Many British Columbians were awakened to the presence of lightning Monday. Some were concerned about its ability to fuel new or existing wildfires.
The province saw 327 lightning strikes touch down May 17, from regions of Metro Vancouver to as far north as Prince George.
B.C. Wildfire Service’s digital map of fire risks showed pockets of high to extreme danger in central areas as wildfire season moves into its early stages.
The majority of lightning strikes also occurred in central-eastern regions including the Cariboo, which saw 189 strikes compared to 49 in coastal areas and 45 in and around Kamloops.
An expert from Environment Canada said that’s typical for this time of year.
Incredible show tonight.#bcstorm pic.twitter.com/ScDI7OSrxT
— Reaon Ford (@reaonford) May 18, 2021
May to July is peak season for lightning
“May to July is actually when thunderstorms are at their peak,” said meteorologist David Lundquist.
“B.C. can see anywhere from up to hundreds to some thousands of lightning strikes per day.”
In places like the valleys of B.C.’s southern interior, such as Kelowna, thunderstorms don’t come with much rain, Lundquist said.
Information officer Briana Hill with B.C. Wildfire Service said the agency is constantly monitoring the presence of lightning, “in case anything strikes up.”
Absolutely EPIC lightning storm happening over #NorthVan & #Vancouver right now!!! The night time acoustics are making for the LOUDEST thunderstorm I’ve ever heard in BC. #BCstorm #ImNotSleeping #SoundOn pic.twitter.com/C8IJ6ewEI7
— Matt MacDonald (@meteo_matt) May 18, 2021
Humans spark most of B.C.’s wildfires in spring
However, until the drier months of summer, Hill said the most common cause of wildfires in B.C. continues to be humans.
“It’s key that people are aware of their fire use,” she said.
Approximately one-quarter of the province is currently listed as being at moderate fire risk, according to B.C. Wildfire Service’s May 17 danger zone ratings.
This week alone, a total of 10 new wildfires have erupted in the province.
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