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The 2024 Wildfire Season – What's to Come?

Updated: Jun 3

Wildfire Operations & Mitigation Expert – and Associate Forester at Frontera – Conor Corbett shares his insights and predictions about what to expect across British Columbia this wildfire season.

Happy Holidays from Frontera

Insights from a Wildfire Operations & Mitigation Expert

Hi! I am Conor, a forester with Frontera. I specialize in wildfire planning for a wide variety of different groups, including the provincial government, the BC Wildfire Service, First Nations, municipalities, and private forest operators.

As a former firefighter, I help provide some insight to how weather can impact wildfire danger, and help clients plan their operations and emergency preparedness. Weather and fire danger prediction is incredibly complex, and one of the questions that I am wrestling with is what to expect for the rest of the 2024 wildfire season.

Early Wildfire Predictions

It is only June, but it certainly looks like we are in for another busy wildfire season here in BC. After a mild and dry winter, most of BC remains in a drought, especially in the north. We’ve had a busy start to fire season up north, with the Parker Lake wildfire leading to the evacuation of Fort Nelson and structure loss.

Here at Frontera, we are keeping our fingers crossed that 2024 isn’t a repeat of 2023, the worst wildfire season in BC history. While some are worried history will repeat itself in 2024, there is hope that it won’t be quite as bad.

Comparing Wildfire Conditions Between 2023 and 2024

The 2023 wildfire season was driven by extended dry conditions and high temperatures from May to September, coming in on the heels of a mild winter. A long May heatwave kicked things off. We usually get a reprieve with late spring rains, but this did not happen in 2023, leading to a long, severe wildfire season with no breaks.

2024 had a similarly dry winter, and the drought continues especially in the northeast. Drought conditions are even worse in some places than at this time in 2023. But unlike 2023, we did not experience as long and warm a heatwave in May. We’ve also had some normal late spring precipitation, particularly in the south of the province. However, it still remains on the dry side across BC.

Northern BC continues to be a bit of different story. Drought conditions remain extreme up here, and spring rain was quite a bit less than in the south. We continue to hope for the best, but wildfire hazard will remain high to extreme up north without any major rainfall.

Summer 2024 Wildfire Predictions

Looking forward, July and August are usually the hottest and driest months in BC. Thunderstorms are common in these months, leading to wildfire ignitions from lightning. The severity of this period is very dependent on the spring leading up.

We are keeping our eyes on the long term forecast right now, hoping these late spring rains continue or even increase. This looks good in southern BC, where the forecast continues to be cool and moist, but northern BC unfortunately continues to be warm and dry.

So what can we say about the rest of the 2024 wildfire season? It looks like regardless of where you are in BC, wildfire hazard will be high and the BCWS will have their hands full.

Southern BC is tracking for an above average wildfire season, but unlikely to be as bad as 2023. However, the north of BC is following a similar trajectory as 2023, with hot and dry conditions persisting, setting things up for an extremely busy July and August.

Unfortunately, the Fort Nelson wildfire may be an example of what we can expect in the north in July and August.

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Frontera Forest Solutions is a forestry consultancy located in North Vancouver, British Columbia. With clients all around Western Canada, Frontera specializes in helping communities develop wildfire resiliency though innovative forest management an urban forestry, grant writing and training and curriculum development.

To explore how we can work with your community, reach out here.


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