No 'Juneuary' this month in B.C. as another hot spell looms

Low rainfall for May has increased wildfire risk across the province as temps forecast to rise again

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Following a lack of rainfall in May for much of British Columbia, Environment Canada says the dry conditions will elevate fire risk for June, which is also expected to be warm.

June in B.C., especially along the South Coast, often carries the moniker of "Juneary" due to perceptions that the month can tend to be cool and rainy following a sunny and mild May.

This year though, the month is starting with heat as temperatures are once again expected to rise above normal starting on Sunday, with thermometers topping out in the low to mid-30s next week for inland areas of Metro Vancouver and other hot spots such as in the southern Interior.

Many parts of B.C. already have endured one heat wave in 2023, during the second week of May, when temperatures in the 30s increased wildfire activity and led to flooding after snowpacks began to rapidly melt.

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May was not only atypically hot but dry as well.

CBC Meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe said Vancouver saw only 16 mm of rain in May compared to 65 mm, which is the average amount from 1981 to 2010.

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Average temperatures in May for the South Coast were a high of 19.1 C and a low of 16.7 C, whereas the average is 10.2 C and 8.8. C.

"It might not seem like a lot, but an around 2 C departure is quite significant for an average," said Wagstaffe.

"We've seen a relatively dry month, as you probably can tell from the hot days and the lack of precipitation that we've seen," said Ken Dosanjh, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada. "So it's definitely been way too dry for [May]."

SEE ALSO: Does breathing in wildfire smoke mean lung issues for life?

Both Dosanjh and Wagstaffe said the dry conditions and rise in temperatures starting this weekend will dramatically increase wildfire risk once again.

The B.C. Wildfire Service said that from April 1, 2023, there have been 345 fires so far this year. Currently, there are 56 active fires, with six new starts in the last 24 hours.

WATCH: Fire danger risk at extreme in parts of Canada

In 2022, there were 1,801 fires over the season, which burned 135,235 hectares.

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Dosanjh said that summer forecasts are so far looking to be normal to above seasonal temperatures for most of British Columbia.

He also said that B.C.'s River Forecast Centre is expected to begin monitoring drought conditions in the province following a May that was dominated by advisories and warnings over high water levels from the spring freshet.

WATCH: Top 5 ways humans cause forest fires in North America

Thumbnail courtesy of Christopher Heidenreich via CBC.

This article was originally written and published for CBC News. Contains files from Joel Ballard.