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Meteorologist looks back at extreme heat in June: ‘Worst weather event of my career’

The final days of June in 2021 were record-setting in not only Kelowna but the rest of the Okanagan
The final three days of June of 2021 in B.C. were record-setting, with temperatures reaching highs of 45-49 C in some parts of the province. (Contributed)

It didn’t take long for 2021 to be a record-breaking weather year in the Okanagan.

From heatwaves to wildfires and finally extreme cold, the last 12 months have had a little bit of everything.

“It was the worst weather disaster year of my career,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist.

Still, there’s one particular event in 2021 that stands out to the 30-year weather pro — the heat events in June.

“We broke the record for the hottest day in Canada for three days in a row,” he recalled.

The community of Lytton set those Canadian records, before it burned to the ground in an out-of-control wildfire.

The final days of June were record-setting in not only Kelowna but the rest of the Okanagan with Penticton and Summerland both recording temperatures of 42.5 C on June 28 and 29, respectively.

READ MORE: Penticton and Summerland break all-time heat records for third time

But it was Kelowna who made the national headlines as the month of July inched closer in 2021.

“Kelowna had a 45.7 C on June 29, which if it hadn’t been for Lytton, would have been the hottest day in Canada,” Lundquist said.

Lytton recorded a temperature north of 49 C on the same day, officially becoming the hottest place in the northern part of the Northern Hemisphere.

“I think that temperature is hotter than it’s ever been in Las Vegas,” he added. “I’ll never forget that day.”

READ MORE: 90% of Lytton destroyed in wildfire, injuries reported

The previous Canadian heat record was set 80 years ago in Yellow Grass, Sask. Waiting another 80 years isn’t something Lundquist thinks is bound to happen.

“With climate change, we expected that at some point,” he explained.

“It is of course surprising that we broke all-time highs for Canada but the timing of it was perfect at its highest sun angle. It came just a few days after the summer solstice and usually, it takes until July or August to get that (kind of heat).”

Lundquist added that over 100 lives were lost in the Interior as a result of the heat in June.

“In British Columbia, that was the worst event of my career and I’ve been doing this for 30 years.”


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