Weekend weather breaks record

NANAIMO – Nanaimo sets new record temperature on weekend as Coastal Fire Centre eyes climbing wildfire hazard.

The good news is Nanaimo broke a high temperature record on the weekend, but the bad news is wildfire hazard is climbing.

Nanaimo hit 28.6 C Sunday, an all-time high temperature record for May 5.

Great weather and prospects of the early onset of summer are good news for everyone wanting to hit the beaches or their favourite campsites, but rapidly drying conditions in recent weeks have staff at the B.C. Coastal Fire Centre keeping a close eye on soil dryness and humidity levels.

Donna MacPherson, Coast Fire Centre fire information officer, said there are, so far, no backyard burning prohibitions in place in rural areas, but there have already been seven wildfires in the B.C. south coast region.

“All of those were human-caused because we haven’t had any lightning,” MacPherson said.

Dry, hot, breezy days will rapidly suck the moisture and humidity out of ground cover.

Just a few days of dry, warm weather have already raised the fire danger rating to “moderate” in the Nanaimo region.

“That is something to be concerned about,” MacPherson said.

“This hot weather that we’ve had has dried things out pretty fast, especially all the little crinkly stuff on top of the ground, like the leaves and twigs.”

MacPherson said to be sure and check with local bylaws for any burning restrictions and to do backyard and camp fires “right.”

“Right place, right size, be right by it and then put it out right,” she said.

David Jones, Environment Canada meteorologist, said Sunday’s high temperature beat the previous record of 27.2 C set on May 5, 1966.

“This weather is unusual, in the last couple of years, in that we just haven’t had warm weather early like this,” Jones said. “Which is fantastic because it looks like we could get a four-month summer. There’s no way to tell that, but an early start’s good.

“We’re good for the next week. We’ll see after that. No doubt the weather will turn snotty at some point. It usually does in June, but we have good Junes, too, so here’s hoping.”

Looking back 90 days, Jones said rainfall has been close to normal for the south Island, drier for the central Island and a bit wetter overall for the north Island.

On the whole, precipitation is about average for the Island.

For weather forecasts and historical data, please visit the Government of Canada weather website at http://weather.gc.ca.

For more information about up-to-date fire hazard ratings and proper burning and fire extinguishing methods, please visit the B.C. Wildfire Management Branch website at http://bcwildfire.ca.