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April 5, 2010 / Dave Gorham

Canadian Burn Bans and Drought

The 2010 wildfire season has officially started in Canada and already there are burn bans in Alberta. Some areas are currently in an extreme drought due to the combination of a dry fall and a below-average winter in terms of both snow and rainfall. There has been record dryness in scattered parts of the country, but especially in Alberta and Saskatchewan.


Precipitation from Sept. 1, 2009 to March 28, 2010 compared with the historical trend. The red areas indicate record dryness. Image: Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

As of April 1, this is the projected starting drought code of Alberta. Areas in red or pink are considered ‘high’ or ‘extreme’. Image: Alberta

Last week, several grass fires were reported in and around Calgary. On top of the extremely dry conditions, it’s also been warm and windy across the area. Of course, this doesn’t help firefighters who are trying to control the fire and put out the flames.

A grass fire near Calgary. Image: 660News

Burn bans have been popping up all over Alberta, including ten provincial parks and recreational areas across the province. The bans prohibit the use of all wood briquette fires, including those in designated and portable fire pits. Gas, propane stoves and BBQ’s for cooking are still allowed.

Areas shaded in pink are for Fire Bans currently in place. Areas shaded in yellow are for Fire Prevention Notices. Image: www.albertafirebans.ca

Fire officials are getting ready for a busy wildfire season and are training new fire-fighting personnel. They will also begin opening 127 fire outlook towers. Not only are fire officials concerned about the dry conditions, but so too are farmers and ranchers. Soil moisture levels are extremely low for this time of year across a wide area of Alberta and western Saskatchewan. Areas hit hard by the drought desperately need rainfall this spring, especially in order to have a productive harvest.

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