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Enough rain to control wildfires?


April 23, 2010 — Showers continue for parts of the Prairies tonight, but it's not expected to be enough to make a significant difference for the wildfires.

Fire crews have caught a bit of a break across the Prairies. A rain storm is helping to battle the wildfires that have been prominent this spring.

Unfortunately, forecasters report it won't be enough to make a huge difference in the situation. They say the ground is just too warm and dry and the rainfall totals will be too low to give the region the moisture it sorely needs.

Below average snowfall and a lack of rain have created the perfect recipe for wildfires in the Prairies.

Not to mention unseasonably warm temperatures. Several areas have been seeing record breaking highs over the past few days, and that's certainly helping to fuel the fires. “With the recent ridge out west, high pressure in the area has brought extremely dry conditions to Alberta and Saskatchewan,” says Weather Network's meteorologist Brian Dillon. “Temperatures in the low to mid 20's and persistent dry conditions this spring, is certainly not helping the wildfire situation.”

In Alberta alone, sixty fires are currently burning across the province. That is actually four times the normal average for April. As a result, fire bans are in effect for 50 communities including Edmonton.Fire crews were called in early this year to help control some of the areas that are listed at high to extreme risks.

On Tuesday, more than a hundred people were forced from their homes on the Paul First Nation. One house was completely destroyed in the flames and it hasn't been decided when residents can return home.

It's a similar story in Saskatchewan.

Fire officials have had to put out over 30 fires so far this season.

Between high temperatures and low humidity levels, the province is dealing with one of the driest springs.

And it doesn't end there.

Fire crews are on high alert in Manitoba as well. Crews were brought in a week early in case conditions get any worse.

“We haven't had a general rain in Manitoba this year,” says Gary Friesen of the Conservation Department. Authorities say that one of the more frustrating things about the situation is that all but one of the fires in Manitoba this year have been caused by people.

While residents and fire crews look to the skies for help, there's not enough wet weather in store.

“There's some rain and slightly cooler temperatures to provide a brief break for these areas,” says Dillon. “But it definitely won't be enough to stop the extreme risks.”

For the latest details on this story, tune into The Weather Network on TV. Your newscast comes up at :12 and :42 past every hour.

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