Feelin’ hot, hot, hot in southern Manitoba as soaring temperatures stoke stormy potential

By | June 16, 2020

As a hot, humid air mass pushed into the province Tuesday, people in southeastern Manitoba discovered that the coronavirus pandemic has even affected how we can keep cool.

That extends to a visit to the Central Park spray pad, which was exactly what Aurelia Kioussis, 7, needed Tuesday as temperatures in Winnipeg climbed above 30 C.

She says staying two metres from kids who aren’t in her family at the spray pad is tough, but she has a trick to make sure she keeps her distance.

“I think about the coronavirus. Just its name, and that reminds me of what I need to do.”

Environment Canada issued an advisory on Tuesday for southeastern Manitoba, including Winnipeg, cautioning of a hot, humid period for the region.

Daytime highs above 32 C and overnight lows around 20 C prompted the agency to issue a heat warning on Tuesday evening in a weather alert.

Heat warnings in effect for:

  • City of Winnipeg.
  • Portage la Prairie, Headingley, Brunkild and Carman.
  • Morden, Winkler, Altona and Morris.
  • Steinbach, St. Adolphe, Emerson, Vita and Richer.
  • Dugald, Beausejour and Grand Beach.
  • Whiteshell, Lac du Bonnet and Pinawa.
  • Sprague and Northwest Angle Provincial Forest.

CBC meteorologist John Sauder forecast another hot and windy day Wednesday, with a high of 32 C in Winnipeg.

Children play at the Central Park spray pad on Tuesday as temperatures climbed past 30 C. (Sam Samson/CBC)

There won’t be much relief at night, either. Sauder forecasts an overnight low on Tuesday into Wednesday of 24 C — the normal daytime high for this time of year. The normal overnight low is 11 C.

It will also be windy, with gusts expected to reach 50 km/h at times on both Tuesday and Wednesday. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has made handling that heat a challenge. City pools aren’t expected to open until July 3 at the earliest. All of Winnipeg’s spray pads are open except for one, but washrooms are closed.

Normally, city buildings would open as cooling centres, allowing people to get out of the heat, but the city closed many to the public to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Some libraries are open, but only for pickup services.

WATCH | Finding ways to beat the heat in southeastern Manitoba:

Temperatures are expected to surpass 30 C again Wednesday, with humidex values that will make it feel hotter, close to 36 C, Environment Canada forecasts. 2:15

Now, shelters are trying to keep up with the demand for a cool place to stay.

The executive director of the Main Street Project, which provides shelter and other services to the homeless, said the organization is rolling out its hot weather strategy.

Staff will be distributing water, while the main shelter at 190 Disraeli Freeway is an air-conditioned building that will be open for anyone to cool off, said Rick Lees. 

The City of Winnipeg said during a news conference on Tuesday afternoon that officials are working on a hot weather strategy.

End Homelessness Winnipeg also released a list of places people can go to cool off during the day.

Seniors have fewer places they can go to cool off, too. Older adults are susceptible to health problems in the heat, but senior centres are limiting capacity in the name of physical distancing.

The St. James Assiniboia 55+ Senior Centre can normally accommodate up to 100 people for programming. Now the doors are locked, and staff are only allowing six people to book appointments to drop by.

“I do worry about our seniors,” said Meaghan Wilford, the centre’s executive director.

“This would be a great place for them to come and cool down, and stay connected. With social isolation, it has been a hard few months for them staying away from others — and now they have to stay away from the heat.

“So it is a big worry for them, socially and physically.”

Storms possible

With the heat comes the potential for thunderstorms, with the risk of thunderstorms late Tuesday afternoon, and the chance of a storm again Wednesday, Sauder said.

Environment Canada warned that “areas in southeastern Manitoba affected by recent heavy rains may see more torrential rainfall,” including “narrow bands of training thunderstorms resulting in significant rainfall accumulation” on Wednesday.

Meteorologists with the agency issued several thunderstorm warnings and watches across central Manitoba on Tuesday evening. They are tracking a line of severe storms extending across Lake Winnipeg, south of Berens River, moving northeast at 40 km/h.

Severe thunderstorm warnings in effect for:

  • Berens River.
  • Poplar River.

Storm warnings are issued when large hail, damaging winds or torrential rainfall are imminent or likely to occur.

Severe thunderstorm watches in effect for:

  • Arborg, Hecla, Fisher River, Gypsumville and Ashern.
  • Little Grand Rapids, Bloodvein and Atikaki Provincial Park.
  • Grand Rapids and Waterhen.
  • Swan River, Duck Mountain and Porcupine Provincial Forest.

In a weather alert, Environment Canada said the conditions are favourable for dangerous storms capable of producing strong wind gusts and large hail, in addition to lots of rain. The storms are expected to continue throughout the night.

A cold front is expected to move through the province Wednesday night, bringing a return to more seasonal temperatures and humidity.

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