Air quality at high health risk in Okanagan Valley

Forecasters expect wildfire smoke to stick around through the weekend

The air quality health index had forecasted a better Friday for the Okanagan region earlier this week, however it has gotten worse.

The North, Central and South Okanagan currently sit at seven (high health risk) on the scale and is expected to stay there for the remainder of the day. Kamloops is currently at a eight and forecasted to move to a 10 on the scale later today and into tomorrow. Details on the ratings can be found by clicking here.

Related: Kamloops air pollution double the level that triggered 2015 ‘red alert’ in China

Alyssa Charbonneau, meteorologist with Environment Canada, said the general weather pattern is not changing significantly over the next few days.

“We do expect wildfire smoke to still have an impact through the weekend … hot and dry conditions will continue and it is really hard to tell how that wildfire smoke will impact the area as there will be small variations in wind. We don’t think we will be done with the smoke anytime soon.”

Charbonneau said northernly winds have swept through part of the Central Interior clearing that area out a bit. Those winds could cause some variation in the smoke in the air in the Okanagan region, but she doesn’t expect the winds to persist for long.

“It could be quite stagnant after that.”

A special air quality bulletin remains in effect for the entire Okanagan due to smoke conditions. Areas covered by this Bulletin include: 100 Mile, Arrow Lakes, Boundary, Cariboo North, Cariboo South, Chilcotin, East Columbia, East Kootenay, Elk Valley, Fraser Canyon, Kinbasket, Kootenay Lake, Kootenay Park, Nicola, North Columbia, North Thompson, Okanagan, Prince George, Shuswap, Similkameen, Slocan Lake, South Thompson, West Columbia, West Kootenay, Yellowhead, and Yoho Park.

It is being advised to avoid strenuous outdoor activities. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, contact your health care provider: difficulty in breathing, chest pain or discomfort, and sudden onset of cough or irritation of airways. Exposure is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, and lung or heart disease.

This bulletin will remain in effect until further notice.