Monday, May 06, 2013

Warm weather increases fire danger in Quebec

Above: This fire spread rapidly from a small bonfire to one consuming several hectares on Mont St Gregroire Friday night. No outdoor burning should be done this week in Quebec, as seen below my region remains under an extreme fire alert. CBC News

Over the last week nearly 80 brush/forest fires have broken out in various locations around the province of Quebec due to the abundant dead matter from the winter and the very dry, warm weather. May so far in Montreal has featured well above normal temperatures each day including yesterday's 27C (81F). The warm dry weather has increased the risk of forest and brush fires as one group of campers found out late Friday night. They had a bonfire burning on Mont St Gregoire on the South Shore that got out of hand and spread rapidly. The fire consumed more than three hectares but is now under control. The SOPFEU, the group responsible for forest fire prevention in Quebec, is reporting extreme fire danger for this week. The forecast looks the same has it has been all month, sunny and warm through Tuesday. Showers and cooler weather will arrive on Wednesday, but we are not expecting a huge amount of precipitation.  Strong high pressure will continue to anchor itself over southern Quebec with fair weather across eastern Ontario and New England as well.

Dust Devils
The dry warm weather has prompted another unusual special weather statement from Environment Canada  this morning, one for dust devils. These are thermal whirlwinds that develop on warm summer afternoons when it is very dry out with low relative humidity. They swirl briefly up and can blow around debris or even move small objects.  They resemble tornadoes in there structure, but on a very, very mirco scale. They usually dissipate in seconds. We have all seen them before in schoolyards as kids or perhaps across a WalMart parking lot blowing dust and paper around and then disappearing as fast as they came. I have never read a statement for them however. Just part of this bizarre spring. How bizarre? On the weekend most places in southern Quebec were at least 10 degrees warmer than locations across the southern US. That portion of the country has been plagued by a stubborn upper level slow. The cold core system has produced hail, flurries, frost and record cold from Kansas and Texas into the southeast. Portions of south Texas along the Gulf Coast were colder than southern Quebec this weekend.

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