Wildfire forecast: Scientists say risk is high in Western Canada
Verne Tom photographs a wildfire burning approximately 20 kilometres southwest of Fort St. James, B.C., on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018. (Darryl Dyck / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
EDMONTON -- Federal scientists are predicting a higher than average wildfire hazard for almost the entire country this summer.
Their annual forecast says the risk will be highest in early summer in Western Canada.
All regions west of Ontario and as far north as the tree line are rated as well above average for potential wildfires in June.
The risk gradually falls over the course of the summer, but remains above the 30-year average.
Wildfire scientist Richard Carr at Natural Resources Canada says the prediction is based on climate models that suggest a warmer and drier summer is coming.
He says the prediction doesn't consider the impact of COVID-19, which may lower the risk by reducing the number of people in the woods.
He notes an increased hazard doesn't necessarily mean more fires.
The number of actual fires also depends heavily on factors such as lightning strikes or human error.