MONTREAL | Quebec residents are accustomed to heat waves in the summer, but it remains that the climate of the last days is something that is both historic and worrying.
“It is an epidemic of records that we are experiencing in this moment!” said the meteorologist Gilles’brien, referring to the COVID-19, but also to the low number of rainfall for the month of June, for the duration of this heat wave and smog warnings in many regions because of forest fires.
All these weather phenomena are more complicated to manage in the context of a pandemic. For example, the wearing of the mask makes the heat even more suffocating, according to Mr. Brien.
“The mask is reduced oxygenation. We breathe more CO2, which is not good,” added the scientist, which is, however, not ready to discourage the wearing of the covers-face outside the time of the heat wave, leaving the public health care focus on this issue.
Gilles’brien is concerned of the effects that could have the heat and the poor air quality on people who are currently fighting the coronavirus.
It is also a concern that more people than usual staying alone at home, often without air conditioning, for fear of catching the COVID-19.
Poor air quality
On Sunday, the mercury should climb up to 32 degrees in Montreal. It announces a possibility of isolated thunderstorms in the coming days, but the weather should remain generally warm and dry until Friday.
In fact, it is not so much the heat and the smog that fact that this month of June will go down in history.
“It is not common to have two heat waves in the month of June like this year, but this is not of the unknown no more,” said Peter Kimbell, meteorologist at Environment Canada.
The month is not finished, but for the moment, the average temperature does not exceed the figures of June 1999 and 2005, in Montreal.
The smog, a result of the forest fire in the region of Kamouraska, is more alarming for the time being in the Greater Montreal area. Environment Canada has issued a notice on Sunday and does not recommend any physical activity outside.
With this cocktail weather, the number of hospitalizations for respiratory problems will certainly climb in the next few days.
“It is always what we notice after the fact. In 2012, there were forest fires in Quebec and we had seen the impact up to Baltimore,” noted Dr. Pierre Gosselin, a consulting physician for the climate of the Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ).
It is expected that this increase is even more marked in the regions of the north and east of Quebec, where the temperatures of the last few days have been sometimes even higher than Montreal, which is not custom.
Indeed, the low rates of air conditioning in some regions could complicate things. While in the Outaouais and in Montreal, more than 70 % of the people have an air conditioning system, they are barely 40 % in some regions, such as Quebec and the Saguenay, ” said Dr. Gosselin.
“People are not equipped, and in addition, this heat wave arrives very early in the year: the people have not had time to get used to. Usually, it takes six to eight weeks for the human body to adapt to a new temperature”, he added.
Anyway, because of climate change, everyone in Quebec must realize that the episodes of intense heat and smog will be more numerous over the next few years.
“In 20 to 30 years, there will be three times as many days over 30 degrees on average per year over the period between 2000 and 2010,” said Dr. Gosselin.
It is, therefore, to say that in Montreal that, in 2050, there will be on average 45 days scorching like the one Sunday per year, 20 in Quebec city.