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Wildfires affecting Banff and Jasper NPs?

McLean, Virginia
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Wildfires affecting Banff and Jasper NPs?

Can anyone let me know if the wildfire situation is affecting the tourist sights in Banff and Jasper? How is visibility? Air quality? Travel? We are thinking of taking a trip in a few weeks to Banff and Jasper (August 12-26). I am very allergic to smoke. Thanks!

Jasper, Canada
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1. Re: Wildfires affecting Banff and Jasper NPs?

The "what's new" page on the Banff National Park website has information to answer almost all your questions: pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/banff/ne/neuf-news.aspx

Travel is not affected at all, other than the possibility of delays on a five kilometre stretch of the Icefields Parkway. No paid attractions or major scenic viewpoints are affected.

Jasper townsite area is free of smoke again today (the smoke we had was not from the fire in Banff National Park, but from other fires west and north of us). Checking the Lake Louise webcam http://cams.skilouise.com/cam9.jpg , I see that it is nice and clear there today too. Canmore also looks clear http://www.canmorealberta.com/webcams/ However, predicting where the smoke will drift is like predicting the weather - since the smoke's path does mainly depend on the weather, as in wind direction etc., so really, it is impossible to say what the situation will be in three weeks.

Edited: 20 July 2014, 16:55
McLean, Virginia
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2. Re: Wildfires affecting Banff and Jasper NPs?

Thank you very much, krp329. I've read that website. However, I still don't get a feel for how the fires would affect visibility. Would the Spreading Creek fire affect only the Lake Louise area or is it big enough to affect Jasper and Banff as well? Are the other fires close/big enough to affect Banff or Lake Louise in addition to Banff? There isn't any narrative that says the prevailing winds in the area are west to north, for example, or that smoke has drifted from multiple fires over Jasper or Lake Louise a lot/ very little in the past two weeks. Just was hoping for some more context from a local. However, if there is no prevailing wind pattern and it really is totally unpredictable that is also very good to know.

Jasper, Canada
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3. Re: Wildfires affecting Banff and Jasper NPs?

Smoke can drift for hundreds of kilometres (or miles!), Nancy. Generally speaking, the prevailing winds here in the Canadian Rockies (and the weather) comes from the west. Yesterday, the smoke from the Spreading Creek fire was drifting south down the Bow Valley, and through the day, Lake Louise, Banff, Canmore and Calgary all had visible haze from the smoke. Today it is gone, although the fire is still burning, so obviously the smoke is blowing elsewhere.

There is absolutely no way of knowing what the situation will be in three weeks. It's possible that the Spreading Creek fire will be no longer burning, but if the weather turns hot again, and especially if there wind up being thunderstorms, there could be new fires. With a bit of rain over the past few days, the fire hazard here in JNP has gone from "extreme" to "moderate", but that could be reversed with a few hot days. If the rest of the summer stays cool and rainy, we may be past the worst of it now (although that is probably not likely - I was listening to a radio program yesterday that said BC has already spent their annual budget for forest fires (there have been 638 fires in the province since April 1st, according to the BC wildfire branch website, and there are currently 69 fires burning there), and the unusual thing about this year is that it is still just the beginning of the fire season.) Wildfires are not a rare occurrence in western Canada - vast areas of Alberta, and BC are forested, and many years of fire suppression and the recent infestations of mountain pine beetle have created a lot of fuel in the forests.

If you need a guarantee that there will not be smoke in the air, I would suggest coming in the winter.

Calgary, Canada
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4. Re: Wildfires affecting Banff and Jasper NPs?

Although some of our worst grass fires have happened in winter... But they usually burn for a few days, at worst.

Edited: 20 July 2014, 19:49
McLean, Virginia
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5. Re: Wildfires affecting Banff and Jasper NPs?

Thank you both very much. I don't know much about wildfires, obviously, but what you say makes sense. I understand that there is always a chance of wildfires. But, since I and my son are asthmatic and very reactive to smoke, I am a bit hesitant to go when there are known wildfires burning in the areas we wish to visit. Your information is so helpful. I will discuss with my husband and see if we should postpone seeing your beautiful region until next year. Thank you!

Calgary, Canada
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6. Re: Wildfires affecting Banff and Jasper NPs?

I was in Banff over the weekend climbing a few mountains, then had a beer in Canmore and stayed in Banff. There was NO smoke which was due to the very high winds. The next day it was calm and again, no smoke. As the above said, its hard to predict, but in my opinion should never be a reason to cancel a trip….other then medical reasons.

Calgary, Canada
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7. Re: Wildfires affecting Banff and Jasper NPs?

I was scrambling right by the fire areas yesterday and today (Sat and Sun) and there are no air quality issues. No smoke and no smell of smoke.

There was a lot of rain (and snow!) over the weekend, and we saw just one itty bitty little smoke plume way back from Rt 11 (probably outside the park). The fire appeared to be, for all intents and purposes, out. Yesterday we saw one helicopter scooping water from Pinto Lake, but nothing today and apart from the signs, and the burned trees was off the road, you would not realize there had been much of a fire.

Toronto, Canada
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8. Re: Wildfires affecting Banff and Jasper NPs?

hi guys

any update of fire/smoke situation in banff/jasper?

thanks in advance

regards

Jasper, Canada
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9. Re: Wildfires affecting Banff and Jasper NPs?

I drove by the Spreading Creek fire a week ago, and did not see any fire or smoke.

We did have some smoke haze in the Jasper area a couple of days ago, but I don't know where it blew in from - there are no fires anywhere nearby. As I mentioned earlier, smoke can drift for hundreds of kilometres. Today is perfectly clear.

Banff, Canada
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10. Re: Wildfires affecting Banff and Jasper NPs?

We had smoke in Banff last night -- it's clear now.