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B.C.’s persistent drought continues as wildfires spark, no rain in forecast

Click to play video: 'Wildfire sparks in Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island'
Wildfire sparks in Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island
A wildfire has sparked in the Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island. Local firefighters and the BC Wildfire Service are trying to contain the late season fire, and as Travis Prasad reports, they're getting little help from the weather – Oct 9, 2022

Windy weather in the forecast could cause more issues on Thanksgiving Monday as crews are still battling wildfires amid persistent drought conditions.

On Vancouver Island, a wildfire sparked on Saturday in the Cowichan Valley is currently burning out of control at four hectares in size.

A special weather statement has been issued for strong winds for most of B.C. Monday and the BC Wildfire Service said crews will be closely monitoring how those gusty conditions will impact the fire’s behaviour.

The special weather statements have been issued for much of the province including Vancouver Island, Greater Victoria, Sunshine Coast, Whistler, Howe Sound, Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Okanagan Valley and the Southern Gulf Islands regions.

Read more: Special weather statement with strong winds issued for nearly all of B.C.

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Dry weather and a lack of rain have pushed wildfire season well into the fall.

Global BC meteorologist Mark Madryga said from July 10 to Oct. 10, an average of 150 millimetres of rain falls at Vancouver Airport. This year there have been 16 millimetres recorded.

During the same time frame, Abbotsford usually records an average of 200 millimetres. This year there have been 10 millimetres recorded.

A look at the rainfall amounts on the South Coast this year compared to an average during previous years. SkyTracker

Read more: Video shows hundreds of thousands of fish dead in dry B.C. creek bed

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The Lower Mainland, the Sunshine Coast and west Vancouver Island have now reached Drought Level 5, meaning adverse impacts to socio-economic or ecosystem values are almost certain.

At Level 5, conditions are exceptionally dry, according to the provincial drought scale, and all efforts should be made to conserve water and protect critical environmental flows.

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John Richardson, a University of British Columbia professor in the department of forest and conservation sciences, said the current stretch of parched conditions is an anomaly for the province.

“This is quite prolonged,” he said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “This is the warmest, driest September we’ve ever had on record.”

Madryga said as of Monday morning, there is zero rain in the forecast for the next 10 days on the South Coast.

This means the level 5 drought conditions will remain in place.

Click to play video: 'The impact of drought conditions in B.C. can be seen with the state of spawning salmon right now'
The impact of drought conditions in B.C. can be seen with the state of spawning salmon right now

Jonathan Boyd, a hydrologist with the BC River Forecast Centre, said last week that in order for the drought to end, B.C. is going to need “some pretty impactful storms,” including atmospheric rivers that struck the province last November.

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