Beware of thunder, hail this weekend

Visitors and residents alike are wished a happy B.C. Day long weekend. We hope it’s happy – and safe.

Visitors and residents alike are wished a happy B.C. Day long weekend. We hope it’s happy – and safe. Special emphasis on the safe.

After a month-long dry spell, meteorologists report the weather pattern across southern B.C. is about to change. The persistent ridge of high pressure that has steered all weak summer storms northward into the Gulf Of Alaska will be replaced by a weak low pressure system that will eventually bring showers and thundershowers.

There are many large public events scheduled for the BC day long weekend. Event organizers should be especially aware that lightning, downpours, gusty winds and hail often accompany thunderstorms. Campers, boaters and hikers noticing a darkening sky or sudden increases in the wind, should seek shelter immediately when thunderstorms are in the forecast.

The public is advised to monitor future forecasts and warnings as warnings may be required or extended.

And, the lightning may add to the danger of wild fires.

At the moment, with much of the Kamloops Fire Centre at high risk for wildfires, including Salmon Arm which is at extreme risk, the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations has put the lid on all open burning, including campfires effective Aug. 1.

Seventy-seven per cent of the wildfires in the region this year have been caused by people.

Open burning is prohibited throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre. This applies to open fires of any size, fires with a burn registration number, industrial burning, fireworks, tiki torches, sky lanterns and burning barrels.

The prohibition does not apply to cooking stoves that use gas, propane or briquettes, or to a portable campfire apparatus with a CSA or ULC rating that uses briquettes, liquid or gaseous fuel, as long as the height of the flame is less than 15 centimetres.

The prohibition applies to all BC Parks, Crown and private lands and will be in place until further notice. The City of Salmon Arm is following suit in the prohibition.

Then there are the Shuswap’s many beautiful lakes and rivers. This July, there has been a spike in the number of drowning deaths around B.C. An analysis by the B.C. Coroners Service found that from 2008 to 2012, half of all drowning victims were involved in recreational activities. The B.C. Interior had the largest proportion of drowning deaths, 35.5 per cent.

So, while it’s important to have fun this long weekend, please have fun responsibly – for your sake and the sake of the beautiful Shuswap.