Lisa Samms-Maxwell of Langley Lodge spoke to Dave Hassett while handing out water and popsicles Friday during high temperatures. Langley Lodge was helping locals keep cool. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Lisa Samms-Maxwell of Langley Lodge spoke to Dave Hassett while handing out water and popsicles Friday during high temperatures. Langley Lodge was helping locals keep cool. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

Year in Review: Heat dome took toll on seniors

Almost two dozen local deaths were attributed to the heat wave

For many in Langley, late June was the first time they had ever heard the term “heat dome.”

But within days they would know what it was to live through record-shattering temperatures as part of a heat wave that killed 23 local residents.

On June 23, Environment Canada warned of an “exceptionally strong” ridge of high pressure heading for B.C. that would make parts of the province dangerously warm.

Daytime temperatures were expected to be in the high 30s Celsius for the Lower Mainland.

In fact, they shot up above that. The Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley saw temperatures hit 40 Celsius or higher, and in Lytton, Canada saw a new all-time record of 46.6 Celsius – just before a wildfire began on June 30, wiping much of Lytton off the map.

Within Langley, the oppressive heat led local governments to encourage people to keep cool and to head to free, air conditioned locations such as libraries.

However, the heat was too much for some people, particularly elderly seniors without air conditioning.

On Monday, June 28, as temperatures peaked in Langley, the RCMP responded to the sudden deaths of eight local seniors.

All were over the age of 70 and had died abruptly, according to Cpl. Holly Largy, spokesperson for the Langley RCMP.

That number compared to a single sudden death the day before the temperatures spiked above 40.

Temperatures eased after Tuesday, June 29, but the damage had been done.

A B.C. Coroner’s Report in the fall would find that 23 people died in Langley, and almost 600 had died across the province.

READ ALSO: Heat dome killed 23 people in Langley – B.C. Coroner

READ ALSO: Nearly 600 people died due to summer heat waves – B.C. Coroners Service

When temperatures spiked again at the end of July, Langley Lodge was one of the organizations and groups that tried to help out directly, by offering water and Popsicles to passersby, especially seniors.

B.C. saw consistently high temperatures and dry weather through from June to mid-August, when cooler weather with occasional showers began across the Lower Mainland.

The heat also caused serious concerns for farmers, with berries in some parts of the province practically cooking on the vines, or reducing yields and quality.

Although no single weather event can be definitively said to be caused by climate change, global warming made such events more likely, B.C. leaders acknowledged.


Have a story tip? Email: matthew.claxton@langleyadvancetimes.com

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Climate crisisFraser HealthHeat waveLangley