Hot, smoky summer ahead, Environment Canada forecasts

Jun 21, 2023 | Canadian News, Headlines

Canadians were being told this week to brace for the heat in the coming months after Environment and Climate Canada presented this summer’s seasonal outlook.

“We’ve gone through the spring, which was actually quite cool in March and April, and became extremely warm in the month of May,” said Armel Castellan, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Climate Change Canada.

The forecast, designed to help Canadians prepare and respond to extreme weather events, suggests that hot conditions will continue across the country this summer, she said.

Only Baffin Island, Ellesmere, and the Avalon Peninsula are expected to see below-seasonal temperatures in Canada over the coming months.

“The probabilities from mid-June to mid-July are extremely high over Quebec and Ontario, Manitoba, and even edging all the way over to the West Coast with the exception of parts of Vancouver Island,” he said.

And these conditions have consequences, including a continuation of the unprecedented wildfires experienced in recent months, she said.

Castellan said the high frequency of these wildfires could overwhelm local officials and lead to homes and communities being evacuated.

Also this week Health Canada released a report on the the ongoing fire situation. Jean-Yves Duclos, Canada’s Minister of Health, said in the release that this year’s wildfire season will affect Canadians throughout the summer.

“These events can harm our communities and our health,” Duclos said.

And another big risk factor for health is the heat.

Castellan said as the climate continues to warm, heat waves will become hotter and more frequent. That will create drought conditions and health risks and contribute to mortality for vulnerable communities, she said.

Nathan Gillet, a research scientists with the science and technology branch at Environment Climate Change Canada, said heat waves are likely to occur throughout the summer, and will not be unique to this year.

In fact, he said they could happen more often in the future, he said.

“We can think back to the June 2021 heat wave, where a new record temperature with observed for Canada of almost 50 C,” Gillet said.

“In the present climate, with a little more than one-degree global warming, this kind of one-in-50-year heat wave is now about five times more likely to occur.”

To reduce the impacts of potential heatwaves and poor air quality this summer, Health Canada’s report urged Canadians to contact their local jurisdiction for information on cooling and clean air spaces, and to monitor the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI).