Wildfire smoke expected to return to Vancouver Island
VICTORIA -- A haze of smoke from U.S. wildfires is expected to hover over Vancouver Island later this week, according to Environment Canada.
Wildfire smoke from California is being pushed northward and will sweep across the island and areas of B.C.’s southern and central coasts on Wednesday, according to meteorologist Armel Castellan.
But unlike the thick layer of smoke that passed over the island earlier this month, Castellan predicts this wave of smoke will be a much thinner haze.
“It’s never great to have poor air quality, but the order of magnitude here is likely to be about 10 times less than what we saw a couple weeks ago,” Castellan told CFAX 1070 Tuesday.
The meteorologist says the smoke that swept over Vancouver Island in mid-September put approximately 200 micrograms per cubic metre of fine particulate matter into the air.
This week, Environment Canada predicts a range of 30 to 50 micrograms per cubic metre of fine particulate matter.
“Which is still not advisable to have but is certainly a lot better than what we saw a couple weeks ago,” said Castellan.
The meteorologist says this week’s smoke will appear more as a haze that hangs higher in the air than a thick, all-encompassing smog that was seen earlier this month.
“A lot of the smoke is going to be in the upper atmosphere," Castellan told CTV News. "We’re going to see hazy, milky skies - definitely more colour in the sunset and sunrises and what we’re expecting is some of it to settle into the lower atmosphere, where we live and breathe.”
The smoke is expected to be less thick because it is only coming from wildfires in California. In mid-September, smoke was reaching the island from wildfires in California, as well as Oregon and Washington state.
Castellan says the Oregon and Washington wildfires have been largely doused by the week of wet and stormy weather that the island and other areas of the West Coast saw last week.
He adds that predicting exactly when the smoke will arrive is difficult. He estimates that it will reach the island starting Wednesday and remain for the back half of the week, before easing over the weekend.
“My sense is that we’ll see this for at least a couple of days but then once we get into the early part of the weekend we’re going to start seeing that northwesterly flow pushing some of that [smoke] out,” said Castellan.
“(It’s a) two-, maybe three-day event as opposed to a seven-day, eight-day event that we saw last time,” he said.
Castellan also noted that despite a rainy and smoky couple of weeks in Victoria this month, the city is set to tie or possibly even break the temperature record for September as a whole.
The city’s colder weeks of weather were bookended by unseasonably high temperatures. The meteorologist noted that today, Sept. 29, temperatures are expected to reach a high of 23 C, while the historical average for this day is around 16 C.