At the moment, Yorkton can feel like an oven cranked to the highest setting and left to roast. The town, along with the rest of Saskatchewan, is in the midst of a punishing heat wave. However, a break might be coming in the near future.
Over the last few days, temperatures in Yorkton have soared to well over 30 degrees during the day, while only falling to the high- to mid-teens in the evening. While there’s more hot weather barreling down on us, we might be close to snapping free from it.
Terri Ling, the Warning Preparedness Meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC), said a cool front will be rolling through Yorkton on Saturday, hopefully dropping the temperature from its perilous heights. Ling, a former Yorktonite, said it won’t feel like a big change on the day, since Saturday is scheduled to be the hottest of the week (reaching the mid- to high-thirties), but it should cool things down.
Ling said the high heat isn’t uncommon in Saskatchewan (the province has recorded big temperatures in the past), but this summer is hotter than recents ones.
“Certainly it’s been building up,” she said.
Ling said that while the weather has been scorching, it could be even hotter if not for an unexpected assist from smoke.
A thick haze currently hangs over Yorkton. It’s wildfire smoke from British Columbia and Alberta that’s inched its way eastward. It clings to Yorkton like a blanket, shielding the town from the sun’s full rays. The smoke dulls the sun’s impact.
“Without the smoke, it’d be unbearably hot,” Ling said.
But the smoke is a blessing and a curse. According to Ling, during the night the earth releases the heat it collects during the day, allowing things to cool off. Yorkton’s smoke layer prevents the heat from completely escaping, which accounts for our unusually warm evenings. The smoke is stopping the ground from releasing its accumulated heat.
The combination of smoke and heat does more than wrap Yorkton in a toasty blanket. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures and smoke can harm the human body’s respiratory functions, particularly for the elderly, the young, and asthmatics.
“It’s difficult for those folks,” Ling said. “Over a longer period of time, [heat exposure] adds up.”
While Yorkton rides out the heat wave, ECCC recommends taking regular breaks from direct heat, frequent hydration, and rescheduling outdoor activities for cooler hours in the day.
“Generally we tell people to avoid the heat if they can,” Ling said.