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Back to school won't be cool

By Dan Brown, The London Free Press

(Free Press file photo)

(Free Press file photo)

It turns out the weather gods do have a sense of humour.

Just as the thoughts of Londoners are turning to back to school, a time of year usually accompanied by cooler temperatures, things will heat up in Southwestern Ontario.

Over the Labour Day long weekend and into early next week — when local kids head back to class — temperatures will soar, with values verging on 30 C and Humidex readings of about 40 C. At a time when fall is looming, it’s going to be downright muggy.

“I don’t think anybody’s going to quibble if you want to call this a heat wave,” said Geoff Coulson, a warning-preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada.

According to Coulson, normal daily highs for the beginning of September are 23 C.

But this time around, we’ll be flirting with heat-alert conditions. In fact, Coulson said he wouldn’t be surprised to see heat warnings issued in the Windsor and Chatham areas, which are typically a degree or two warmer than the Forest City.

“There is a possibility it could be close to the criteria (for a heat alert),” he said. Alerts are issued when there are two days of temperatures of 31 C or higher when the low doesn’t go below 20 C at night.

Coulson said he has heard of children in Northern Ontario — where classes resumed this week — wanting an extra week of summer vacation because of sweltering conditions in school.

The weather agency also is calling for unsettled conditions as the long weekend comes to a close, which could come in the form of thunderstorms and accompanying high winds. On Thursday this week, Coulson got reports of nickel-sized hail and winds of 95 km/h in some regions of the Southwest.

The muggy long weekend is the capper of a summer that Coulson calls “a complete switcheroo.

“I think it was a summer of trends,” he added.

There were long stretches of cooler-than-normal temperatures in June and August, which were paradoxically broken up by sporadic heat waves. This meant overall average values remained in the normal range, and only now are Southwestern Ontarians getting the prolonged muggy conditions they associate with a typical summer. “That’s what people tend to expect,” Coulson said.

Coulson notes there have been six tornadoes so far this summer in Ontario. But with the storm season extending into early October, that total could still change.

Those who are fans of summer should enjoy the warm weather while it lasts.

“It actually does look pretty nice, maybe not for those who are not fans of heat and humidity,” Coulson said.


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