Spring Wildfire Outlook for British Columbia…


Thursday, April 13, 2023 | 3:27 pm

October 2022 was one of the driest and warmest Octobers on record with daytime highs consistently 4-10 degrees above normal.

British Columbia saw very limited precipitation during what is typically a wet month. With very limited moisture, drought conditions in forests were much higher than normal for the late fall.

The elevated drought codes in certain regions, namely the Kamloops Fire Centre, the Rocky Mountain Trench, the Peace Region, and southern portions of the Cariboo, have carried over into spring 2023.

Recent burning conditions

The BC Wildfire Service has observed unusually advanced fire behaviour for this time of year as a result of the current drought conditions and the public should know the majority of spring wildfires are caused by people and are therefore preventable.

99 per cent human-caused; 0 per cent natural; 1 per cent undetermined

Last spring wildfire season (April 1 – June 30, 2022) there were a total of 135 wildfires. 99 per cent of these were human-caused.

25 per cent human-caused; 74 per cent natural; less than 0 per cent undetermined

This is compared to the summer/fall wildfire season (July 1 – Dec 1, 2022), which included 1,569 wildfire ignitions; 25 per cent of these were human-caused and 74 per cent were naturally caused.

In early spring, most escaped open burns have one or both of the following factors in common:

  • the burn has been left unattended (even for a very short duration)
  • sudden changes in wind speed and direction

In order to conduct a safe and successful burn:

  • ensure an open burn is never left unattended
  • use free weather forecast tools such as www.spotwx.com or windy.com (this includes local wind speeds and direction, and provides more detail than high-level weather forecasts – there is also a layer for windy.com data available in our mobile app)
  • check the venting index

Fires may burn deeper and for longer periods in areas where drought conditions have persisted from the fall of 2022. Be prepared to exert greater effort to extinguish spring burns this year.

The ‘spring dip’ refers to the period after the snow melts and before significant spring rainfall when forest fuels are cured and available to burn. As a result it is common for grass fires to ignite and spread quickly in early spring. – BC Wildfire Service

If you would like to consult with a professional meteorologist before burning, you can call Environment and Climate Change Canada’s weather one-on-one consultation line at 1-888-292-2222.

April 13, 2023 – Update on Spring freshet and Wildfire predictions by the BC Government.

Written and released by BC Wildfire and BC Government

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