Soaring temperatures in southern Manitoba break 14 weather records, prompt heat warning

Manitoba broke 14 weather records on Friday, with temperatures that soared past 40 C in some areas.

“A lot of these records were set in 1988, so that’s about 30 years ago that we had this last level of heat spell at the beginning of June,” said Sara Hoffman, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada. 

The hottest temperature in the province was recorded in Gretna, which hit a high of 41.3 C — beating the previous record for that day of 36 C set in 1988.

The town of Emerson broke a much older record. The temperature hit 40.6 C on Friday, surpassing the previous record of 36.7 C set on June 4, 1922.

In Winnipeg, the margin was much slimmer. The mercury reached 36.5 C, surpassing the previous record from 1988 by just shy of 1 C.

Hoffman said temperatures this high in the beginning of June aren’t unheard of — but they’re not typical, either.

“I’d say it occurs probably anywhere between once every 20 to 30 years,” she said.

Hoffman expects some records to be broken Saturday as well, though maybe not as many.

Heat warning in effect

The extreme temperatures have prompted a weather alert for the southern part of the province.

The criteria for a high heat warning comes following at least two consecutive days in which temperatures reach a high of at least 32 C and overnight lows no cooler than 16 C.

“That alert lets people know we’re getting into a danger zone, where strenuous activity outside can lead to pretty dangerous health effects like heat stroke or heat injury,” said Hoffman.

Those who are at risk should take note and take precautions, Hoffman said, including the elderly and anyone working or training outdoors. Heat can also be hard on pets and small children.

“Every time you park your car and you’re about to get out, just check the back seat … just make sure you’re leaving no one, no living thing, in the vehicle,” she said. “It’s so dangerous to leave anyone in a vehicle at temperatures this high.”

The provincial government made a few minor amendments to its public health orders earlier this week in anticipation of the heat.

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Dr. Jazz Atwal, deputy chief provincial public health officer, said Friday a recent change to pandemic restrictions to allow operation of splash pads and pools is intended to help vulnerable people stay cool in the extreme heat. He urged people who have access to other ways to keep cool, like air conditioning or private sprinklers, not to use the pools or splash pads to pass the time. 1:07

Manitoba’s health-care system is already burdened by the COVID-19 pandemic, so there is little room for any added strain, said Dr. Jazz Atwal, deputy chief provincial public health officer on Friday.

To provide some relief to those who don’t have access to air conditioning, the health orders were adjusted to allow municipalities to open facilities like libraries and community centres as cooling centres.

It’s also allowed for the opening of spray pads, outdoor swimming pools and wading pools at community centres, hotels, campgrounds and other private businesses.

Temperatures will remain high in coming days

Hoffman says she expects the heat warning to be lifted by Sunday, though it won’t come with any significantly cooler temperatures.

“Maybe it will feel significant given how hot it has been,” she said. “For example, for Morden, we’re forecasting a daytime high of 28 C tomorrow, so that’s not our alert criteria. However, that’s quite warm.”

Temperatures in southern Manitoba are forecast to stay in the high 20s for the next several days.

“If you’re going out for a short walk or just out for a little drive, take water with you,” Hoffman said. 

“You may think you’re invincible to the heat, but no one is.”