Brief August heat wave forecast to end on Saturday

The smell of jerk chicken lingered in the air Friday as dark plumes from the grill mixed with smoke passing over Edmonton from B.C. wildfires.

On the first day of the Cariwest Caribbean Arts Festival, the city had the weather to match.

“Oh, this is phenomenal,” said Rajiv Ramlal, taking a break from the barbecue, where he was preparing for festival crowds at the Federal Plaza Building downtown. “I’m originally from Trinidad, so I’m used to this.”

The mercury peaked at 34 C on Friday, prompting heat warnings for most of central and southern Alberta.

Geromar Jean-Paul, left, and Yngreed Fevrier lean out of the Haitian Fritay food truck. (CBC)

The heat was welcome news for festival vendors, bringing out patrons who had to make difficult decisions between, for example, Jamaican patties or fried plantain.  

“With us being tropical and with great food and the heat, they go together,” Geromar Jean-Paul said through the window of her Haitian food truck.

The average August high in Edmonton is around 22 C. Meteorologists in the city haven’t recorded temperatures above 30 in a decade.

While the weather was good news for the festival, it posed a danger for the city’s most vulnerable people.

Staff at Boyle Street Community Centre hand out water during the unseasonably warm weather on Friday. (CBC)

Staff at the Boyle Street Community Centre were busy handing out water bottles in the mid-afternoon heat.

Sindi Addorisio, the centre’s drop-in manager, said she would like to see more public water fountains and cooling centres around the city, similar to those in Toronto and Montreal.

“Imagine being in [the heat] and having no escape from it all day every day,” she said. “You get irritable. You get cranky. You don’t get the right access to food, shelter, water. It’s unbearable.”

Sindi Addorisio, drop-in manager at Boyle Street, said she wants to see more public water fountains and cooling centres in downtown Edmonton. (CBC)

The forecast offered some relief for those hoping to escape the heat.

The mercury was expected to plummet to 22 C on Saturday before falling to an unseasonably chilly high of 17 C on Sunday. Periods of rain were expected throughout the weekend.

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