Improving smoke levels in Kamloops, Okanagan are only temporary - InfoNews

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Improving smoke levels in Kamloops, Okanagan are only temporary

Kamloops is expected to see the biggest improvement in air quality today, but the change isn't expected to last, as a southerly flow is expected to bring more wildfire smoke from U.S. wildfires to Kamloops and the Okanagan on Wednesday afternoon.
September 15, 2020 - 12:19 PM

Cleaner air from the B.C. Interior is helping clear some smoke from Kamloops and the Okanagan today, but it’s only temporary and the clearing conditions won’t likely be experienced fully by everyone.

Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist says smoke is still really bad, but it has thinned today, Sept. 15, in Penticton and Kelowna, allowing a little more sun to warm up the valley bottom.

“Some clean air over the central Interior has moved down into the Kamloops area, which is clearing the air up in that city today,” Lundquist says.

Kamloops is expected to see the biggest improvement in air quality today, but it won’t last.

READ MORE: Seeping under doors, bad air from U.S. West Coast's wildfires won't ease up

“That cleaner air is trying to filter down this way, but it’s only temporary and I don’t think it will make it down to Penticton, possibly not below Vernon,” Lundquist says.

Special air quality statements continue for both the Thompson and Okanagan valleys.

Whatever improvement that cleaner air brings to Kamloops and the Okanagan will begin disappearing by Wednesday afternoon, when a change in the weather is expected to bring back more smoke from the wildfires burning in Washington State, Oregon and California back into the valleys.

A frontal system expected Friday and Saturday offers the best hope at this time for clearing the air.

"I’m holding hope it cleans things up a lot, but it’s not a given,” Lundquist says.

The meteorologist says this month marks the start of the Okanagan’s inversion season, which occurs mainly during the winter months when reduced ground heating makes it hard to stir up the atmosphere.

Lundquist says smoke makes the inversion stronger than normal in September because the smoke prevents the sun from reaching the ground and warming it up.

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