Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News

Steve Mullensky/for Peninsula Daily News

Smoky blanket hangs over Okanagan

Kelowna - The smoke is expected to last for a few more days

Expect smoky skies this weekend in the Okanagan.

The north, central and South Okanagan air quality levels were considered unhealthy Saturday, according to the Real-time Air Quality Index.

The air quality index is measured using PM2.5, which is is the measurement of tiny particles in the air that reduce visibility when levels are elevated. Outdoor PM2.5 levels are most likely to be elevated on days with little or no wind or air mixing.

PM2.5 is measured on a scale from 0 to 500. As of Saturday morning, Kelowna’s sat at 154 PM2.5, while Coldstream sat at 214 PM2.5 and Vernon was 190 PM2.5.

In the last week, this measure of pollution has reached record highs in the valley.

READ MORE: Triathalon cancelled in Kelowna due to smoke

In Kelowna, last weekend high’s of PM2.5 was 473 — a volume that is deemed hazardous. On Monday, the level dropped to 178 PM2.5 and on Tuesday it reached a low of 152.

Over the Central and Southern Interior, where northwesterly winds will prevail, little to no improvement is expected over the next few days, according to Environment Canada.

The latest forecast models are suggesting more conservative rainfall amounts over the weekend so current wildfires will see little help from the rain. Communities downwind of wildfires will continue to experience high concentrations of fine particulate matter and poor air quality for the foreseeable future, according to a statement issued by Environment Canada.

According to the Real Time Air Quality Index, air quality is predicted to improve moving into the week.

READ MORE: Okanagan’s smoke filled skies toxic to pets

During a wildfire, smoke conditions can change quickly over short distances and can vary considerably hour-by-hour, the statement said.

People with pre-existing health conditions, the elderly, infants, children and sensitive individuals are more likely to experience health effects from smoke exposure, the statement said.

Residents took to Facebook to express their concerns as the smoky blanket continues to hang over the valley.

Rebekah Johnston posted “Well that’s depressing,” while Karen Moore wrote “Was hoping to get out tomorrow. Hmm maybe not.”


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