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Air quality in Kamloops improves, but smoke may return this week

The mountains around Kamloops have re-appeared as hazy skies cleared up earlier this week, but Environment Canada says smoke from wildfires burning around B.C. may return in time for the weekend.
smoke

The mountains around Kamloops have re-appeared as hazy skies cleared up earlier this week, but Environment Canada says smoke from wildfires burning around B.C. may return in time for the weekend.

A northeasterly wind cleared the skies over Kamloops, pushing the smoke toward the Lower Mainland between Sunday and Monday, meteorologist Lisa Erven told KTW.

That trend should to continue into Wednesday, but winds may shift again Thursday as an expected cold front moves through the area, bringing the potential for smoky skies to return, she said.

Potential rainfall accompanying that front, however, may help keep smoky skies at bay by scattering fine particulate matter in the air.

There is a 60 per cent of showers on Thursday and Friday, as well as next Sunday and Monday, according to Environment Canada’s seven-day forecast.

Potential lightning strikes with that storm, however, may also generate new fire starts, Erven told KTW.

More than 500 wildfires are burning throughout B.C, the majority of which are in the Interior, including large fires to the northwest and south of Kamloops, Erven said.

“It’s really challenging to forecast air quality when you’ve got so many fires burning across the province,” Erven said. “Really, any wind direction is not great.”

The improvement of air quality this week in Kamloops is thanks to the wind blowing in from a direction where there isn’t as much smoke, as opposed to originating from where there is a heavy concentration from fires.

Levels of fine particulate matter skyrocketed in Kamloops last weekend as winds brought in more smoke from wildfires burning in central B.C.

Particulate matter 2.5 micrometres or smaller in size (PM2.5) reached more than 350 micrograms per cubic metre on Saturday, but came come down to the 50 μg/m3 range as of Monday.

Air quality health index values for Kamloops on Saturday were measured at 10+ (very high risk) but as of noon on Tuesday were at level 4 (moderate risk).