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Stronger winds could spread B.C. Interior wildfires

Digital writers

Wednesday, August 16, 2017, 11:48 AM - British Columbia's weeks-long wildfire crisis continues to smoulder into the mid-week, with present weather conditions playing a complex role.

An upper low moving parallel along British Columbia's northern border with the territories will create strong winds that could cause wildfires in the province's interior to spread.

Below: The Weather Network's Deb Metejicka joins RCMP Constable Rachel Williams in Clinton, B.C. as residents return home after being evacuated due to wildfires

While rain looks to continue through the weekend for the north coast, a weak ridge will prevent any moisture from venturing south of Campbell River, according to The Weather Network meteorologist Kevin MacKay.

"Prince Rupert could see 100-150 mm of rain by the end of the weekend," says MacKay. "What a variable province."

Air Quality Health Index ratings should remain low through the week for coastal regions, as an onshore flow from the Pacific prevails.

"Onshore flow continuing to fan the smoke evenly over the west and keeping it out of the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island," says MacKay.

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Temperatures will be near seasonal, not stifling, but warm weather may make a comeback toward the end of August.

The B.C. Wildfire Service says nearly 130 wildfires over 0.01 hectares in size are burning in the province, though the service warns the number is an informal estimate. They assert that 15 new fires started on Sunday, with the majority caused by lightning. 

No significant pattern change in expected in the near future, and the risk for more dry-lightning persists for the time being.

Some of the wildfires are enormous. One, known as the Hanceville Riske Creek fire, has burned some 212,079 hectares since it sparked July 7.

In terms of moisture, it's so far resulted in little more than passing showers, and thunderstorms that have been marked by "dry lightning", which is lightning produced by storms that also produce little, if any, rain at the surface.

As well, though temperatures are returning to seasonal after a long period of heat, firefighters may face a new challenge in the face of stronger wind gusts east of the Coastal Range, gusting 50-70 km/h down to the surface.

This has been one of the most active wildfire seasons in recent memory for B.C.

As of Sunday, some 687,000 hectares of land have been burned, thanks to 1,012 fires province-wide. Though only around a quarter of this year's fires have burned in the Cariboo Region, that area has seen by far the most amount of land burned, at around 517,680 hectares.

SOURCE: B.C. Wildfire Service

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