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During this unprecedented wildfire season, an area nearly equivalent to Vancouver Island has burned across B.C. Is the season on the brink of uncharted territory?
Fires continue to burn across the province, primarily in remote locations, but some fires are still stubbornly threatening structures and people.
We need substantial rainfall, day after day, to permanently extinguish the fire activity -- and that’s normally reserved for the fall and winter seasons. There’s a hint of a pattern change next week, but the fall season will come with its own risk of unique hazards, including a heightened threat of power outages due to drought-stricken trees.
Anecdotally, the fire season has felt gruellingly long in recent years, often spilling into September, or even October.
In fact, four of the most severe wildfire seasons during the last 100 years have occurred over the past seven.
Since about 2005, this uptick in wildfire activity and smoke has been noteworthy across the province, especially when corroborating with satellite imagery, with smoke often seen wafting across the province well into September.
Smoke from California and Oregon plagued British Columbia in September 2008, 2012, 2017 and 2020.
The year 2018 at the time was the worst wildfire season on record for B.C., with lightning storms being the key driver of the uptick in activity. Fires are seen on satellites burning well into September.
Last year had a highly unusual, late-season buildup, as well, which had fires burning until the end of October across the province -- in large part due to severe and ongoing drought.
Then came 2023, where, once again, wildfire activity is stretching into the fall after nearly 2.5 million hectares have been devoured by fires. The blazes have caused untold damage to the environment and impacted communities.
The pattern change is welcome news next week, but such an abrupt transition can be a rocky one. Stay with us as we track the fall storms that will be back in action next week.
Thumbnail courtesy of BC Wildfire Service/X.