Canada — Yukon wildfire officials are warning of a potentially busy forest fire season this summer, due to anticipated warmer temperatures and already dry conditions in the woods.
Releasing its annual forest fire assessment on Thursday, the Yukon government’s wildland fire management branch said the weather over the next month could really affect the upcoming forest fire season.
Meteorologist Don Green said both Canadian and U.S. forecasters are predicting warmer than normal temperatures in the Yukon this month, followed by cooler but more normal temperatures as the summer progresses.
“Most of the area, most of the Yukon is snow-free earlier than normal this year. We didn’t have a lot of snow, we didn’t have a lot of cold temperatures, the soil moisture is low, and we’re expecting temperatures to be warm and humidities to be low,” Green told reporters in Whitehorse on Thursday.
“That should cause things to dry out very quickly.” Less snow, more rain?
Green said the warm weather will only add to a potentially risky situation, but what is unknown is how much it will rain over the summer. The relatively dry winter Yukoners recently experienced may play a role, he added.
“Conventional wisdom is that if you don’t have much snow in the winter, you’ll have a lot of rain in the summer and things just tend to even out over the year,” he said.
“That’s a rule of thumb, but it doesn’t always work.”
Planning supervisor Dave Milne would not guess how serious the upcoming forest fire season will be, but said it will all depend on how often it rains.
“Last summer we went some areas six weeks without any rain,” Milne said. “If we get into that situation, and we don’t get a lot of rain over an extended period of time, then we could be in for a world of hurt.”
Milne added that the number of lightning strikes will be a major factor in the number of forest fires in the territory this year.
About 118 fires were reported in the Yukon by August 2009, burning an estimated 283,826 hectares of forest.