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Incoming heat event has B.C. officials concerned, wildfire and drought impacts imminent

Click to play video: 'B.C. officials warn upcoming heat wave and drought impact'
B.C. officials warn upcoming heat wave and drought impact
WATCH: A heat wave heading for our province is expected to send temperatures soaring into potentially dangerous territory. In addition to putting lives at risk, officials warn it'll also have an impact on our unprecedented drought. Richard Zussman has more – Aug 10, 2023

B.C. officials are warning that next week’s temperatures are expected to rise “above seasonal normal” for this time of year.

B.C.’s Minister of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness Bowinn Ma and B.C.’s Minister of Forests Bruce Ralston expressed serious concerns that the incoming heat event will greatly impact wildfire and drought conditions across the province.

While the heat event is not expected to be as extreme as the 2021 heat dome, there are still concerns for British Columbians’ safety.

“Let’s take care of one another, check in on your loved ones and your neighbours, especially those that are vulnerable,” Ma said.

Temperatures of 31 C or higher inside a home can be dangerous to vulnerable people.

Click to play video: 'Worry about heat and drought conditions in Kamloops'
Worry about heat and drought conditions in Kamloops

The heat is expected in the high 20s in coastal regions, mid-30s for B.C.’s South Coast and mid to high 30s for B.C.’s Interior next week.

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The government said it’s not expecting to enact extreme heat emergency warnings, but may have regular heat warnings in place.

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These temperatures may trigger heat warnings. While these elevated temperatures may pose risks, I do want to assure everyone that this upcoming heat event is not expected to be as extreme as the event that we faced in June and July of 2021.

The days are shorter and the nights are longer in August than they are in June, which will allow for extended nighttime cooling temperatures.

 

Drought conditions are impacting water supplies across the province and officials are concerned the incoming heat will increase the strain on supply.

Ma said to check with local authorities for water usage restrictions.

“Twenty-eight of 34 water basins are at Level 4 or 5. The situation remains concerning; that is 80 per cent of B.C’s drinking water (in those reserves).”

“Everyone needs to do their part to conserve water and mitigate water usage,” Ralston said.

Click to play video: 'Wet weather provides some relief in B.C. wildfire fight'
Wet weather provides some relief in B.C. wildfire fight

Ralston said if drought conditions worsen and reach critical levels, the province will be making “difficult decisions” to protect the water supply.

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As the incoming heat event will be affecting water supply, it will also be making conditions around the province more susceptible to higher fire activity.

According to the province, residents near wildfires need to be aware that fire activity may increase next week and to pay close attention to regional districts and local authorities for developments.

Ralston said, currently, there are 660 people on evacuation order and close to 4,000 people under alert, mostly in central and southeast parts of the province.

As of noon Thursday, there are 398 wildfires burning across B.C., with 11 being wildfires of note. There are more than 4,000 firefighting personnel, with help from Mexico, United States, Australia and Brazil.

A final plea from government officials is asking British Columbians to take extra care in areas of fire danger and to mitigate human-caused fires in the coming days ahead.

 

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