Wildfires and smoky skies Canada’s top weather story, Environment Canada

Wildfires and smoky skies Canada's top weather story, Environment Canada

Environment Canada says record wildfire activity and smoky skies is the top weather story in Canada for 2018. File photo.

Environment Canada says record wildfire activity and smoky skies is the top weather story in Canada for 2018. File photo.

Environment Canada says record wildfires and the haze of smoke that blanketed much of the west is the top weather story for 2018, and much of it courtesy of B.C.

In its Top-10 list of weather stories for the year, Environment Canada says despite a late start, national statistics showed more fires than ever.

The weather service says in B.C., spring flooding led to increased vegetation that turned into kindling because of a hot, dry summer.

For the second year in a row, the province faced a province-wide state of emergency with nearly 2,000 wildfires ignited in B.C., including 460 simultaneous blazes by Aug. 8.

A local state of emergency was declared in the small north Island community of Zeballos in mid-August as a fire burned on a steep slope over the village, leading to an evacuation order of several properties.

Although the fire is out, the state of emergency has been extended to Dec. 26 because of a risk of trees coming down from the slope since the ground has been weakened and unstable from being burned.

Environment Canada says by August, more than 10 million Canadians from Vancouver Island to the Great Lakes were breathing smoke from western fires.

The record smokey skies hours saw Alberta’s two major cities particularly dark.

Environment Canada says Calgary experienced 478 hours of smoke and haze, with the normal summer count being 12 hours.

Edmonton had 230 hours of smoky skies, more than double its previous smokiest summer.

The spring flooding in southern B.C. also made the Environment Canada Top-10 list, coming in at number-six.

The report said the snowpack was the deepest recorded in nearly 40 years and record-highs in the late-spring led to a shock melt in the B.C. interior.

The weather service says charred forests, devoid of vegetation from 2017’s summer wildfires, were especially vulnerable to flash flooding, mudslides, and debris flows.

Environment Canada says back-to-back bad flood and wildfire years are not yet a trend but is a concern since both cases can increase the risk of the other.

The top-10 list includes:

  • Record wildfires and smoky skies
  • Canada affected by global summer heat wave
  • Hot and dry to snow-filled skies blut the prairie harvest
  • Powerful May winds cost $1 billion
  • Ottawa-Gatineau tornadoes on summer’s last day
  • Spring flooding throughout southern B.C.
  • Flash flooding of the Saint John River
  • Toronto’s August deluge
  • Record cold start to a long winter
  • A cruel, cold and stormy April

Between December 2017 and November 2018, Environment Canada says every region and all seasons are warmer than ever before.

The report says Environment and Climate Change Canada scientists have concluded the risk of western fires has increased two to six times due to human-induced warming since 2015, with the length and intensity of wildfire seasons are growing.

Environment Canada says scientists have made a clear link between climate change and extreme weather events that include wildfires, flooding, heat waves and sea ice disappearance.


Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!