Canada lightning strikes stoke fires


Smoke rises from a wildfire at Long Loch and Derrickson Lake in Central Okanagan, British Columbia

Lightning strikes in Western Canada over the past two days soared nearly tenfold from the same time a year ago, triggered in part by a record-breaking heat wave, meteorologists said, warning of more strikes over the weekend that could further stoke forest fires fanned by high winds.


Over 710,000 lightning strikes were recorded in British Columbia and western Alberta between 3 p.m. on Wednesday and 6 a.m. on Thursday, up from an average 8,300 from the same period over the past five years, said Chris Vagasky, a meteorologist with Vaisala, a global environmental measurements company which collects the data.


The Pacific province of British Columbia has been recovering from the grip of an unprecedented heat wave, which has so far caused 719 confirmed deaths, triple what would normally occur in the same time period, the province’s chief coroner said on Friday.


During the heat wave, the town of Lytton broke Canada’s 80-plus year old heat record with a 49.6°C (121.28°F) temperature. A forest fire that started on Wednesday razed Lytton to the ground, and caused two deaths. The cause of the fire was under