High temperatures, low humidity and poor overnight recoveries mean increase in wildfire risk

Dry June creates wildfire risk

Dry conditions may become dangerous over the next couple weeks as increased temperatures, low humidity and poor overnight recoveries mean greater risk for wildfires in the Thompson-Okanagan.

Aydan Coray, a fire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service, says that dry weather is the deciding factor for wildfire activity and that, hopefully, more rain and precipitation will relieve drought conditions.

“This week, we are expecting continued hot and dry conditions across the Fire Center. temperatures reaching into the mid 30s with relative humidities dropping as low as the single digits,” said Coray.

“Looking through June we are looking for that reprieve in precipitation, so hard to say at this time what that will hold.”

Coray said that June is an important month in forecasting wildfire activity, as the majority of precipitation throughout the year occur during this month after the snow melt.

“We've been through a period right now in the spring of pretty consistent dry weather with an average to below average precipitation,” Coray said.

The increased temperatures over the coming week means that overnight recoveries in humidity will be poor, leaving conditions drier and more prone to ignitions.

“Ultimately, overnight recoveries do play a role in fire behaviour, and this week, through till Thursday, Friday, we are expecting our overnight recoveries to be poor to fair,” said Coray.

Overnight recoveries are night time conditions that see lower temperatures and increased moisture, which help moderate wildfire activity.

Lightning holdover fires may begin to kick into gear as conditions continue to dry-up with minimal precipitation.

Coray said that the BCWS is just beginning to see fire starting in areas that received lightning two weeks ago.

“So with this drying trend we're seeing this week, it is possible for lightning holdover fires to pop up as the fuels dry out and those fires get more activity,” said Coray.

The main cause of wildfires can differ year-to-year, although the upcoming months may see increased chances of lightning caused fires as thunderstorm season begins.

“As we go through June and July, that is our season that we see the most lightning cause fires with our thunderstorm season and precipitation,” said Coray.

“So depending on the year and the thunderstorm season we get — will sway kind of what the main cause of fires are.”

Out of the 62 fires since April 1, Coray said that 60 per cent of them have been human caused.

“We see the majority of our fires are human caused and that ultimately takes away resources from lightning caused fires,” said Coray.

"So if you are participating in any campfire use this weekend or just recreating in the outdoors, please be cautious and report any unattended campfires and wildfires."

The BCWS recently increased the fire danger rating to high for Kelowna, Vernon, Kamloops and Lake Country.

Crews are on standby at all BCWS bases in the region as the risk of fire increases in the coming weeks.

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