Today’s air quality is rated a “high health risk” yet again, but some relief is on the way in the form of a cold-weather system.
“The problem with the smoke is that we are surrounded by fires, there is smoke in every direction,” said meteorologist Doug Lundquist. “Right now we are in an air mass that is just trapping that smoke — it is stuck underneath an inversion and it was not going anywhere.”
But, as predicted earlier this week, a cold front in the forecast for the next 48 hours.
“The cold front is coming through that comes with the hope that maybe there will be a millimetre or two of rain to wet things down, rain itself clears the air out a little bit, plus we will get the flow of air coming from a different direction,” said Lundquist.
“More west instead of south from Oregon and Washington, where there is a massive number of fires. With a westerly flow the air is generally a little cleaner.”
The cold front is expected to move in tomorrow and bring a couple millimetres of rain throughout the Okanagan and Shuswap.
“Rain is expected for Friday, Friday night and into Saturday. For the entire southwest interior region of the province,” said Lunquist.
“In the Kelowna area we are looking at several millimetres of rain, maybe even 15 mm at Big White, but in the Salmon Arm area there is just one or two mm forecast. It will be quite variable.”
While the rain is good news, this new system does also bring a chance of thunderstorms. However, Lundquist believes the risk is low.
As for whether this rain is enough to calm the fires, he said it all makes a difference.
“Even with cloud, a cold front and no rain, it cools us down enough that the humidity comes up and it definitely helps,” said Lundquist.
Cooler weather is just a temporary reprieve, as temperatures are expected to climb back up early next week.
“The temperatures will pop back up in to the mid 20s.” said Lundquist. “Every time we get a cold front this time of year, it never warms back up to as high as it was previously, which is good news. We are definitely not out of the woods yet.
“Even if the air clears up, there is a fire in every direction. If the plume comes our way, it will remain smoky, but I do think there will be a clearing in the next 48 hours.”
Lundquist, like many of us, is fed up with the constant smoke and worried about the impact it is having on all of our health.
“It is a factor in human health, just the grayness affects us psychologically, you know. In a physiological sense, smoke is harmful to human health, especially those at risk, I think even healthy people are finding it difficult,” said Lundquist.
“I am certain this grayness is not good for us mentally, there are many reasons it would be good to clean up the air.”