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Heavy rainfall expected in western Alberta as wildfire battle continues | CBC News

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A deluge of rainfall in western Canada may provide some firefighting relief as Alberta continues to battle wildfires throughout the province.

According to the Alberta Wildfire status dashboard, there are 81 active wildfires in forest protection areas, with 22 considered out of control. Evacuation orders remain in effect for at least 10 areas.

Environment and Climate Change Canada has forecasted rain and cooler temperatures for the first half of this week. 

The agency issued a warning Monday morning for a large swathe of western Alberta, stating that rainfall with total amounts of 50 to 75 millimetres is expected by mid-week. 

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Brian Proctor, a meteorologist with ECCC, said in an interview Monday the province has been dominated by an upper ridge causing warmer temperatures. 

A trough of low pressure is now moving from the Pacific through British Columbia while embedded moisture comes up from the United States. Proctor said an upper-level low — colder air — will form in the atmosphere around the B.C. Peace River area.

He said communities west of Peace River and west of Grande Prairie are now beginning to see some shower activity.

“It is coming. It’s probably a little slower than we were initially forecasting, but it definitely is on the way.”

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Thunderstorms are a possibility in certain areas, Proctor said. Alberta Wildfire has monitoring equipment to respond to any strikes and check for lightning-caused fire.

Map of Canada with a section of Alberta and British Columbia in red, denoting rainfall warning
A rainfall warning was issued by Environment Canada on Monday for the M.D. of Greenview near Fox Creek. (Environment and Climate Change Canada)

Proctor warned that the heavy rainfall could bring its own dangers — rising streams and debris flows from burnt areas where vegetation no longer exists to absorb moisture.

“It can run off faster and that often trends with fairly difficult conditions to drive in, difficult conditions for the wildfire fighters that are out there trying to fight those fires.”

A special air quality statement remains over most of Alberta as smoke continues to cause poor air quality and reduce visibility. 

In Edmonton, the air quality health index was set at seven on Monday afternoon, posing a moderate to high risk but below the 10+ of the previous day.

More than 500 fires have burned in the province to date this year, destroying more than 940,000 hectares.

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