B.C. wildfire officials on alert as ‘volatile’ conditions expected by long weekend

North, Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island to rapidly dry out over next few weeks, officials say

With the rainy season petering out, provincial officials say rapid drying is expected across B.C. over the next couple of weeks, meaning the danger of wildfires is expected to soar.

“By the long weekend, we could see some pretty volatile conditions,” said Eric Meyer, superintendent of fire weather for the BC Wildfire Service.

He said the northeast and northwest parts of the province, along with the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, are expected to rapidly dry out. Many spots in the western half of the province are “significantly drier” than normal.

Meyer urged people doing activities in the forest to be extra cautious: “It won’t take much for a fire to get up and start and take off on them.”

What’s unknown is how much precipitation to expect.

“The day-to-day weather beyond these two weeks is really going to drive what the fire potential is for the remainder of the summer,” Meyer said.

Meanwhile, the province-wide snow pack is at 13 per cent of normal, still better than the same time last year, when it was at four per cent, according to Dave Campbell, head of the River Forecast Centre.

A hot stretch of weather from late March to early May resulted in a rapid melt-off of the mountain snow pack, he said.

As for possible drought, at least some parts of the province are expected to experience such conditions this summer, said Valerie Cameron, head of the province’s water stewardship program.

2015 was the most significant drought in recent memory,” Cameron said. “We’re hoping for a better year than we had last year.”

In the event of extremely dry conditions, she added, the province has new legislative powers to regulate water and water use.