Light haze from wildfires hangs over Okanagan Valley Thursday

Haze hangs over Valley

While B.C.'s smoky skies bulletin doesn't currently cover the Okanagan, it appears some high-elevation haze is moving through the Valley.

Southwesterly winds are blowing some smoke from wildfires in Oregon and Washington across the border Thursday afternoon, while the large Keremeos Creek wildfire continues to give off smoke. But air quality at ground level doesn't appear to be impacted at this time.

“There seems to be increasing smoke in the Okanagan area this afternoon, but not seeing any high concentrations at ground level,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Bobby Sekhon.

“So you'll likely continue to see those hazy skies over the next few days. Really, you can expect to see up and down haze at least for the next few weeks until the forest fires settle down.”

The smoke forecast map at FireSmoke.ca, produced by UBC, show widespread light smoke across the Okanagan until about 7 p.m. Thursday, with heavier smoke hitting the Osoyoos and Oliver area later this evening. The forecast shows light smoke returning to the region Friday afternoon.

The air quality index for the South and Central Okanagan is currently at a three out of 10, while the North Okanagan is at a two. These all fall under the category of “low risk.”

A smoky skies bulletin was issued Thursday morning for the southeast corner of the province, excluding the Okanagan.

“With the smoke out there right now, it is possible that levels will creep up to the point where we have a smoky skies bulletin [in the Okanagan]; we evaluate that every morning,” said Ben Weinstein, senior air quality meteorologist with B.C.'s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy.

The region remains under a heat warning, and Thursday is forecast to be the hottest day of the week. Temperatures are expected to return to the low 30s through the weekend, with a chance of thunderstorms coming Friday and Saturday.

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