As British Columbia heads into its first warm spell of the year, forecasters are warning the heat could raise avalanche and flood risks, while the danger of wildfires has already nudged up to a “moderate” rating in some parts of the province.
The River Forecast Centre website says temperatures are expected to be at least 10 degrees above normal for many areas of the province right through the weekend before cooler weather and rain arrive next week.
The centre says mid-elevation snowpacks could begin rapid melting, issuing high streamflow advisories for areas north of Prince George, across the Cariboo, parts of the Shuswap and south through the Okanagan to the U.S. border.
Avalanche Canada predicts the sudden warming could also create dangerous conditions across every mountain range in Western Canada and it says the hazard will increase daily, raising the possibility of very large, deep avalanches running from mountain top to valley bottom.
While advisories urge those in the backcountry to use extreme caution on mountain slopes or near river banks, the wildfire service website shows a large region between Kamloops, Bella Coola and Prince George is ranked at a moderate risk of fire and two areas within that zone ranked “high” or “extreme.”
Melting snow exposes dry, dead grass, and the wildfire service reports six small blazes have occurred over the last 24 hours in central B.C., including a seven-hectare fire rated as out of control west of Lillooet.