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ai generated painting of a lone firefighter standing in front of a wildfire

Albertans Are Battling Blazes, While Election Distracts Politicians

A rare heat dome over Alberta made the wildfire danger even more serious

There are 90 active wildfires in Alberta, and 23 are out of control. On Sunday, there were 14 evacuation orders affecting almost 20,000 Albertans. 

Conditions over the weekend were made worse by a rare heat dome. A heat dome is created when an area of high pressure remains in a region for an extended period.

This creates a dome that traps heat over a region, unfortunately, in this case, Alberta. The last heat dome to hit the Prairie provinces was in 2021, which resulted in devastating fires and deaths.

It caused temperatures to soar as high as 36 °C in Alberta. On June 29, 2021, the province broke 38 daily temperature records.

a wildfire burning through the night with the moon shining bright in the top left of the picture
A wildfire blazing through the night in Alberta | Alberta Wildfire Facebook

Unfortunately, the 2021 heat dome was responsible for taking the lives of more than 80 people in Alberta and 48 wildfires mostly in the  Edson, Rocky Mountain, Lac La Biche, and Fort McMurray forest areas.

“A heat dome like this is a very rare occurrence in this part of the world this time of year…Historically and statistically speaking, it is rarer than a 1-in-1,000-year event,” meteorologist Jeffery Berardelli told the Guardian

But according to Armel Castellan, a meteorologist for Environment Canada, the current heat dome does not have the potential to reach the same extreme temperatures as the 2021 heat dome. 

“It’s the same idea, the same pattern if you will…(but) we’re not looking at the same animal…,” Castellan told The Canadian Press

We have longer and cooler nights to thank for that. A trailing cold front early this week is also expected to change the wind direction and provide temporary relief from the extreme heat.

On Thursday, around 300 Canadian soldiers arrived in Alberta to help battle wildfires across the province. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will come to Edmonton today to meet with Canadian Armed Forces personnel. 

But we aren’t out of the woods yet, warned Josee St-Onge, an Alberta wildfire information officer, during a briefing on Sunday. 

“Our peak burning period, which is when the temperatures are at their highest, and the fuels are at their driest, is still in front of us,” commented St-Onge. 

As wildfires continue to blaze, some local governments are calling for the provincial election to be postponed. This included Yellowhead County. 

“It took us five days to get a fire ban in this area when it was extremely dry, and we were burning up,” Wade Williams, mayor of Yellowhead County, told CBC News

Williams alleges that Danielle Smith’s government’s initial response needs to be much faster.

He believes the election is a distraction that should be postponed so the province can focus on “the fires and emergencies that we have throughout the province.”

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