Alberta Foothills Weather

May 18 – Fire runs wild

The winds of change would not quit, not only have they brought a very rapid advance of spring, they have also brought destruction.

Half of the town of Slave Lake, 200km north of Edmonton, is in ashes after a wildfire flared southeast of town over the weekend. 50-80km/h southeast winds quickly pushed the fire into and through sections of the town, sending residents fleeing the flames which were in town long before all got out. Stories abound of people having flaming bits raining down on them as they left, and heavy smoke cutting off escape routes. Amazingly, no injuries have been reported. Another large fire north of Ft.Mcmurray near Ft. MacKay forced the evacuation of 1000+ workers from the oilsands projects around there.

For the second time in Alberta’s history, a province-wide fire ban is in effect. The 5:30pm SRD Wildfire report shows 72 fires are still burning across the north of the province and the foothills, 19 of them out of control. 191,365 hectares(~473,000 acres, 739 sq. miles) have gone up in flame since April 1, and 109,000ha of that burned this past weekend. Fire crews are pouring into the area from all over Canada to try and get a hold on the situation. Hopefully Ma Nature can help soon with some rain up there.

It’s getting nice and green around here, that fantastic lime green that only exists for a few weeks and makes the whole winter worthwhile for me. The lakes in the area are ice-free and the grass needs mowing already but now there is another problem. The buzzing hordes of mosquitoes have really come out in the past few days, clouds of them floating around, up your nose and in your ears. I stopped by the river this morning to have a look and instantly filled the car with mozzies when I opened the door. Great. Should be some nice camping this long weekend, no campfire and herds of mozzies so big they could carry off a small adult.

Waiting and watching the long range models for a sign of the first serious instability of the season, it’s not showing yet. Watching a few little red spots advance from the southeast as I type this, they look like they might have a bolt or two in them so I hope they keep coming. Chance for a rumble tomorrow but not a lot of energy in play.

Wildfires in northern Alberta - May 16, 2011
Spring flowers - May 18, 2011Scruffy mule deer west of Innisfail, AB - May 15, 2011
Windy and cold Sylvan Lake, AB - May 15, 2011Fresh greenery southwest of Red Deer, AB - May 18, 2011Fresh leaves along the Red Deer river west of Penhold, AB - May 18, 2011

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