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Much-needed rain falling in parts of dry Alberta, but warm, windy conditions in the forecast


By May 7, 2023, Alberta had declared a state of emergency as a result of wildfires in the province.

More than 29,000 people had been forced out of their homes and 108 active wildfires were burning with 31 fires burning out of control.

Flash forward exactly one year.

There are 38 active wildfires burning in the wildfire protection area of Alberta. Twenty-five of those fires are carryovers from 2023. None of the fires are classified as out of control.

There are no evacuations or emergency alerts in place, and many parts of the province are experiencing rainy conditions.

While it seems like a stark comparison, experts are urging Albertans not to become complacent.

"The precipitation definitely provides short term relief for us. But we did experience drought-like conditions for months, and it is going to take continued and significant rain in order to overcome those conditions and lower the fire danger," Kai Bowering of Alberta Wildfire told CTV News on Tuesday.

"When there is rain, the fire danger is lower, which means that it's much less likely for a wildfire to start."

Bowring said that not all parts of Alberta are experiencing the precipitation seen in Edmonton and Calgary on Tuesday.

"The Grande Prairie forest area hasn't received as much precipitation as other areas of the province. So their fire danger is higher."

CTV News Edmonton meteorologist Josh Classen agrees.

"Almost everybody has seen more than up to this point in the year last year. But there's still a good chunk of the province that is well below average for precipitation in the last 180 days," he commented.

Rain in the Edmonton-area on May 7, 2024. (Evan Klippenstein/CTV News Edmonton)

"That area is still below average in and around Edmonton here or further to the north and through the Peace Country. Yes, you've had more than last year, but you're still really dry compared to average."

Classen says there's no set amount of precipitation that will improve the wildfire outlook.

"If every week moving forward, we can get a day or two where you get a good solid day of rain, that'll really help for the areas that get it. But like today's rainfall, there's not a lot of it that's hitting this northwest corner of the province where they could really use it."

He says conditions are also expected to change later this week.

"In the next five, seven days it doesn't look like there's a ton of precipitation coming. It's going to get hot towards the end of this week. It's going to be pretty dry. We're still in spring so it's going to be windy.

"So we're probably back into a situation where we're starting to, you know, we're dealing again with some grass fires and some wildfires."

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Amanda Anderson Top Stories

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