Canada Day long weekend sets heat record

Visitors turned away from Golden Ears park on Saturday as parking lot full

Cheryl Blad runs through the spray from a fire house during the 15th annual Athletes in Kind eight-kilometre Canada Day Race on Monday

It was the hottest Canada Day on record in Pitt Meadows, capping a long weekend that saw scorched Lower Mainland residents swarming to Alouette Lake and other beaches.

However, many latecomers to Golden Ears Provincial Park were turned back at the gate, as the parking lot hit capacity.

On Monday, Pitt Meadows set a daily record for July 1, as the temperature hit 31.4 C.

That was down from Sunday, when the mercury soared to a withering 33.3 at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport. That was not quite a daily record, though, as June 30, 1995 registered 33.9 C.

Saturday was 27.6 C, making for three hot summer days in a row.

Liz Hall, speaking for SSG Holdings Ltd., which operates Golden Ears park, said it is rare but not unusual for the popular park to fill up on a hot weekend. It has 409 camp sites, about 60 per cent of which are rented on a first-come-first-served basis.

“We have to turn people away from the campsite – if they don’t get up there a day or two early, they’re not going to get in,” she said.

There are two big parking lots for the Alouette day-use area. They can accommodate 900 cars, but once they are full, as they were on Saturday, people are turned away.

Hall said two similarly busy weekends at the park will be the B.C. Day long weekend on Aug. 2-4 and the Labour Day end-of-summer long weekend on Aug. 31 to Sept. 2.

Environment Canada meteorologist David Jones explained desert air from the southwestern U.S. settled over B.C., bringing with it desert temperatures.

“This week we’re back to our more pleasant climate – thankfully,” said Jones.

The summertime weather is staying, but the forecast is for mid-20s temperatures through the week, which is the norm for this time of year. It will warm up as the weekend approaches, but not to the extremes seen on the long weekend.

The high for Saturday is forecast to be 26 C.

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