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ai generated image of a thunderstorm over a green forest with a bolt of lightning striking in the distance

The Rain Has Come, But The Danger Remains

Rain is finally falling, but it won't be enough to stop the devastating wildfires, say weather experts

According to Sara Hoffman, an Environment Canada meteorologist, the expected rain in the coming days will reduce the risk of wildfires for a while.

The storms could bring strong winds that worsen the fires and lightning that could start new fires.

Alberta experienced a very dry winter and spring, with little to no rain in the first two weeks of June. Hoffman says the lack of rain is a big problem because it leaves the forests dry and susceptible to fires.

Alberta would need weeks of above-average rainfall, not just a few days, to return the forests to a healthy state. Based on long-term forecasts, that isn’t in the cards.

While the rain will temporarily help the dry forests, the relief won’t last when the heat returns. However, the change in the forecast is still good news.

A low-pressure system will bring widespread rain to some of the driest areas in Alberta. The province is expected to receive between five and 25 millilitres of rain.

a photo of a forest near fort chipewyan completely burned by the fire with crews in orange
Fire crew work the Rocky River Fire near Fort Chipewyan | Mix 103.7

As of Wednesday morning, 79 wildfires were burning in Alberta, with 22 out of control. This year, more than 1,427,000 hectares have burned, surpassing the previous record set in 1981.

In Edson, firefighters are battling a fire near the town’s southern boundary. Around 10,000 residents had to evacuate for the second time due to the fire, which continues to threaten the town, and the season has just begun.

Evacuation orders will be lifted in select areas of the county, and sections of Highway 16 will reopen, but the town and some areas in the county are still under evacuation.

In Fort Chipewyan, a community in northeastern Alberta, evacuation orders have been in place for over two weeks. Residents are eager to return home, but there is no timeline for their safe return.

“I know many of you wish to be home and I understand that…Unfortunately, we can’t give an exact date or even an estimate on when it will be safe to return,” said Jody Butz, regional fire chief, during a town hall on Tuesday.

The fire threatening the community has started to retreat, but it’s not entirely under control yet. Fire breaks are being expanded to protect the community.

Judy-Ann Cardinal, vice president of Fort Chipewyan Métis Local 125, acknowledges that the protection measures may seem extreme, but they are necessary to keep the community safe.

“We know some of the protection measures seem extreme and are upsetting to see, but we are doing what we can to fight the fire and keep our community safe,” said Cardinal.

She emphasizes that it will take time for the land and families to heal from the trauma of the fire.

While the rain is helpful, more sustained rainfall is needed to combat the wildfire risk. The communities affected are working hard to fight the fires and protect their homes.

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