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October 27, 2017 4:36 pm

Large Wildfires Create ‘Mini-Weather Patterns of Their Own’

Friday, July 14, 2017 @ 5:50 AM

Williams Lake, B.C. – As if forecasting the weather isn’t difficult enough, try throwing a raging wildfire into the mix.

Noella Kekula, a fire information officer with the BC Wildfire Service, says large wildfires commonly take on weather patterns of their own.

“Yes, they just start creating their own wind and it just builds. It’s pretty fascinating to watch. It does happen in addition to the other weather,” she tells 250News.

“We have an incident management team that is managing this area of command and we have a fire behavioural specialist on our team and that is what she does – she just looks at the weather for all of the fires we are managing.”

Kekula says it makes predicting what the weather will do in such situations “incredibly difficult.”

“We’ve got all the weather and dry conditions with very little precipitation. So, the weather is unpredictable and in such large areas you could have different mini-cells come in in different parts of one fire.”

But BC’s chief fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek says it would take a pretty large wildfire  before it affected the overall weather pattern.

“A fire would have to be more in the neighbourhood of 50 thousand hectares,100 thousand hectares where it can actually start affecting the greater weather pattern around it. In the case of what we have so far, we haven’t experienced that yet.”

Looking ahead, Alyssa Charbonneau, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, notes she doesn’t see much relief in sight.

“Unfortunately, what we see in terms of heavy rain is coming for the North and into the Yukon. I don’t really see anything in terms of a really good soaking rain headed for the regions that need it the most in our extended forecast right now.”


I never really understood the claims of containment in an active fire. A simple change in the wind direction can make fire 50% contained or negate any containment at all.

I think the obvious way to fight a fire is to fight the leading edge where the fire will go with a change in wind direction, and not where the fire has already spread. This requires serious forcasting of the micro climate around a fire.

I think it would be cool if they had something like mini weathrrstations they could drop in an area around a fire, maybe even weather drones that create a mesh network around a fire zone of wind pressure that could feed back to a central computer which could run the algorithms for predicting the precise change of wind directions and therefore the exact locations to get ahead of the fire spread?

    It seems obvious that you’ve never been involved in fighting forest fires. You can only fight the leading edge when it isn’t burning very hot. A roaring fire will not even pause when it comes to a fireguard, and besides, it will be dropping burning embers a kilometer ahead and starting new spot fires in front of itself. You guard the back and sides where it’s less active and hope for a natural slowing of the front.

There is a very big difference between containment and controlled as a former forest fire fighter we were taught that difference in training

When it is announced a fire is 50% contained that means there is a fire guard that is 50% around the fire but the fire still has a chance to jump the guard as often the guard is usually only as wide as a dozen blade or the width of a shovel blade however it is still very much a very fluid situation it’s contained but not controlled

When it is announced that a fire is 50% controlled it means that the fire was stopped dead in its tracks by Back burning, it burned all usable fuel within the containment area or weather helped in containing and controlling 50% of the fire usually when a fire is controlled it is only a matter of time before it’s out

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