Heat records fall in fall; mercury pushes past 30 C on the Prairies

EDMONTON — At a time when pools are typically being emptied and furnaces fired up for the fall, Prairie folks are swimming and running their air conditioners.

EDMONTON — At a time when pools are typically being emptied and furnaces fired up for the fall, Prairie folks are swimming and running their air conditioners.

Instead of watching leaves drifting from trees, people are desperately seeking shade.

Parts of the region are baking in the warmest September ever, with heat records falling in Alberta and Saskatchewan daily.

Call it summer delayed.

“This is Phoenix North,” said Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips.

“This is the time of year when you should be worrying about the killing frost or the first dusting of snow, instead of temperatures that are the warmest of the year,” he said. “I mean, you’ve never had temperatures this warm so late in the year.”

In Edmonton on Wednesday — the first full day of autumn — temperatures were forecast to hit 33 C.

If achieved, it would not only be the hottest Sept. 22 on record, Phillips said, it would be the hottest day this year — and within a few degrees of the hottest day ever in the city. Temperatures reached 35.6 C at the Edmonton International Airport in August 2008, the warmest reading ever taken at that location.

And it’s not just a one-day phenomenon.

So far, September 2009 has been the hottest September on record. Prior to Wednesday, the temperature had cracked the 30-C mark seven times this year in Edmonton, Phillips said. The warmest three days came after August.

“No matter which way you cut it, it is quite spectacular,” Phillips said. “This is your summer.”

It was supposed to be even hotter in Calgary, where the mercury was forecast to rise to 34 C.

At Oasis Pools and Spas, at least half a dozen people had called to postpone their pool closures.

“A lot of them who get them closed now are waiting a few weeks,” said Myrtle Pyne.

Phillips said there’s no way to easily explain why it’s so warm so late in the year.

“Don’t go to El Nino or El Nina or anything Spanish … or climate change. This is just weather out your window.”

Prairies folks should enjoy it while it lasts, he said.

Temperatures are expected to cool to the mid-teens through the weekend.

There’s a good chance Edmonton will see some frost on Monday.