06/28/2013 02:10 EDT | Updated 08/28/2013 05:12 EDT

Heat wave to hit B.C. on Canada Day long weekend: Environment Canada

British Columbia residents will be trading their rain gear for swimwear this long weekend as temperature records as high as 44.4 Celsius could tumble.

A special weather statement issued by Environment Canada has warned residents from Prince George, in central B.C., right down to the Canada/U.S. border that the heat is about to be turned up.

"A massive ridge of high pressure will develop on the Canada Day weekend. The ridge will bring hot air from the desert southwest of the U.S. to the B.C. Interior," the alert said.

Just last week, torrential rains and flooding in the East Kootenay caused some people to evacuate, while rain-swollen rivers in many areas of southeastern B.C. threatened to overflow.

But temperatures this weekend are predicted to pass 32 degrees in many areas of B.C.'s coast.

Forecaster Doug Lundquist said Friday that it will get even hotter in the Okanagan and most of the southern Interior.

"One of my colleagues emailed me and said 'Let's watch that 44.4, the hottest-ever temperature in Lytton and Lillooet.' So that was set in 1941. We could get close," he said.

"There are a lot of cold lakes yet, and some moisture we have to evaporate. But if there was any time of year, this would be it."

Lytton and Lillooet often compete for the temperature hot spots across the country during the peak of summer.

Normally, B.C.'s summer weather doesn't start to heat up until the second week in July. While the heat's early arrival isn't that unusual, the ridge is, Lundquist said.

"This is the type of pattern where we will break records," he said.

"So we're watching for the possibility of maybe breaking the all-time high for B.C."

The hot weather is expected to peak Tuesday and break by Wednesday.

The potential for record heat also worries health officials in B.C.

Health officers from Vancouver Island, Fraser Health and Vancouver Coastal authorities have issued a list of ways to stay cool.

Key advice includes drinking plenty of fluids, staying out of the sun at peak hours, and spending time — several hours if possible — in an air-conditioned facility.

Those most at risk from severe heat are seniors and infants, people with heart, lung or kidney conditions and those who aren't able to leave their homes.

(CKFR, CFJC, The Canadian Press)