It’s official – the intensity of heat bearing down on the Sunshine Coast since late last week is unprecedented.
All-time record temperatures were broken twice over the weekend, beating out the long-held record of 35.6 C set in 1965.
Temperatures reached 36.9 degrees C in Sechelt and Gibsons on Saturday, June 26 and then soared to 39.6 degrees a day later, according to Environment Canada.
Records in Gibsons have been kept since 1949 and in Sechelt since 1956.
BC Hydro also set a record of its own this weekend – preliminary figures show on Saturday evening peak hourly energy demand in the province hit 7,972 megawatts. The previous record was set Aug. 18, 2020 at 7,897 megawatts.
By Monday the energy provider is predicting demand to reach as high as 8,300 megawatts.
BC Hydro said what makes Saturday’s record “even more unique” was that typically the highest hourly demand occurs on weekdays, since people follow a more routine schedule.
With the ongoing heat wave also comes haze, Environment Canada meteorologist Mike Gismondi told Coast Reporter. “It’s essentially a lot of particulate matter and ozone, basically pollutants stuck in the air because it’s not being circulated a whole lot.” The Metro Vancouver Air Quality Health Index rating stood at moderate on June 28.
On Friday, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) advised the public that “risks from extreme heat exceed risks from COVID-19.”
While the extreme heat alert is in place, VCH said “cooling centres will be open, and no one should be denied access to these centres because of concerns about crowding or physical distancing.”
VCH also said people should remove their masks if they have difficulty breathing, whether indoors or outside, “as wearing a mask may impact thermal regulation during heat events.”
A daytime cooling centre is up and running at the Sechelt Aquatic Centre from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., with operations extended to Tuesday.
A cooling centre has also been opened at the Gibsons and Area Community Centre until 8 p.m. on Monday and on Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Volunteers are helping operate a cooling centre at the Roberts Creek Community Hall, open Monday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., including access for leashed or crated pets.
The two water stations set up in Gibsons, meanwhile, are “getting well used and are appreciated by the community,” said Gibsons Mayor Bill Beamish, who is operating the station in front of Soames Place with his wife.
As of Monday, 10 dozen water bottles have been taken out at the upper Gibsons station alone, as well as water from an insulated container.
The station in lower Gibsons at the bus stop in front of Winegarden Park, operated by the Salvation Army, provides water from an insulated container only.
Some businesses and government operations have also shuttered because of the heat.
Due to the extreme heat Gibsons municipal hall, including the ICBC office, was closed from noon on Monday, June 28 until Tuesday.
In Pender Harbour, the Grasshopper Pub and Liquor Store announced Sunday it would close temporarily and resume regular hours on Wednesday, “due to extreme heat and not wanting to kill our staff.”
Looking ahead, Gismondi said marine air will “finally push in” on Tuesday, bringing cooler temperatures with it for Wednesday, Thursday and beyond. “But we’re still looking at fairly high [temperatures], summertime-like weather” through the rest of the week, he said.