St. Catharines Standard, June 2012
Get used to sweltering sunshine and smog, Niagara, because they are sticking around for a while.
Between a smog alert and an excess-heat alert from Niagara Region Public Health, Niagarans were sweating Thursday, but it’s just the beginning. A heat spell has moved into Niagara, and there’s no end in sight, said Environment Canada senior climatologist Dave Phillips.
With the temperature set to soar to or above 30° C for five of the next seven days, he said, it’s weather that will have farmers pining for rain.
“There’s no relief in sight even in the near future,” Phillips said. He said this spell won’t be as harsh as last week’s heat wave, but there will be thick, smoggy air with the humidex running rampant.
But while the last run of scorchers had an end in sight, he said, this one will drag on and on.
“Hey, get used to it. This is the kind of thing we’re going to see this summer,” he said.
The prediction came with Niagara sweltering under 32°C temperatures and a smog advisory, with more to come. And the Region issued an excessive-heat advisory, too, as the humidex soared above 38°C.
The weather’s not so bad if you’re a grape, though.
“Right now, everything’s looking really good,” said Grape Growers of Ontario CEO Debbie Zimmerman. “It’s exceptional quality. We’re just looking at a really good harvest.”
A little rain would be nice, said Grape Growers chair Bill George, but growers are seeing a “vintage year” thanks to the hot, dry conditions.
“Grapes enjoy hot, dry weather. It’s not an issue as far as we’re concerned right now.”
He said the grapes are growing a couple weeks ahead of schedule because of an early spring.
Phillips said rain measurements in Vineland tend to call for 88 millimetres of precipitation in June. As of Thursday, we’ve had 45 millimetres — half of normal.
Meanwhile, Environment Canada declared Thursday a “spare the air day.”
It advised residents to avoid non-essential car trips and refrain from using gas motors, oil paints and aerosols. And it warned that the poor air quality could lead to eye irritation, while exercising could lead to coughing and shortness of breath.