heat warnings in place in southern Alberta, with a few in place in southern B.C. on the coast. That heat is expected to stick around in Alberta and spread more into the Prairies during the weekend.

“We’re essentially expecting temperatures to be in the low to mid-30s starting Friday and continuing on through Saturday and Sunday,” Pimiskern told in a phone interview, speaking specifically to the Prairies region.

Excessive heat has been breaking records in the U.S. this week, fuelling fires and heat strokes. Western Canada has been experiencing a similar effect, and that’ll continue into the weekend.

“A building ridge of high pressure … is drawing warm air from the south and transporting it northward into Canada,” Pimiskern explained. “And so what that’s doing is increasing the temperature at all levels in the atmosphere and that’s causing the heat to build over the region.”

So if heat is moving north from the heat dome currently gripping the Western U.S., does that mean that Canada is about to see a huge jump in heat and suffer a similar heat dome?

No, Pimiskern says — although it will be hot this weekend in Western Canada, and certainly a heat “episode” in some regions, a heat dome is a whole other can of worms.

“When you think of a heat dome, what comes to mind for me is what happened last year in B.C., where they had endless weeks on end of extreme heat and it dried everything out and they didn’t receive rain for a long time,” she said.

B.C. is currently experiencing a late season heat wave, but the impact so far has been less brutal than 2021’s punishing heat, with B.C. heat warnings expected to ease starting on Friday.

More than a dozen temperature records were broken or tied in B.C. earlier this week, ranging from low to high 30s.

Although Canada shouldn’t get the full heat dome impact, those planning long weekend activities should certainly check the forecast ahead of time, particularly if they are living in provinces affected by the heat warnings, experts say.

Although everyone has a different tolerance for heat, Pimiskern noted that “extreme heat affects everyone.”

“It’s really important to drink plenty of water and try to find yourself a cool place or space to allow yourself to cool down both externally and internally. We also say, you know, you should reduce your heat risk by scheduling outdoor activities during the cooler parts of the day.”

She added that it’s important to keep animals hydrated and not lock them in cars on hot days, and to check on elderly neighbours and relatives.

Alberta and Saskatchewan will be “the most affected by the heat” this weekend, Pimiskern said.

But overnight temperatures won’t be as hot, dipping closer to 14 to 16 degrees.

“Because the days are getting shorter, we just have more opportunity to cool off at night,” Pimiskern said. “There is the chance that temperatures will get slightly below the (heat warning) criteria, 14 degrees, however, with the daytime highs being so extreme and it being so far above normal for this time of the year, we do have the heat warnings in effect.”

When will the effects of this heat start to dissipate? It depends on your exact area, Pimiskern said, but it’ll be around the end of the weekend.

“In the U.S., it looks as though the heat will be fairly prolonged in nature,” she said. “Just looking at some of the extended range models, the Western U.S. is unfortunately going to be greatly affected by this heat, even potentially (into) next weekend.”

But in Canada, we’ll see the effects of this heat “diminish late on Sunday or early in the day on Monday, the heat will start to move off towards the east.”

She added that heat could “rebuild potentially later into next week, but at this point in time, the reprieve from this current event will be by Monday.”

Eastern Canada won’t have much to worry about in terms of heat domes this long weekend, with temperatures largely predicted to be seasonal — but the Weather Network is reporting there could be periodic showers and thunderstorms across Ontario and Quebec, moving south from Friday afternoon to Saturday.

And on Monday, there could be scattered showers in the Atlantic provinces.

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