As people get ready to enjoy there long weekend, parts of the Cariboo region can add being under a severe thunderstorm watch to the heat warning the area is already under.

The watch includes the Quesnel and Williams Lake areas and was put in place earlier today (Friday).

Bobby Sekhon, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said that a ridge of high pressure on the move is responsible for the possible showers.

“We’ve basically had this ridge of high pressure in place, which has given us some really pleasant weather over the week,” he said. “This ridge is shifting eastward, and the impulse is coming through. That’s going to set off some potentially severe thunderstorms in the Central Interior, Chilcotin area.”

“With a severe thunderstorm watch, our criteria requires us to have wind gusts of 90 km/h or greater, or two-centimetres of hail or greater, or downbursts of over 25 millimetres in one hour,” Sekhon said when talking about what makes a thunderstorm severe. “Also, with a severe thunderstorm watch, it’s basically all the ingredients are there for a severe thunderstorm, but it will only become a warning once we see that its imminent.”

He noted that the criteria for a severe thunderstorm changes in different parts in B.C. as dryer areas like the Okanogan valley have a lower threshold than in Northern B.C. He also noted that having both a heat warning and a severe thunderstorm watch is an unusual situation.

“It’s one of those unique situations where we have both a severe thunderstorm watch and a heat warning in place,” he said. “The criteria for a heat warning is two consecutive days of 29 or higher, along with an overnight minimum between those days of 14 degrees or higher. That criteria still exist for the next day or two, we have both those alerts in effect.”

Sekhon said that by the time work week rolls around next week, things should be cooling off.

“It’s really as we get into Monday that the trough comes through with cooler air,” he said. “We will see it cool off then with showers and thunderstorms, and then rebounding temperatures on Tuesday back to average.”

Sekhon said that this long weekend should look pretty good.

“We will have highs in the upper 20’s and lows in the mid-teens, so quite pleasant warm weather, but as we get into Monday, the end of the long weekend, that’s when we can expect the troughs are coming through with more showers and thunderstorms and cooler weather.”

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