Thunderstorm watch issued for Kamloops, risk of wildfires high

Lightning could spark fires

UPDATE 6:20 p.m.

Environment Canada has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for the South Thompson region and Kamloops.

"Conditions are favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms that may be capable of producing strong wind gusts, large hail and heavy rain this evening," said the weather notice.

Meanwhile, a severe thunderstorm warning is in place for Merritt and the Nicola as a cell of thunderclouds is moving north up the Coquihalla. It was expected to hit Merritt at about 6:20 p.m., EC said.

It does not appear these cells will make their way to the Okanagan, but thunderstorm risk will remain through to Thursday.

ORIGINAL 2:55 p.m.

Thunderstorms in the forecast could spark more wildfires in the Southern Interior Wednesday afternoon through to Thursday.

While significant lightning has been striking the west side of Vancouver Island and down into Washington over the past 24 hours, thunderstorms are forecast to move into B.C.'s southwest Interior Wednesday afternoon.

“The Southwest interior is also very likely to light up ... it's probably going to be not until mid-afternoon, maybe 3 p.m. at the earliest, but closer to 4 p.m., where that risk is highest, but what's interesting is it's going to last into the night,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Armel Castellan.

While Castellan says Wednesday's storm is expected to be largely dry, further thunderstorms into Thursday may bring some rain as well.

“We're going to see possibly more fires if this occurs, which it very much looks like it will,” Castellan says.

“And not only that, but there's human causes and then there's the existing fires. So there's going to be winds from the south, there's going to be possibly new wildfire starts with this transpiring.”

Neil McLoughlin, superintendent of predictive services with the BC Wildfire Service, says the upper low system bringing those storms from the U.S. is concerning.

“We are expecting new starts,” McLoughlin says in a video published Wednesday.

“That instability brings strong winds and that can create faster rates of spread for the active fires that are ongoing in the province.

“It's not bringing a lot of precipitation ... we're not going to see enough rain to put the fires out.”

Additionally, a strong ridge of high pressure is forecast to hit the Interior next week, bringing dry, hot conditions similar to what the region experienced in late July.

“I don't see a break coming through the month of August, aside from the days when the winds are lighter and we get a little bit of light precipitation,” McLoughlin says.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there are 59 active wildfires burning in the province, 19 of which were sparked in the past two days.

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