26K lightning strikes in Southern Interior, but heat remains top concern | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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26K lightning strikes in Southern Interior, but heat remains top concern

Lightning from a thunderstorm lit up the Kamloops night sky on July 8, 2021, but ongoing heat remains the bigger weather concern for Environment Canada.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Steven Gillingham Photography
July 09, 2021 - 12:00 PM

Thunderstorms and rain was scattered throughout B.C.'s Southern Interior last night, but heat remains the top concern for meteorologists.

Environment Canada recorded roughly 26,000 lightning strikes south of Quesnel and between the Coast and Rocky mountains last night, July 8, but there were few, if any, new wildfires started due to lightning.

Kamloops Fire Rescue did respond to one small lightning-caused fire in Knutsford on July 8, but firefighters were already on high alert and a nearby crew was able to action it quickly.

"Everyone's a little on the nervous side and rightfully so, considering what we just went through," acting Platoon Captain Will Harlock said. 

While the thunderstorm last night lit up the skies south of Kamloops, B.C. Wildfire Service has not yet recorded any new fires overnight. The wildfire service conceded, however, that there is a chance that as the fuel on the ground continue to dry out today, some new wildfires may be discovered.

Precipitation was scattered throughout the Interior overnight. Lillooet received as much as 14 millimetres of rain, but almost none fell in Kelowna and Kamloops. 

However, Thompson and Okanagan regions can expect to see continued thunderstorms in July. It's a typical during the month to see at least one thunderstorm daily throughout the province, according to Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist.

"The hot ground and the sun beating down, with a lot of daylight hours, that will produce heat necessary to form thunderstorms. That's pretty typical," he said. "What isn't normal is the heat, especially leading up to Canada Day."

Last month was the hottest June on record in B.C., and while Lundquist doesn't expect temperatures to reach the high 40s again, temperatures are likely to remain above average for the rest of the season.

"Flow patterns in jet streams throughout the world are hard to dislodge. It walks into a bit of a pattern and it could last a few weeks, or even a season," Lundquist said.

While it's difficult to project precipitation a week or more in the future, there is a chance the region will see a system of thunderstorms towards the end of next week.

Kamloops will range from 34 Celsius to to 37 C until next Wednesday, peaking at 37 C on Tuesday. Night time highs will range from 17 C to 19 C, with a chance of showers on Saturday night.

Kelowna, Vernon and Penticton are expected to be slightly cooler with highs ranging from 32 C to 36 C through the weekend until Wednesday. All three cities are expected to peak at 36 C on Tuesday.

Overnight Okanagan temperatures are projected to remain around 16 C and 17 C.

There are no current heat warnings in the region from Environment Canada, but there's a chance they will return on Monday or Tuesday next week.

"The thing I'm more worried about is the heat," Lundquist said. "We lost so many people before Canada Day, we need to look after each other and bring people into cooling shelters."

As temperatures drop in the evening, he suggests watching the air quality index and getting outside as the sun lowers.

— This story was updated at 12:10 p.m., July 9, to include information from Kamloops Fire Rescue.

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