Nfld. & Labrador·Blog

Ryan Snoddon: Unfavorable forecast for Fort Mac firefighters

Firefighters will face an uphill battle trying to protect the yet untouched areas of Fort McMurray, including the water treatment plant and hospital.

The images and videos coming from Fort McMurray over the past 24 hours are jaw dropping, from the residents fleeing town Tuesday night to the now-charred remains of some subdivisions this morning.

A view from residents trying to leave Fort McMurray, Alta., from Twitter user @ccccrystal__. (Twitter)

The good news? No major injuries or deaths were reported and more than 80,000 people have been evacuated safely.

The bad news? Firefighters will face an uphill battle trying to protect the yet untouched areas of Fort McMurray, including the water treatment plant and hospital.

Ryan Jeffries captured the wildfires in Fort McMurray, from his office window Tuesday afternoon 0:17

Extreme fire conditions

Fort McMurray's airport only recorded 17 millimetres of rain in April, and has had just 1 mm since April 15. Now the region is seeing record-breaking heat.

With a high of 33° on Tuesday, relative humidity of less than 15 per cent and a strong temperature inversion, the shift to southwest winds was enough for the fire to jump the Athabasca River and rage into town.

Wednesday brings more record-breaking heat with another high near 30°, very low relative humidity and strong westerly winds which look set to gust 40-50 km/h Wednesday afternoon and evening.

Extreme conditions continue today. Cooler for Thursday, but less than ideal. (Ryan Snoddon/CBC)

Mother Nature will bring some relief from the heat as a cold front arrives tonight, however little to no precipitation is expected.

The sunshine returns for Thursday with temperatures into the high teens, and westerly winds returning to 20 km/h.

More sunshine is set for Friday, Saturday and Sunday with the next chance of rain not expected until Sunday night or Monday.

The next chance of rain arrives late Sunday or Monday. (Ryan Snoddon/CBC)

As of now, next week looks cooler with temperatures closer to seasonal, higher humidity and better chances of rain. We'll keep our fingers crossed.

Fire danger map

(Natural Resources Canada)

Until then, this map shows how extreme the current conditions are for a huge portion of western Canada. It's only early into the forest fire season and it appears this season could be long one for firefighters.

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About the Author

Ryan Snoddon

Weather

Ryan Snoddon is CBC's meteorologist in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.