FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — As feared by firefighters, and local area farmers and ranchers, the regional airport weather station has posted another below average monthly precipitation total for April — the tenth one in the last fiscal year.
At 12.5 millimetres, it was only 62.5 per cent of the local average and only one quarter of the 50.1 millimetres received in the same month last year.
It raises the year-to-date total to 75.6 millimetres, about 12 millimetres below the norm for the first four months of the year. It also leaves the total for the last twelve months at 344.5, and that’s 100 millimetres, or close to four inches, below the local area annual average.
In addition, high temperatures in the region are expected to get back into the mid-to-high-twenties again this afternoon, and very close to where they were when the local wildfire problems began two weeks ago today.
Recall the airport posted an all-time April high of 28.5 degrees on April 18. While the May record of 31.8 set on April 29, 198, seems safe, new daily record highs are possible today and especially tomorrow.
Environment Canada started the week and the month yesterday predicting highs of 27 degrees today and tomorrow and the May 2 and May 3 records are 27.2 set in 1945, and 21.1 set in 1944.
The weather agency has not yet forecast a sustained wind velocity of 60 kilometres per hour, with gusts to 75. This was the case on April 18, when it represented a key source of fire problems — which began then and continue now.
However, the bureau’s weekend wind monitor recorded sustained winds reaching more than 35 kilometres per hour, with gusts up to 50, and that was enough for wildfire activity to start to pick up again.
The provincial Wildfire Agency April report has the total number of wildfires in B.C.’s six fire centres for the first month of the fire season, at 181.
The total burn area at more than 15,700 hectares is nearly 44 percent of the fire total, and 94 percent of the burn total recorded in the Prince George Fire Centre. Much of it in the Peace Region.