Improved air quality in Okanagan, Kamloops won't last - InfoNews

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Improved air quality in Okanagan, Kamloops won't last

The slightly less hazy skies Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020 aren't expected to last, with increasing smoke levels expected to return to the Okanagan and Thompson valleys late in the day and tomorrow.
September 16, 2020 - 11:00 AM

Enjoy the hazy sunshine, because it doesn’t look like it’s going to be around long.

The improved air quality conditions we are seeing today, Sept. 16, are not supposed to last.

An influx of cleaner air aloft made its way into Kamloops and the Okangan valley yesterday, somewhat alleviating the oppressive smoke from wildfires burning on the U.S. West Coast that was prevalent Sunday and Monday.

Air quality meteorologist Gail Roth said winds from the north and cleaner air in the upper atmosphere combined to scour out some of the smoke yesterday afternoon, leading to improved conditions this morning that are expected to last until this afternoon.

However, southerly winds should return later today, resulting in increasing amounts of smoke into the Thompson–Okanagan tonight and tomorrow.

Roth says even with the improvement over the last couple of days, we’re still looking at very poor air quality this morning.

Penticton, Kelowna and Vernon’s air quality index were at 7 this morning, which is considered high risk, and 5 or moderate risk, in Kamloops.

“Yesterday they were pretty much all up around 10,” Roth says.

“There should be pretty significant improvement over the weekend. It’s just the way the weather systems are sitting, they’re staying in the same place with the current configuration generally bringing smoke up from the south. That’s essentially continuing, but on Saturday a low pressure system off the coast is going to move on land, bringing instability with it and a more thorough mixing of the atmosphere,” she says.

She expects the air to begin clearing on the coast early on the weekend, with the interior following.

“It’s been pretty widespread, provincially,” she says of the smoke.

The province's air quality health index reflected a brief improvement in conditions early today with only Castlegar, Nanaimo and the south Okanagan ranked at the top of the 10-point scale.

But the index, which measures health risks from a combination of pollutants including particulate matter caused by wildfire smoke, shows a very high risk for southern B.C. later today and through Thursday.

The elderly, children and those with health issues are urged to reduce or avoid strenuous outdoor activities when risks are rated as high or very high.

Predicted smoke levels for Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020 in southern B.C.
Predicted smoke levels for Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2020 in southern B.C.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / B.C. Asthma Prediction System

Predicted smoke levels for B.C. Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020.
Predicted smoke levels for B.C. Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / B.C. Asthma Prediction System

— With files from The Canadian Press


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