Could the early wildfires out west be a sign of what’s to come in southern Ontario?

By Matt Hutcheson

It is expected to be another smoky and hazy summer across the country. Weather and forestry experts have been predicting this wildfire season will be on-par with last summer.

Environment Canada was predicting wildfire smoke from the prairies to make its way into southern Ontario earlier this week. Some favourable weather conditions prevented that but the experts warn it’s only a matter of time before the air-quality statements start going up.

Some communities in Alberta have already faced evacuations as wildfires threaten homes. The early start to the season is not an abnormality but rather an indicator that longer fire seasons will be the norm, going forward.

“Wildfire seasons are being extended.” said Dr. Anabela Bonada, Director, Climate Science, Centre on Climate Adaptation, University of Waterloo while speaking to The Mike Farwell Show. “They used to be announced around April 1 to Oct. 31. But this year, certain parts of the country (like out in Alberta), they announced the start of the wildfire season three weeks early.”

Dr. Bonada said although the start of the wildfire seasons may fluctuate, climate change will lead to more frequent and severe fires.

“We’ll have dryer than normal weather. We’ll continue to have less rain and more fuel on the ground. So, the expectation is that our wildfire season could continue to be more severe going forward.”

While it is less likely for wildfires to directly impact the southern parts of this province, people should be prepared for more frequent days with poor air quality.

Dr. Bonada recommends wearing a mask outdoors when the air quality is at its worst or better yet, stay indoors.

She says you may want to look into air filter units for your home.

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