File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS Curtis Cassidy, of Donalda, wrestles a steer during rodeo action at the Calgary Stampede in Calgary in 2016. Temperatures are expected to soar above 30 C Friday when the 10-day event begins.

Stampede expected to be a scorcher

CALGARY — It’s going to be a scorcher of a Stampede.

Temperatures are expected to soar above 30 C on Friday, when Calgary kicks off its annual 10-day celebration of all things cowboy, and hover there throughout the weekend.

David Phillips, a senior climatologist at Environment Canada, said it’s looking like the hot, sunny weather will stick around for the duration of the event and there could very well be no rain the whole time.

It’s a stark contrast to last year’s Stampede, when it rained all but one day and the city got five times more precipitation than usual.

“This is quite startling,” said Phillips. “It’s almost as if Mother Nature realized that she made a big mistake last year and she’s trying to make up for it in spades.”

Normal temperatures for Calgary around this time of year are about 24 C. A typical summer in the city normally averages only five days over 30 C.

Phillips said this heat wave seems to be a persistent one.

“This thing is not going to go away. It’s going to be a rather delightfully boring kind of period of weather where it’s going to be lots of sunshine, warm temperatures and very dry conditions,” he said.

Chuckwagon races and rodeo events are major draws during the Stampede, so it will be important to make sure animals are faring well in the heat, said Stampede spokeswoman Kristina Barnes.

“Much like any high performance athlete, it’s a matter of monitoring them, watching them very, very closely and then administering to those needs that they have,” she said.

Chuckwagon barns have misters and big industrial fans to keep horses cool and there’s plenty of water for the livestock, Barnes said.

Some drivers have their own techniques, such as ice baths or cooling boots for their horses.

And efforts are being made to haul animals early in the morning or late in the day when it’s cooler.

“Certainly their owners are very, very aware of the care that they need and they want the very best for them,” said Barnes.

For human beings enjoying the grounds, spokesman Larry Lalonde recommends taking advantage of air-conditioned indoor spaces and seeking out misting stations. Outside non-alcoholic beverages are allowed in, so there’s no reason not to stay hydrated.

In addition to the chuckwagon races and rodeo, the Stampede grounds also feature various deep-fried confections, midway games, carnival rides and concerts.

For spectators aiming to stay cool on the grounds or during Friday’s parade through downtown, Lalonde recommends a signature western accessory.

“A cowboy hat is a great way to put a bit of shade on your head and shoulders.”

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