Meteorologist Natalie Hassell told The Jim Toth Show that fires continue to blaze in northern Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, and the Northwest Territories.
“There are a lot of sources for us for smoke at the moment,” Hassell said.
“We’re in hazy conditions right now, expected hazy conditions continuing tonight. You may get a little bit of a break from the haze Saturday … but considering the forecast generally over the Prairies, it would not surprise me if we saw smoke or at least haze over southern Manitoba over the next few days.”
On average, Hassell said, lightning is responsible for about half of wildland fires, and the number of recent thunderstorms in the region certainly isn’t helping.
“You can get lightning travelling a great distance from the core of the storm,” she said, “meaning an area that is not getting any rain from that storm gets hit by lightning, then a fire starts, and there’s nothing to stop it right away.
“It can be sort of a weird feedback loop or cycle with the thunderstorms, lightning and the fires.”
Exacerbating the situation is the fact that many areas on the Prairies are dealing with dry conditions, meaning any vegetation is not going to be able to withstand catching fire — whether it’s due to lightning or anything else.
Cailin Hodder, a fire operations manager for the province, said all but one active blaze in the province was caused by lightning or another natural cause.
There are currently 14 fires burning across the province, with three new starts in the last 24 hours.
Hodder said some remote fires go undetected until they are of significant size, but the province uses satellites and drones to monitor blazes that would otherwise go unseen.
As for anticipating fires, the province is monitoring upcoming forecasts but Hodder said they’re preparing for the changing weather to increase the level of danger for a fire.
“As we kind of really get into the middle of June, we might see some areas with extreme fire danger levels in parts of Manitoba,” she said.
Hassell said southern Manitoba should expect more heat early next week, with cloudy conditions and possibly more thunderstorms for Wednesday and Thursday.
“We’ll have a little bit of everything that summer weather can give us.”