Want a break from the smoke? Try heading for the hills above Kamloops, Okanagan | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Want a break from the smoke? Try heading for the hills above Kamloops, Okanagan

It's not perfect, but the air in Sun Peaks at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 3 looked a lot clearer than in Kamloops.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Sun Peaks
August 04, 2021 - 7:30 AM

Downhill skiers in the Thompson and Okanagan regions are quite used to driving out from under a low overcast sky and into glorious sunshine as they head up to their favourite ski hills.

The same can happen during smoky summer days.

“There’s a high pressure ridge sort of going through the centre of the province for the next couple of days,” Gail Roth, a meteorologist with B.C.’s Ministry of Environment, told iNFOnews.ca. “It is creating overnight inversions and there’s not much wind to speak of so there’s a lot of smoke getting trapped in the valleys at this time.”

While most of the valley was in thick smoke all weekend, some higher elevation areas were virtually free of the grey stuff. That's where our inversions are working against us, pushing that smoke down.

Inversions are common all over the world, said Doug Lundquist, a meteorologist with Environment Canada.

“We have them all year round,” he said. “You just don’t notice them in the summer until you get smoke stuck in them. Smoke can make it worse too in the sense that it releases the heating at the surface and then the air is less likely to mix.”

The problem with wildfire smoke, however, is that it’s unpredictable. 

“It can be highly variable over short distances and can change quite dramatically in the matter of an hour,” Roth said.

There were days last week where it was as smoky or smoker at higher elevations than in valley bottoms but the weekend was fairly clear at higher elevations.

It can also vary depending on the location of individual fires.

So, the key to taking a break by heading to Big White, Silver Star, Sun Peaks or even many mid-elevation lakes for the day is to check before you go and realize that things may change by the time you get there. Your best bet is to check their webcams. Here's Big White's, Silver Star's and Sun Peaks'.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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