Provincial fire officials said Tuesday they need significant, continuous rain over many days to turn around the fire situation in northern Saskatchewan.
“Fire officials are correct. It’s what they need … is this kind of rain that would spoil your summer holidays,” said Environment Canada Senior Climatologist David Phillips.
But the “rescue rains” firefighters badly need to stomp out the fires aren’t likely to materialize anytime soon says Phillips.
“The thing in weather, is persistence often takes over. What you see is what you’re going to get,” he said, adding all of his models are showing the same dry weather pattern over the next several weeks.
The forecast for La Ronge offers a strand of good news.
Phillips said starting Sunday they are predicting several straight days with a chance of precipitation.
“Any moisture would help out to some degree. But again, it’s not that kind of steady percolating kind of drenching rain that will make up the moisture deficits you’ve had for so long and would help give the forest firefighters a break.”
Phillips cautions with the chance of rain comes the risk of thunderstorm activity which could bring lightning and strong winds making conditions more challenging for those battling the fires.
Phillips said while the north hasn’t been as dry as areas in the south, La Ronge for example has seen one-third less precipitation than what it normally receives to this point in the year.
Between May and July 7th, La Ronge received 76 millimetres of rain, compared to an average year of 112 mm.
Over the same period, Saskatoon received 14.2 mm.
Phillips said the end of spring, beginning of summer period is the driest ever recorded in the city. The previous driest had been 21.6 mm in 1958.
“There’s a lot of moisture that has to be made up. You almost need a monsoonal kind of arrival to just reach back into a normal kind of situation,” he said.
Despite getting so little rain, the City of Saskatoon isn’t concerned about a drought. The city’s director of water, Reid Corbett, said they’re still able to meet Saskatoon’s water demand.
“People are actually very responsible with their water usage and pretty conscience, I believe, with how they water their lawns,” he said. “I think that the education programs that we’ve had are creating that awareness.”
Saskatoon is currently taking 3.1 per cent of the South Saskatchewan River flow, Corbett said.
According to the Water Security Agency, Lake Diefenbaker is at its sixth lowest level in 45 years.
-With files from CKOM’s Bre McAdam
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