KELOWNA - We're having a heat wave. A tropical heat wave. But not a record-breaking heat wave.
If you go to Environment Canada’s web site, it looks like Kelowna broke a high temperature record on Wednesday. According to the web site, the mercury rose to 34.7 C. The previous record was 34.3 C on the same day in 2006.
But there is a disclaimer to go along with the new record. The data for Kelowna only goes back to 2005. The historical weather records don’t apply to the current temperatures because the airport weather reporting station switched over to new NAV Canada sensors and reporting tools.
“It would take me about two hours to explain it,” says David Jones with Environment Canada. “The archived data is very tricky to wade through now because NAV Canada has taken over a bunch of the stations and that has implications for the veracity of the records.”
Jones says meteorologists now have to contrast and check multiple weather stations to get accurate recording breaking weather statistics.
So, the actual record high temperature for Kelowna is 36.8 C recorded on July 24, 1994. Wednesday’s 34.7 C is 2 degrees below the actual record temperature.
The rest of the region is also a couple degrees away from record-breaking heat.
In Kamloops, the temperature hit a high of 36.1 C Wednesday. The record was set back in 1984 with a high temperature of 38.3 C.
Vernon is way off as well. The city was 34.6 C Wednesday, but the record is 39.6 C set on July 24, 1994.
In Penticton, it’s going to have to get about 2 degrees warmer before any records snap. It was 39.6 C on July 24, 1994. On Wednesday, the high temperature was 35.9.
Even if we aren’t breaking high temperature records in the Thompson-Okanagan, there’s no question it’s hot, hot, hot.
Is it hot enough to be called a heat wave? Environment Canada doesn’t have a strict definition for a heat wave.
“If it’s hot for more than a couple of days, it’s a heat wave.”
Jones says how you define what a heat wave is depends where you live.
“Is 32 C a heat wave in the Okanagan? No. Is 32 C a heat wave on the coast? Yes. People aren’t acclimatized on the coast.”
When it hits 36 C in the Lower Mainland there are pretty significant impacts, according to Jones.
“But for the Southern Interior it’s just a scorching day. People are adapted. There’s more air conditioning. There’s less of an impact.”
Jones says in our region, when the mercury hit 35 C, it’s close enough. Call it a heat wave.
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