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Heat wave saw temperatures in Cowichan soar to new heights

Heat expected to drop to normal summer temperatures by mid week
Eddie Marchant, 17, of Lake Cowichan, does a backflip into the Cowichan River. In the words of photographer Kathryn Swan, “I flipped myself when I noticed him balanced on the top rail of the dock, his back to the river, and then flipping backwards up and out and into the river with barely a splash.” (Kathryn Swan photo)

The Cowichan Valley set some new heat records during the blistering heat wave that struck the area over the weekend.

Environment Canada’s weather station in the Valley, which is located in Duncan, recorded a temperature of a whopping 39.2 C on Sunday, which obliterated the previous heat record of 33.1 for the region that was set in 2015.

That was after a high of 38.3 C on Saturday, with temperatures expected to continue in the high 30s until late on Tuesday. Forecasts were calling for the highest temperatures to be on Monday afternoon, after the Gazette’s press time.

Terri Lang, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said that while there is no weather station in Lake Cowichan, the area is further inland than Duncan so it’s possible that temperatures there could have been three to five degrees higher than Duncan over the weekend.

Lang said the temperatures are expected to gradually decrease to the mid to high 20s starting Wednesday into Thursday.

“It’s not forecast to cool right off, but it will be less hot than on the weekend,” she said.


As for the long-rage forecast for the summer in the Cowichan Valley, Lang said that’s the million-dollar question as Environment Canada’s forecasts only predict for 10 days into the future.

“But, overall, it is supposed to be drier and warmer than average this summer, although that doesn’t mean we won’t get some rain,” she said.

Asked if the intense heat is indicative of climate change, Lang said Environment Canada can’t point to just one reason for the higher than normal temperatures.

“But the hot and dry weather is consistent with forecasts for global warming in which we can expect to see more extreme temperatures that will last for longer periods of time,” she said.

Lake Cowichan Mayor Bob Day said, while he doesn’t have any official numbers, it was reported to him that the temperatures in the community had reached 43 C on Sunday.

He said the board that runs the Lake Cowichan 50+ Centre had opened the centre’s doors to allow people, especially those with no air conditioning at home, to get cool during the heat wave.

Day also said, as during many other times of emergency in the community, people gathered at Lake Cowichan’s only grocery store, Country Grocer, to shop and cool down in its air conditioning.

“Of course we’re lucky here to also have a great river and lake for people to cool down in,” Day said.

“But I encourage people to please be safe while on or near the water and avoid accidents. The town’s citizens are advised to stay hydrated and cool and if you can’t escape the heat, try to stay indoors.”

BC Hydro also set another new record for the highest summer peak hourly demand, the hour customers use the most electricity, on Sunday night, breaking a new record set on Saturday.


Preliminary analysis found consumption reached 8,106 megawatts, which was more than 100 megawatts higher than the new summer record that was set on Saturday.

Monday’s peak hourly demand was expected to be even higher, with the expectation that it may exceed 8,300 megawatts.

During the weekend, BC Hydro saw some localized outages on its system.

BC Hydro appreciates that any outage can be concerning, but even more so in this extreme heat, the utility said in a press release.

They said Hydro customers can be assured that crews are on standby and working as hard as they can to restore power quickly.

However, the intense heat is adding to what is already an inherently dangerous job for crews.

“They have to follow extra safety protocols due to the heat so in some cases power restoration is taking longer than normal,” the release said.

“BC Hydro has also taken important steps to protect the safety of its customers and employees, including cancelling the majority of planned outages, as well as suspending disconnections for non-payment.”

Due to the heat wave and the lack of air conditioning at the COVID-19 immunization clinic in Ladysmith, Island Health has announced it will temporarily relocate the Aggie Hall location.


People scheduled to receive their COVID-19 vaccine at Aggie Hall on July 1-3 will have their appointments moved to the nearby (12 kms away) immunization clinic at the Cedar Community Centre at 2388 Cedar Rd. in Nanaimo.

Everyone affected will be directly contacted and notified by Island Health.

Their appointment time and date will remain the same.

People without an appointment may walk-in for their first dose at the Cedar Community Centre, or another Island Health immunization clinic.

A full list of clinic locations can be found at

“We acknowledge this may be frustrating for some people and we ask for patience and understanding as we deal with the effects of this extreme weather event,” a press release from Island Health stated.

“Island Health continues to monitor the situation and conditions at other mass immunization clinics. There are no changes planned at any other immunization clinics at this time.”

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Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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