Odds in favour of warmer-than-normal summer - Forest fire officials expecting more fires than average season

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Barb Sweet
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One of the provincial water bombers

It could just be another summer of summers.

That’s according to Environment Canada senior climatol-

ogist David Phillips, who

explained the federal department has a new way of giving a weather outlook. The new style is more likely to describe the odds.

Newfoundland and Labrador and British Columbia have been given the best odds for a warmer-than-usual summer.

St. John’s, for instance, has a 75 per cent chance of  having a warmer-than-normal summer, a 20 per cent chance of a summer of normal temperatures and a five per cent chance of a colder-than-normal summer.

In Labrador, the odds rise to 85 per cent warmer than normal, 10 per cent normal and five per cent below normal.

Phillips said he’s never seen the odds that high.

In Ontario, by contrast, it’s a crapshoot — an equal chance of warmer than normal, normal and colder than normal.

Even with odds that high, Phillips noted there can always be a surprise.

As for precipitation in this

province, there’s an equal chance of getting a wetter summer, dryer summer or something in between.

Last year was the perfect 10 of a summer  — it was dry and people got warm weather when they wanted it.

“It didn’t matter when you took your holidays. It was glorious,” Phillips said in a phone interview from Toronto.

He noted people might be nervous such a summer couldn’t possibly repeat itself.

“The potential is there from the temperature point of view. It may be déjà vu all over again,” Phillips said.

Fire bans in place

Forest fire officials, meanwhile, expect an above normal forest fire season, according to Eric Young, the Natural Resources director in charge of forest fire management.

Forest firefighters are still battling a blaze in Labrador that keeps the Town of Wabush on alert and has burned down many cabins.

On Friday, residents of the island portion of the province were asked to be careful with campfires.

There’s an outdoor fire ban in Labrador as the situation there is extreme.

But the fire index on the island is mostly high, although some areas are extreme.

Young said it’s important people camping or at cabins only have small campfires if they must and that they make sure the fires are totally extinguished before leaving them.

“We’re asking people to be extra careful this weekend,” Young said.

He said people will often walk away from fires when they are down to embers or coals, but  he warned that if the

wind picks up the fire

can be driven into the

woods.

As between 30-40 forest firefighters are fighting the blaze in Labrador, Young said he’s confident there are enough resources to battle any forest blazes this summer — there’s a  crew of 100. Crews are being rotated in and out of Labrador.

That blaze is not expected to be abated for days, as it’s still dry. Smoke and haze from the forest fires in Quebec are impairing visibility, Young said.

He said forest firefighters handled 178 fires last summer in the province, and the saving grace for the island this year is that June was wet.

The average is about 70-80 forest fires a season. There have been 58 forest fires in the province so far this year.

Adding to this, late July and August can bring lightning concerns.

“Will we have as bad a summer as last year? It’s hard to tell,” Young said.

Forest firefighters are wary of wind.

“(Wind) is bad for forest fires,” Young said.

“I don’t like wind. I can take the sunshine and hot.”

Wind dries out debris and other combustibles in the forest and if a fires erupts, it also makes it burn faster.

“There has been a lot  of wind events lately. It seems atypical,” Young said.

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Organizations: Environment Canada

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, British Columbia, Ontario Wabush Quebec

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  • Wild Rose
    July 06, 2013 - 08:21

    Global warming is a leftwing (read socialist read NDP party) hoax.