Rare May heat wave brings worries for further floods and fires: emergency minister

VICTORIA — A spell of unseasonably warm weather forecast for British Columbia is raising concerns for further flooding and fires.  

Emergency Management Minister Bowinn Ma says the heat will impact the pace of snowmelt, which has already pushed river levels near or over their banks in several parts of central and southeastern B.C. 

Dave Campbell, with the B.C. River Forecast Centre, said in a briefing on Monday that about three quarters of the snow on the mountains remain and the warm weather may bring further flooding. 

Ma says the unusual heat also elevates the risks of wildfires burning in B.C. 

There are more than 50 fires burning in B.C., most of them in the north and central part of the province, and three wildfires have prompted evacuation orders or alerts for nearby residents. 

Ma says the forecast does not call for a heat dome like the one that killed hundreds of people in the summer of 2021, but heat can still be a risk to human health and the government is able to support communities by opening cooling centres if needed. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 9, 2023. 

The Canadian Press

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