Just one summer in the past 130 years was hotter than the summer of 2021.
In 1958, Kamloops saw an average temperature of 22.3 C across June, July and August, known as meteorological summer.
This past summer came close — within 0.1 degrees — of tying that record, with an average temperature of 22.2 degrees.
But Kamloops did break its all-time high temperature, when the mercury hit 47.3 degrees on June 29, scorching the previous record of 41.7 on July 16, 1941. There were 50 days in June, July and August in which the mercury exceeded 30 C.
It was also among the top five driest summers, with just 49 millimetres of rain falling across the three months, compared to the average of 93 mm. But the little rain Kamloops did receive made a difference in terms of temperature.
Environment Canada warning preparedness meteorologist Doug Lundquist detailed the summer that was to KTW.
Lundquist said that without the few showers Kamloops received throughout the summer, it would have set a record as the hottest ever, as many other nearby areas did this summer.
The phenomenon that came to be known as the heat dome was responsible for the elevated temperatures in late June and early July — but don’t call it that.
“We use dome in Canada for arctic air, and that’s more of a typical dome, whereas the heat is air rising and falling. ‘Dome’ gives the idea of a boundary and there’s not really a boundary,” Lundquist said.
The heat came from an entrenched ridge of high pressure, Lundquist said, calling it uncharacteristically strong and lasting longer than normal.
Typically, that ridge arrives at the end of August, Lundquist said, but by that time, the sun doesn’t have the power it did in late June, explaining the rarity of the extreme heat seen in late June in B.C.
Lundquist said that while the physical explanation for the heat was the ridge of high pressure, climate change was also another factor in reaching those record highs.
That heat was responsible for a staggering number of deaths over the summer.
The BC Coroners’ Service reported 569 premature deaths in the province due to the heat seen from June 20 to July 29. Those deaths occurred mostly in the Lower Mainland, where air conditioning is less common, but 89 people died in Interior Health over that period.
Lundquist said this year accounted for more weather-related deaths than he’s ever seen in his 34-year career.
Looking ahead to the fall, which is typically difficult to forecast in B.C., Lundquist said that while the current models show a warmer-than-usual meteorological fall under a weak La Nina year, he is reluctant to commit to that forecast.
"Of all the seasons, fall is the least reliable for the seasonal forecast because it's monsoon/typhoon/hurricane season and one big typhoon could change the way the pattern is set up all around the planet," he said.
However, Lundquist did say a colder period is likely in the next couple of weeks, including this week, which is set to be cloudy and rainy in Kamloops.
He also said that coming systems may bring a mix of rain and snow to higher elevations down to 1,200 meters, meaning there's a chance areas just above Aberdeen could receive a temporary coat of snow in the next week or two.