“Record” Heat Dome Could Amplify Alberta Wildfires

May 10, 2023

New York Times:

In much of the western province of Alberta, this time of year has long been wildfire season. But this year, a large volume of fires in the boreal forest have come early and have been exceptionally extensive, leading the province to declare a state of emergency.

As of Tuesday after, about 24,000 people were out of their homes in the sparsely populated, largely northern areas of the province as 88 active wildfires were burning across nearly one million acres.

There have already been 412 fires this season — which typically runs from March 1 to Oct. 31 — an unusually high number. And for residents of vulnerable areas, that has evoked uneasy memories of 2016, when raging flames moved from the forest into the oil sands capital of Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Model projection for May 14


Dry vegetation, record temperatures and powerful winds: this “perfect storm” of weather phenomena fueled the massive forest fires in western Canada’s Alberta province this year, according to researchers.

The extent of the fires and their appearance so early in the year illustrate the impacts of climate change, scientists say.

“We’ve already had 390,000 hectares (963,710 acres) burned. So it’s already 10 times the typical fire year and we’re really just getting started,” said Danielle Smith, premier of Alberta province where a state of emergency was declared.

“It’s an extraordinary (and) unprecedented event, which is I think what we have to be prepared for in future,” she told reporters on Tuesday.

In early May, a weather phenomenon set in that “brought really unseasonably hot and dry conditions to the province,” Lang told AFP.

A ridge of high pressure pushed aside the precipitation and kept the heat in place, breaking several temperature records in the region.

In the provincial capital of Edmonton, the mercury reached 28.9 degrees Celsius (84 degrees Fahrenheit) on May 1, beating the previous all-time high of 26.7C (80F) set almost a century ago. Farther north, it reached 32.2C (89.9F) in Fort McMurray on Thursday.

Added to this were strong winds fueled by the typical temperature differential between the cold north and the warmer south.

“It was a perfect storm,” said Lang.

Boulanger added that “if the conditions remain extreme, it could last for weeks or months.”

One Response to ““Record” Heat Dome Could Amplify Alberta Wildfires”

  1. rhymeswithgoalie Says:

    Word for the Day: splooting

    Here’s a squirrel splooting to dump heat into a cooler surface:

    On the hotter days the squirrels will sploot on my flagstone porch.

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