Extreme heat likely to worsen fire situation this week
The current wildfire situation is likely going to get worse over the next couple of days as an exceptional early-season heat wave continues roasting Western Canada.
May is traditionally the peak of wildfire season in Alberta, but this year’s fires are unlike anything we’ve seen in recent times. An exceptionally dry start to the year combined with multiple early-season heat waves to jumpstart wildfires there at a horrifying pace.
We’ve seen nearly 500 wildfires reported across Alberta so far this year through May 14, collectively burning more than half a million hectares of land across the province. For some perspective, that’s more than one per cent of the province’s total forested area burned in just the past couple of weeks.
A powerful heat wave built over Western Canada this weekend, sending temperatures into the upper 20s to 30s from British Columbia’s Lower Mainland all the way into the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Fort McMurray, Alberta, is in the midst of a several-day streak of high temperatures reaching the 30s. Yellowknife, N.W.T., saw a high of 25°C on Saturday, which is the warmest temperature they’ve ever recorded there so early in the year. The same afternoon saw Arviat, Nunavut, shatter both its daily and monthly May temperature record by a significant margin.
Paired with little hope of meaningful precipitation in at least a week, dried-out fuels throughout the region could easily ignite as bright sunshine, dry air, and hot temperatures persist into the new workweek. Any additional fires—especially large fires—will only produce more smoke that will travel east across the country.
Stay with The Weather Network for the latest on the heat, fires, and smoke across Canada this week.