Cool, rainy conditions to help relieve fire crews across the Northwest Territories
Wednesday, July 9, 2014, 8:34 AM -
UPDATE: Environment Canada has prompted an air quality advisory in southern Saskatchewan after forest fire smoke from the Northwest Territories moved into the province early Tuesday. The smoke is gradually moving eastward, and it is expected to dissipate across southeastern Saskatchewan Thursday. The public has been asked to avoid strenuous activities outdoors in the meantime.
Extreme drought and very little rain since the spring melt has resulted in over 160 forest fires across the Northwest Territories so far this year.
Officials say this is one of the worst fire seasons they've ever experienced with "everything right from the mineral soil to the top of the trees burning.”
While most of the fires have been sparked lightning, officials say human error is also to blame.
Several fire bans are in effect and residents are being asked to immediately report any fires they see.
The fires have closed highways and parks and have prompted voluntary evacuations in some places as well.
SPECIAL REPORTS: Check the air quality in your area here
"Smoke from forest fires combined with hot conditions will continue over Southern Northwest Territories tonight giving reduced air quality," said Environment Canada in a special weather statement Wednesday morning. "Some relief will occur later today as a weather system brings cool and showery conditions to the Great Slave area."
A rainfall warning is in effect for the Fort Liard Region including Nahanni Butte.
"Rainfall amounts will be near 30 millimetres," says EC in the warning. "However, as a result of localized convection, rainfall over 50 mm will occur in a few localities."
Officials say the fires in the north are also to blame for a smoky haze that's been hanging over parts of the Prairies this week.
Air quality advisories have been issued for parts of Saskatchewan and Manitoba as the smoke from the forest fires continue to sit over the provinces.
"Air quality sensors across the province are showing elevated particulate matter and reduced air quality this morning," said EC. "Children, the elderly and those with respiratory problems should take care. People in good health should consider reducing strenuous activities outdoors."
The smoke is forecast to continue to move eastward and become less dense throughout the day with air quality improving back to normal levels this afternoon, EC adds.
Satellite view of the prairies where you can clearly see the smoke spilling down into Saskatchewan from NWT. pic.twitter.com/jRUHbuqFkX— Kim MacDonald (@KMacTWN) July 9, 2014