A chilly rain is on its way, the first in weeks, and Canadian officials believe it will make a “big difference” in Alberta, the western province battling flames following a hot, dry start to the holiday weekend.
In recent weeks, flames displaced tens of thousands of people and destroyed more than 800,000 hectares (two million acres) of woods and grasslands.
Christie Tucker of the Alberta Wildfire Service stated earlier in the day that “scattered showers and thunderstorms” had been detected in sections of the province.
“As we look ahead to the week, our forecasters are tracking a front moving into the province from tomorrow (Sunday), which should bring much-needed cooler temperatures, humidity and even rain,” she told a news conference.
That should last “a few days,” she said.
“A lot depends on where exactly that rain falls…. But in the area we’re expecting it, it is forecast to make a big difference” for more than 2,500 firefighters battling 87 blazes — including 23 out of control — as of late Saturday.
Officials favor a longer, more consistent rain that soaks into the vegetation. “That will help us more than a short burst of lightning, which could start a new wildfire,” she said.
More than 10,000 Albertans were still ordered to evacuate on Saturday, down from a peak of over 30,000.
The Alberta Emergency Management Agency’s Cyndee Evans stated the wildfire situation “remains volatile.”
Temperatures soared beyond seasonal standards, reaching 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit). And, according to rescuers, the long weekend in May is frequently when human-caused forest fires erupt.
Authorities blocked 12 local parks ahead of Canadian campers’ customary spring pilgrimage to the outdoors.
Smoke from wildfires has blanketed western Canada, prompting concerns about poor air quality posing health hazards.
Western Canada has been regularly battered by extreme weather in recent years, the strength and frequency of which have increased due to global warming.