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This article was published 2/7/2021 (406 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Communities across the province boiled in record heat Friday, with 38 weather stations noting their hottest July 2 on record.
Heat warnings were in effect in almost all of Manitoba as a heat wave enveloped the province in temperatures up to 36 C. Winnipeg fell just short of its record at 33 C.
At Provencher Park spray pad, Teri-Lynn Fiorante stood in the shade and tried to keep cool as her children played in the water. A group of girls ran through an arch shooting mist downward as a one-year-old tottered after them, eventually stopping to fill her purple pail with water and drinking from it.
For Fiorante, the spray pad is more than a fun place for her children; it had nearly become a necessity.
"Our air conditioning broke in the first heat wave," she said. "This has been really crucial."
She travelled to the park from Fort Garry because there’s no spray pad near her house, Fiorante said. Neighbours have even started a petition to the city to have one built, she added.
At Elmwood Park, Jamie Haluik sat on the edge of the wading pool while her seven-year-old, Paige, kicked herself around the shallows on an inflatable doughnut.
Haluik said having the wading pool is helpful to cool off on hot days, but it’s also a good place for her daughter to socialize.
"It’s so important," she said. "This is kind of our community."
Manitoba’s heat wave is not a localized phenomenon. It began as a ridge of high pressure in British Columbia, said Natalie Hasell, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada. Since then, it has spread across much of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario.
"It is unusual," said Hasell. "We don’t normally see a system that covers two-thirds of the country. Not in this way."
Hasell said Friday she didn’t have the long-term statistics on hand, but doesn’t believe she’s seen heat events "last for this long in the same locations."
In B.C., the town of Lytton set all-time Canadian heat records three days in a row: topping out at 49.5 C. It culminated in tragedy, as tinder-dry conditions contributed to a wildfire that has destroyed most of the town.
Hasell said Manitoba will not reach those temperatures in this heat wave, but thinks it’s possible for future weather events.
"Theoretically speaking, there’s no reason why southern Manitoba couldn’t see 50 C, because we’ve already seen 40 C," she said.
Dry conditions and hot weather have put Manitoba at risk of forest fire, as well. The Manitoba Wildfire Service said 13 new wildfires have started since Sunday, with lightning expected to cause more.
Most are east of Lake Winnipeg, and there are multiple wildfires in Ontario powering smoke that can be seen in the Whiteshell, Nopiming and Atikaki provincial parks.
Smoke from such fires can cause air quality trouble, but even without it, hot air can cause problems, said Hasell. Hot air moves so slowly, it gets stale; in urban centres where pollution lingers, that can spell trouble, she added.
Health Canada says on its website older adults, infants and young children, people with chronic illness, people who work in the heat and people experiencing homelessness are amongst those at highest risk for health problems due to heat. (Hasell said pregnant women should be added to the list.)
Hasell also warned people not to leave children or animals in cars during hot days. Temperatures inside a vehicle can rise quickly to dangerous, even deadly, levels, she said.
Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review West. He is a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, sleuth, sloth, reader of books and lover of terse biographies. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at 204-697-7206.