WATCH: Above-average temperatures and dry conditions forecast for Greater Victoria this summer, leading to an increased wildfire risk. Tess van Straaten has the details.
It’s not even summer, but temperatures sure are sizzling on Vancouver Island.
“It’s unusual to the tune of about 10 degrees warmer than normal,” says Environment and Climate Change Canada meteorologist Armel Castellan. “We saw it in May, we saw it for almost a full month, and now we’re seeing again for the second half of June.”
And it looks like the warmer ? and drier ? trend will continue all summer, according to Environment Canada’s seasonal forecast.
“It’s talking about warmer than normal averages over the course of June, July and August and now we’re even looking at September being in that same realm,” explains Castellan. “July is the strongest anomaly. We have over a 90 per cent chance of seeing above normal temperatures.”
That doesn’t mean it will be heatwave-hot, like the last few days, all summer. But temperatures at least a couple degrees above seasonal and long stretches of sunshine without any precipitation are being forecast.
With all the dry weather, there’s a higher-than-normal wildfire risk for much of western Canada this summer, including B.C. And with conditions already tinder-dry on southern Vancouver Island, officials are urging caution.
“Things are drying out so quickly and that’s really our big concern right now ? people don’t realize the surface of the soil is so dry that pretty much any spark could pick up and carry,” says Donna MacPherson of the Coastal Fire Centre.
After the devastating 2017 fire season that saw raging wildfires burn more than 1.2 million hectares, leading to a state of emergency and making it the worst fire season in B.C. history, there’s certainly cause for concern.
There were more than 1,300 fires province-wide last year and while lightning strikes fueled many of the out-of-control blazes in the B.C. Interior, far too many fires on Vancouver Island were human-caused.
“We’re concerned as people go out in the forest they’re losing their wild smarts,” says MacPherson. “If you think about street smarts in the city, people have lost that ability to know what’s reasonable when they’re out in the forest. It is serious business when you’re out there and doing activities out there.”
High-risk activities include driving vehicles and ATVs over dry grass, using fireworks (which are banned right now), tossing cigarettes along the highway or in the backcountry, and not properly putting out campfires because all it takes is one spark.