People from Ontario to Saskatchewan may be finding ways to battle the heat wave today, but a small group of Winnipeggers will monitor the mercury rising as if it were a lottery draw.

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This article was published 17/7/2011 (3716 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

People from Ontario to Saskatchewan may be finding ways to battle the heat wave today, but a small group of Winnipeggers will monitor the mercury rising as if it were a lottery draw.

There is a lot at stake -- $550,000 to be exact.

In March, the owners of North West Wholesale -- a pool and hot-tub company -- took an insurance policy on the weather. This means, if temperatures reach more than 34.5 C at the Richardson International Airport today, people who bought either a pool, hot tub or water heater from the company between March 1 and July 4 will be eligible for a full rebate.

People may have scoffed at the store owners back in March on the gamble they took, but some 80 customers may be laughing their way to the bank, as Environment Canada is predicting a 35 C high for this afternoon.

"I'd like to think there was a lot of science that went into choosing the day, but it really was just a pick of a day," said owner Nelson Barrett. "So when we saw the temperatures soaring this week, that's when we started to realize this could actually happen."

Despite the suspense, Barrett isn’t even keeping an eye on weather websites.

"We’ve got to run the business as well," he said.

Grace Rogoski, a pool buyer who stands to win $10,000 if the mercury hits the magic number, hadn’t checked the weather either since the early morning.

"I’ve been too busy at the office today," she said. But she asked the Free Press to call back if it does get hot enough, and promised she would be screaming into the phone.

If she wins, she says there’s "a hot tub in the back of (her) mind" that might become a reality a little sooner.

Barrett bought North West Wholesale not even two months ago from Pat Maloney, who was the owner for almost 40 years before he retired. He said it was Maloney who came up with the idea in March.

"When we bought the business he said he could cancel the insurance policy -- we said 'No, what a great idea,' " Barrett said. "Now we're so glad we did."

But chances may have been better for Tuesday's weather, as Environment Canada predicts temperatures could be much higher in Winnipeg and southern Manitoba.

The projected high is 37 C, which will most likely prompt the weather agency to issue a humidex advisory, said Environment Canada meteorologist Eric Dykes.

Temperatures are expected to peak Tuesday before hovering at about 30 C for the rest of the week.

Barrett said his staff are preparing for the flood of calls they are expected to get today, but customers won't know officially if they've won the rebate until mid-week.

daniela.germano@freepress.mb.ca