Air quality improves slightly in Interior, but advisories still in place

Smoky skies clear slightly

UPDATE: 4:05 p.m.

While smoke from United States' wildfires remains in the air across much of Southern B.C., air quality has "improved considerably."

In a smoky skies bulletin posted Wednesday afternoon, the province says winds from the south are expected to bring smoke to the southern part of B.C. over the next 24 to 48 hours.  

While the South Okanagan hit a 10 on the air quality health index Wednesday morning, as of this afternoon, it's currently rated at an eight. The Central Okanagan is rated at seven, while the North Okanagan is a six. Kamloops is currently rated a five. 

Most of Metro Vancouver is currently rated at an eight, while the Fraser Valley is at a four.

"Air quality has improved considerably across southern B.C. overnight however fine particulate matter levels remain elevated," the bulletin says. 

"Smoke will be visible aloft throughout the lower half of the province. Additional regions across the central part of the province may be added to the bulletin tomorrow."

ORIGINAL: 9:40 a.m.

Smoky skies have cleared slightly in parts of British Columbia, but Environment Canada is maintaining air quality statements for the entire southern third of the province.

For the first time in days, the weather office lifted smoky skies bulletins for all areas north of Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and Thompson regions.

But it says wildfire smoke carried north from blazes in Washington state, Oregon and California is expected to continue blanketing southern B.C. at least until later this week.

The province's air quality health index reflected a brief improvement in conditions early Wednesday 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.

– The Canadian Press

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