Wildfire Service Outlook: Rising Fire Threats in Southern B.C. Due to Dry Conditions

Rainfall is crucial over the next three weeks in British Columbia, or the province could be in for another devastating wildfire season, according to the latest outlook from the BC Wildfire Service.

The service says rainfall and temperatures were near normal across the northern half of the province in May, but the same period was significantly drier than average throughout southern B.C.

Warmer and drier conditions are expected to persist in June across most of the south, though the wildfire service outlook says there’s no clear trend for the rest of the province.

“The amount of precipitation received in June typically determines the severity of the fire season for much of B.C.,” the outlook says.

“If the current weather trends continue, we can expect both the frequency and size of fires to increase as grass and other fine fuels start to ‘cure’ or dry out.”

Current wildfire hazard ratings indicate that most of the province is at “very low” or “low” risk, meaning wildfires can start but are unlikely to develop.

The current wildfire danger rating shows most of the province at a ‘very low’ or ‘low’ risk, meaning wildfires can start but are unlikely to grow.

In the Okanagan, there are pockets of ‘high’ to ‘extreme’ fire danger ratings.

The outlook says Kelowna and Vernon just set records for the least amount of spring rainfall, Kamloops saw its second-driest spring in more than a century and many southern communities received less than 40 per cent of expected precipitation.

“If rainfall is received periodically throughout the spring and into June, larger fuels, requiring longer drying periods, are much less likely to ignite, limiting fires to mostly fine fuels,” officials write.

Nearly 300 wildfires have been sparked in B.C. since April 1, which is higher than normal, burning 2,198 hectares of land.

The wildfire service says if the conditions remain the same, southern B.C. can expect an above-average fire season in the Southern Interior.

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