07/16/2012 06:19 EDT | Updated 09/15/2012 05:12 EDT

Canada Summer Heat Only Getting Hotter, Environment Canada Predicts


TORONTO - It's hot and it's going to get hotter.

Environment Canada predicts the uncommonly hot weather that has swept many provinces in recent days is here to stay.

"The longer range models are still indicating that we can expect to see, all the way from the foothills of Alberta, through Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes, warmer than normal conditions for the rest of July and August," says Geoff Coulson, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada.

Coulson says the heat increases the chance of thunder storms, such as the one that struck an Ontario community on the weekend. Seventeen people were sent to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries on Sunday after lightning struck a tent at a local food festival in Whitby, Ont.

Coulson says that kind of weather is "all too common" in southern Ontario during the summer and people should not panic.

"Thunderstorms are no stranger to the month of July," he says, adding that it's important to plan emergency measures in advance, and know where to take shelter.

A car with an all-metal roof is a good idea; a tent isn't, Coulson says.

He also advises staying in a sheltered area for 30 minutes after the last rumble of thunder is heard.

"The (Whitby) Ribfest yesterday is just a really good wake-up call for everyone to have that healthy respect for mother nature, pay more attention to their surroundings, listen to the updated forecast and be ready to find that shelter," Coulson says.

Despite a series of powerful storms moving across the U.S. and Canada, Coulson says that such weather is nothing out of the ordinary.

"This is traditionally our busy time of year when it comes to this type of weather," he says, adding that the U.S. typically sees about 1,000 tornadoes each year, and Canada about 80.

"We fully understand that at this time of year, every Canadian wants to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather at things like Ribfest, concerts, camping, and hiking," he says. "But it's important, both in extreme situations like thunder storms and in high heat, to take health and safety into account."

While the whole country can expect the mercury to continue to skyrocket, Southern Ontario is being hit with a particularly harsh dose of sweltering heat.

The region can expect temperatures to hit the mid- to high-30s Tuesday, with a humidex approaching 45C.

Coulson says it's too early to tell at this point whether the warmer weather will stretch into the winter.

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