What a difference a year makes.
At this time in 2015, the BC Wildfire Service was fighting 180 fires across the province, after an unprecedented dry spell through June and the beginning of July.
There are just 50 fires burning, with the vast majority of the province having a low fire rating. The Prince George Fire Centre area, comprising all of northeastern B.C., is once again allowing Category 2 open fires. And Metro Vancouver and the south coast could get an additional 30 millimetres of rain from Thursday through Sunday.
“We’ve got a train of low pressure centres that are going to move over the south coast over the next week. We don’t have any real break in sight. We’ll just catch brief breaks between the rain,” said Global BC meteorologist Kristi Gordon.
“We could potentially see what we normally would for the entire month in just a few days.”
It continues a pattern of slightly higher-than-average rainfall across the province early this summer, following a historically dry 2015.
“Last year was more of an extreme anomaly, that we were really, really dry through the month of June and beginning of July, whereas this year we’re more on par,” says Gordon.
From May 1 to today, there has been 161.7 millimetres of rain recorded in Vancouver, compared to just 9.4 millimetres during the same period last year, an all-time low.
“The jet stream this year has been night and day compared to last year. Last year we had tons of high-pressure ridges building, even through the winter time, and it was this blocking high…it kept cold fronts from even coming in,” says Gordon.
“This pattern is different. The highs are coming in, but they’re not holding strong. They’re weakening. Every time something comes in, it backs off quite easily.”
Since April 1, 92,722 hectares have burned across the province, compared to 215,695 hectares during the same period last year.
Ryan Turcot, information officer with the B.C. Wildlife Service, cautions the public from thinking they’ll be a low risk for the rest of the summer though.
“Certainly this June was a wetter month, and those June rains certainly did bring a lot of reprieve, but that’s no reason to become complacent. When summer conditions start to warm up again, it doesn’t take long for the forest fuels to start escalating,” he said.
“The fire bans we put in place, we do monitor the condition on a day-to-day basis. As summer does roll around, things could change very quickly. In the event that new bans are put in place, we are urging the public to stay up to date.”