July 17, 2015 5:07 am
Updated: July 17, 2015 5:10 am

Fewer wildfires but hot weather expected to return

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While July has been a slightly wetter month for most of B.C., many of the short-term ecological concerns remain.

“Even if we do get some precipitation, it’s not going to be enormous,” says Matt MacDonald, Environment Canada Meteorologist.

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After the driest May in 100 years for Metro Vancouver, followed by the third driest June, the region has a deficit of 140 millimetres of rain compared to the average at this time of the year.

“It’ll be just a drop in a very empty bucket,” says MacDonald of any potential rain the in the next week.

The Level 4 drought conditions on the South Coast and Vancouver Island has resulted in record-low streamflows for a number of rivers in both regions.

BC Hydro has responded by shutting down or severely limiting activity at many of their dams in the region—but that isn’t impacting the province, says Mark Poweska, Sr. VP Generation of BC Hydro.

“The Peace River system, the Columbia River system, between those two systems and Bridge River, they supply about 80 per cent of our capacity and our energy for the system,” he says.

“The lower mainland contributes to that, and it’s good because it’s close to the load centre, but the majority of our generation comes from our larger plants.”

British Columbia’s Wildfire Service is also urging people against becoming too complacent as the number of blazes burning up forests drops by dozens.

Fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek says there are currently about 166 wildfires across B.C., down from the 220 reported by the service early this week.

He says lightning has caused fewer fires to continue burning because of accompanying rain and that crews have hit the flames fast.

Skrepnek says that despite lower temperatures in recent days, hot dry weather is expected to return by the weekend.

He says B.C. saw an abnormal amount of lightning early in the fire season but now is the time when the core lightning season normally begins.

The wildfire service says 96 properties are on evacuation order across B.C., about 300 members of the Alexis Creek First Nation remain on evacuation alert, and a campfire ban is still in place except for Haida Gwaii and the fog zone.

– With files from The Canadian Press

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