Air quality drops as haze descends on South Island

Health risks to rise today and tomorrow as weather heats up, smoke drifts in

The air quality is set to drop today and tomorrow as clearly shown by the smoke in the skies near Oak Bay Marina. (Oak Bay Marine Group/Twitter)

As a haze descends over the city, Greater Victoria air remains at low health risk according to the province.

That’s set to change today.

Early Wednesday, Environment Canada issued a smoky skies bulletin for south and East Vancouver Island as well as the Gulf Islands.

“The current weather pattern over the BC coast is causing outflow winds to carry smoke from wildfires burning in the BC Interior towards the coast. Smoke concentrations will vary widely as winds, fire behaviour and temperatures change,” the bulletin reads. Exposure to increased smoke concentrations is particularly a concern for infants, the elderly and those who have underlying medical conditions such as heart or lung disease.

Those at risk should avoid strenuous activities and prolonged exposure to smoke. Individuals, who experience any of the following symptoms, should contact their health care provider: difficulty in breathing, chest pain or discomfort, and sudden onset of cough or irritation of airways.

A low risk means residents can enjoy usual outdoor activities, while the moderate suggests those with health risks should consider reducing or rescheduling strenuous activities and outdoor activities if symptoms arise.

Smoke from wildfires burning in the Interior drifts down through valleys into coastal areas due to a change in weather conditions, according the Coastal Fire Centre. Winds were expected to switch to outflow conditions and move air from the Interior to the coast.

At the same time, temperature records are expected to break during the first major heat wave of the season hit the Island this week as a massive ridge of high pressure built over southern B.C.

Environment Canada issued a special weather statement early Wednesday for inland Vancouver Island.

“Heat-related illnesses are more likely during prolonged periods of hot weather. Everyone is at risk of heat-related illness. Those most vulnerable to high temperatures include young children, pregnant women, the elderly, those working or exercising in the heat, persons with chronic illnesses, people living alone in un-air-conditioned homes, and the homeless,” the statement reads.

Daily temperatures records from today to Friday will probably be broken in a few communities. And the all time records for the month of August might be threatened, too. For example, the highest August temperature ever recorded at Abbotsford is 36.3 degrees and the forecast for Thursday is 35.


 

@OakBayNews
cvanreeuwyk@oakbaynews.com

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