Tuesday May 16, 2023 | LANGFORD, BC
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
It’s been dry in April and so far in May. The amount of rain in BC in June will impact the profile of the core wildfire season in July through September. The presence of wind (or not) will make a wildfire severity difference as well.
That’s the official take from the BC Wildfire Service today, as discussed in a media session this morning in mid-May.
On this upcoming May Long Weekend people are asked to be aware of their outdoor behaviours that might spark fires. There’s already enough for BC Wildfire Service to worry about with lightning-caused fires. Human-caused fires are 50 percent of wildfires in BC.
More wildfire starts are expected in the heat of this upcoming holiday weekend (on the heels of what will be four to five days of temperatures about 10 degrees above normal for this time of year). As the high pressure ridge breaks down on Monday there could be rain, but lightning could start fires too, especially with all the recent dry heat having created more “receptive fuels for fires to start to spread”.
“We can’t have human-caused fires as lightning fires are coming in,” said Cliff Chapman, Director, BC Wildfire Operations. Category 2 & 3 restrictions will be in place across BC starting May 18, he said.
People should be careful about how they contribute heat and sparks to grassy and wooded areas when camping (especially when using campfires) and using vehicles near dry forested areas.
14-day forecast range:
Weather forecasting is reliable up to about 14 days, said Chapman. He seemed confident about the seven-day period ahead where the last few days of high heat will relax into cooler days with the potential for rain.
Firefighters on loan to Alberta will be back:
This year — based on forecasts and observation of the limited amount of precipitation this spring (and really continuing from drought of Fall 2022 and into January/February 2023) this year BC did not loan out very many wildfire personnel to Alberta in recent weeks.
In previous years as many as 400 staff have been sent in mutual aid to Alberta. “This time we sent 20,” said Chapman, emphasizing that the one team sent two weeks ago will be back this weekend and ready to work on Monday.
Prepared for the season:
Referring to the severity of the 2017, 2020 and 2021 fire seasons, Chapman said that BC Wildfire Service is confident about preparing for the core wildfire season of 2023. Preparations are now done year-round (e.g. clearing fire fuel from the forest floor in the off season), something which started a few years ago under the NDP government.
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