Little evidence of cooler weather helping fires

The Doig River fire, as seen on May 2. Photo from the BC Wildfire Service.

FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — To date there’s little evidence that the cooler temperatures yesterday and today have done anything to relieve the current Peace Region wildfire situation.

On the first three days of May, the local airport weather station posted highs of 23.1, 28.1, and 25.6 degrees. The last two established new local records.

However, yesterday was considerably cooler with a high of 16 point three, and the forecast suggests today will be much the same.

Still, for firefighters, the west wind and lack of moisture remain a troublesome combination.

Environment Canada put the peak wind gust yesterday at 63 kilometres per hour and has issued a forecast today calling for only a slight improvement at around 40 kilometres per hour.

In addition, the first four days of the month have produced only a trace of rain and while the revised forecast is now calling for some weekend showers Environment Canada meteorologist Lisa Caldwell told us earlier this week, don’t expect them to amount to very much.

What the area could really use in terms of precipitation is what we got on this day last year, which was 0.4 millimetres of rain and a May 5 record of 14.6 centimetres of snow, resulting in a new precipitation record of 15 millimetres.

Instead, what we have is Minister of Forest, Lands and Natural Resources Steve Thomson hoping along with many others, that what we’ve experienced in this area in the past two and half weeks, isn’t an indicator of what lies ahead for rest of the B.C. wildfire season.

Locally there’s plenty of historical data to prove that point, and one only has to go back five years for a classic example.

In 2011, after posting 12.8 millimetres of precipitation in May, the airport weather station recorded 176.5 in June, and then 144.9 in July.

So with that in mind, farmers, ranchers and fire-fighters move forward hoping to on the one hand to seed crops that get enough moisture to grow, and on the other hand, to get the upper the hand, on fires that are growing far too quickly.

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