Environment and Climate Change Canada is reporting that a number of communities in Saskatchewan have set some new records over the summer months.
The agency said La Ronge, Prince Albert, Saskatoon and Regina have all broken their previous records when it comes to smoke hours recorded since May of this year. Terri Lang, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada told MBC Radio News that in calculating smoke hours the agency has some specific metrics it uses.
“We define a smoke hour as an hour that’s been recorded where the viability has been reduced to 9.7 kilometers or less or six statute miles or less as smoke being the reason that visibility was reduced,” she said.
Lang explained Environment and Climate Change Canada is not able to record smoke hours across the entire province as they do not have the proper facilities across the province to do so. When it comes to the highest number of smoke hours recorded this year, Lang said the La Ronge area led the way, breaking a previous mark which had been in place since 2015.
“The station that has the highest number is La Ronge and up until just the other night, 802 hours of smoke has been recorded so far this year,” she said.
The previous record for La Ronge was 513 hours. Lang said the year the previous mark was set was when wildfires were right near the community.
“It’s quite a significant leap from that year,” she said.
Moving south, Prince Albert’s previous record, which had also stood since 2015 fell as the city recorded 355 smoke hours. Meanwhile Saskatoon broke a record which had stood since 1981 as they recorded 282 hours of smoke. Regina recorded 223 hours of smoke, which broke that city’s previous mark which was set in 2021.
Looking towards the future Lang explained warming global temperatures could mean that smoke hours will continue to increase in the future.
“Certainly the science of climate change would tell us that, that as we get warmer we tend to have dryer patterns and that tends to make the forest dryer and give more sort of fuel for fires to burn,” she said.
(Top Photo: A smoky day in Prince Albert. Photo by Michael Joel-Hansen.)