Smoke from U.S. wildfires keeps B.C. air quality at poor levels, moves east

British Columbia's skies have been smoky in recent days due to roaring wildfires burning across western United States. The smoke is going to start to head into southern Alberta.

The smoke from wildfires in Washington state and Oregon is still clouding southern areas of British Columbia, creating poor air quality conditions.

Most of Vancouver Island and all of the inner South Coast and southern B.C., east to the Kootenay region, are under a special air quality statement.

"Wildfire smoke from fires in Washington and Oregon has moved northward into the region and is forecast to impact air quality through the weekend as a large mass of smoke move through," says Environment Canada in the statement issued for Metro Vancouver.

The agency also said the fine particulate matter advisory remains in effect for Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Regional District due to wildfire smoke from outside the region.


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Environment Canada's air quality health index lists air quality at moderate to very high risk for many parts of southern B.C., meaning those with health issues should reduce outdoor activities. Air quality in Victoria and Metro Vancouver are expected to improve Monday. Environment Canada explains that "localized smoke concentrations may vary widely across the region as winds and temperatures change, and as wildfire behaviour changes."

"Exposure to PM2.5 is particularly a concern for people with underlying conditions such as lung disease, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and/or diabetes, individuals with respiratory infections such as COVID-19, pregnant women and infants, children, and older adults. Individuals who are socially marginalized may also be at elevated risk," cautions Environment Canada.

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With temperatures getting up to the upper-20s across parts of southern B.C. Sunday, residents are reminded to stay cool and hydrated.

"Indoor spaces with HEPA air cleaner filtration and air conditioning may offer relief from both heat and air pollution," recommends the agency.

The ridge of high pressure that's kept the province locked in a hot weather pattern will somewhat wane next week, with opportunities for showers but no major storms are in sight, yet.

BC Records - Sept 10, 2020

"Next week will not be as warm as this week, but above-seasonal temperatures will continue to dominate," says Weather Network meteorologist Dr. Doug Gillham.

Below is a look at some of the hazy skies observed across the province this week:

UGC: US wildfires cause smoky skies in Patricia Bay, British Columbia. Courtesy: Frank Towler

Smoky skies at Patricia Bay, B.C. on Sept. 8. Submitted by: Frank Towler

Thumbnail image courtesy: Mark Gillespie/submitted.

Contains files from The Canadian Press