More rain needed for dry forests

Downpour welcome, but hot weather forecast for later this week.

The fire danger rating in southeast British Columbia is rising again after weekend rain had reduced the threat from extreme levels.

The fire danger rating in southeast British Columbia is rising again after weekend rain had reduced the threat from extreme levels.

Although last weekend’s rain was a welcome relief from months of hot, dry weather, the region still needs more precipitation to soothe its parched forests, according to fire information officer Marg Drysdale.

Abbotsford received its largest dose of rain in nearly four months with 21.3 millimetres falling on Friday. Additional rainfalls on Saturday and Sunday brought the three-day total to 48.2 millimetres.

The last time the city had received more than 10 millimetres of rain in a day was all the way back in mid-April, with Friday’s total rainfall not surpassed since March 29.

The weekend rain moved the local fire danger rating from extreme to low, according to the BC Wildfire Service. But it has been so dry for so long, that Drysdale says much more precipitation is needed.

“It’s temporary, it’s good, it definitely give some hydration to the smaller fuels,” she said. But it’s not enough. “What we need is substantial, sustained rain: Enough that is going to hydrate the ground and hydrate the trees.”

Drysdale predicted the fire danger will increase quickly, aided in part by hot weather that is expected to resume this week.

Temperatures in Abbotsford are slated to hit 29 C on Wednesday and increase to 32 C on Friday.

Last weekend, the various stakeholders who operate Sumas Mountain Interregional Park chose to close a gate to the park after residents expressed concern with the fire danger and the possibility that a user might spark a blaze.

According to the City of Abbotsford: “The gate is being kept closed under the direction of the Ministry of Forests, Metro Vancouver Parks and FVRD until such time as they see that the long range forecasts would mitigate potential fires.”

At a city council meeting on Monday, staff reported while the city remains under Stage 3 water restrictions, which includes a prohibition on lawn sprinkling, it seems unlikely that Stage 4 restrictions will be necessary this year. Staff say they are continuing to monitor the city’s water reserves in case continued hot weather requires further restrictions.