A wintery blast Thursday night did little to dull the wildfire risk and a fire ban will likely remain in place well into next week.
Fierce winds and dry conditions prompted the city to impose a fire ban on Thursday afternoon.
The ban includes all outdoor fires with the exception of gas-fuelled barbecues.
St. Albert fire Chief Ray Richards said with the high winds and record low moisture levels the city wants to be extra cautious before something gets out of hand.
“We just want to make sure we don’t have a small fire spread into something really big,” he said. “It is just a precaution with these high winds.”
Richards said the fire department has been called to a number of small grass fires so far this spring, but they have been able to contain them without much damage.
He said the high winds could whip up a blaze very quickly. Until there is a significant rain the danger is going to exist.
“The potential is there for some serious property damage.”
Richards said he is particularly concerned about the annexed lands where there is the potential for a significant fire in the open fields.
The province has already warned that this could be a very bad fire season with moisture levels well below average across huge sections of Alberta.
As of February moisture levels in the Capital region were only 49 per cent of expected amounts.
Richards said Thursday’s snow added very little moisture to the ground and won’t have a long-term impact.
“Next week’s forecast is for more double-digit temperatures and no moisture.”
St. Albert is now among several municipalities issuing total fire bans including Sturgeon and Strathcona County and bans also now exist in most provincial parks.
The city is also asking anyone operating an ATV to use extreme caution in grassy areas.