Snowy Mountain wildfire spread sooty rainfall into Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Snowy Mountain wildfire spread sooty rainfall into Okanagan

There was enough soot and ash in the Okanagan Valley to fall from the sky in raindrops late yesterday afternoon, July 31, 2018.
August 01, 2018 - 3:50 PM

PENTICTON - The Snowy Mountain wildfire continued to expand yesterday, spreading ash, sooty rain and smoke into the Okanagan valley.

Late yesterday afternoon, July 31, a brief shower in the Penticton area dropped sooty rain and ash in an area from Penticton south to Okanagan Falls.

Environment Canada meteorologist Lisa Ervin says satellite imagery taken yesterday indicated a wind shift to north-north east resulted in strong winds blowing smoke from the Snowy Mountain and Placer Mountain fires directly into the Okanagan.

With the smoke came some afternoon thunderstorm activity over higher elevations. Some of that activity drifted over the Okanagan valley, resulting in the brief rain showers in the South Okanagan.

Ervin says ash particles can act as “condensation nuclei,” allowing water vapour to condense around the particles. The rain droplets falling to the ground can hit the soot particles and absorb them.

“The rain can be good by helping clear the air, but in this case it also created a mess wherever it landed,” she said.

Yesterday’s lightning was expected north of Vernon, but wasn’t anticipated in the South Okanagan. Ervin says nearly 1,000 lightning strikes were recorded throughout the Okanagan, out of 40,000 recorded province-wide.

Ervin says today, Aug. 1, and tomorrow could pose the most severe risk of thunderstorms in the region as temperatures begin moderating as the weekend approaches.

B.C. Wildfire reports the Snowy Mountain blaze, which started July 17, grew to 6,155 ha in size yesterday. There is rank 5 fire behaviour in some areas as the blaze is driven by sustained 30 km/h south winds.

The east and north sides of the fire grew significantly as crews worked to cut a hand guard north of Susap Creek.

Wildfire crews and members of the Keremeos Fire Department worked on the fire overnight, which is now classified as an interface fire.

Evacuation alerts expanded to a large portion of the South Similkameen between the U.S. border and the western boundary of Keremeos yesterday.

The Snowy Mountain wildfire, south of Keremeos, continued to expand yesterday, July 31, 2018.
The Snowy Mountain wildfire, south of Keremeos, continued to expand yesterday, July 31, 2018.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED

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