It’s expected to be another smoky summer in Waterloo Region as wildfire season kicks off in Ontario

At times last summer, it felt the whole province was on fire. In fact, it felt the whole country was ablaze with wildfires raging out of control from B.C. to the Maritimes.

Most experts agree 2023 was the worst wildfire season on record.

2024 isn’t looking much better, and there are three main reasons why.

“We’ve had relatively limited snowpack across Canada during the winter. We’ve tended to have dry conditions in the areas where forests occur and we’ve had a hotter spring” said Blair Feltmate, head of the Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation at the University of Waterloo.

He said those three factors are likely to result in challenges from wildfire smoke in southern Ontario.

The severity of the smoke drifting into Waterloo Region will largely depend on the direction of the wind but if last summer was any indication, hazy skies, that “camp fire smell” and scratchy throats will be back this year.

Apr. 1, marked the beginning of wildfire season in Ontario. If it feels like the season is getting longer, Feltmate says it is.

“Over the last 7 years, the wildfire season in Canada now, generally speaking, starts a week earlier and goes a week longer driven by climate change.” Feltmate adds, “as a result of irreversible climate change, wildfire risk will be increasingly problematic in the future, period.”

When the air quality dips, Feltmate recommends wearing an N95 mask while outdoors and looking into a good quality air filter for inside your home.

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