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August heat wave: Calgary could break all-time high temperature on Friday

Last Updated Aug 9, 2018 at 3:00 pm PDT

A heat wave is sweeping across much of Western Canada that could see all-time high temperature records fall in some places, including Calgary.

The Weather Network’s all-time high for Calgary is 36.1 C, which was set in 1919 and matched again in 1933.

The network was forecasting 37 C on Friday, although it notes smoke from wildfires in the area could prevent the record from being broken.

“The complicating factor is how much smoke will there be, which limits the intensity of the sun and just how warm you can get,” said the Weather Network’s Doug Gillham.

Environment Canada was forecasting a temperature of 36 C on Friday in Calgary — 14 degrees warmer than normal.

David Phillips, a senior climatologist at Environment Canada, said that Friday’s temperatures will clobber the previous daily record for Aug. 10 in Calgary of 32.2 C set in 1928.

“No question about it, we’re under a big dome,” Phillips said. “It’s like taking the lid on a barbecue and just putting it right over Western Canada and then cooking all that meat underneath.”

In Saskatchewan, highs of 35 C were forecast in Regina on Friday and 38 C on Saturday. Phillips said that’s 12 degrees higher than normal.

Parts of Manitoba are expected to reach 36 C on Saturday and 35 C on Sunday.

Gillham said there’s not a single reason for the heat wave, but a strong ridge of high pressure in the mid- and upper-levels of the atmosphere is a contributor.

“When the air dries it can heat up much more efficiently because the sun’s energy is all going into producing heat, not into evaporation,” Gillham said.

Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan president Todd Lewis said that Regina and north of the city will see accelerated crop development as a result of the heat.

“There’s been lots of these crops had typically 100 day growing season and we’re approaching that now and we’ve had some ideal conditions as far as growing and this heat just finishes them off,” Lewis said.

Alberta and Saskatchewan are warning residents about the air quality due to wildfire smoke, while Manitoba issued an extended heat advisory.

Neither Gillham or Phillips were prepared to say that the hot temperatures are the new normal with climate change.

“My sense is that what we’re seeing now is almost like the previous or the dress rehearsal for what our summers will be like 40 years from now,” Phillips said.

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