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Smoky skies linger over Elk Valley

Air quality in interior B.C. is currently low as smoke is pushed inland from the coast
Smoky conditions at the Crowsnest Pass between B.C. and Alberta on Sep. 12 2020. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)

Southern B.C. and parts of Alberta are under a haze of smoke from the wildfires burning in Washington and Oregon, with a smoky skies advisory in place for southeastern B.C. since last week.

Weather patterns are pushing smoke from the coast over the interior, with conditions forecast to improve as the week goes on. According to Environment Canada, air quality will improve marginally on Tuesday (Sep. 15) for much of B.C. as weather patterns push the smoke back south.

Air quality health risk in the East Kootenay and the Elk Valley is currently (Sep. 14) rated as very high, and Environment Canada recommends any at-risk residents (those with heart or breathing problems) should avoid strenuous activities outdoors, while children and the elderly should also avoid any outdoor physical exertion.

Environment Canada also recommends more broadly that everyone - not just the at-risk population - should reduce, or delay their outdoor exercise until conditions have improved.

According to an Environment Canada release from Sep. 13, the smoky conditions in the area will remain for the next 24 to 72 hours.

“With falling temperatures overnight, temperature inversions in mountain valleys can increase the likelihood of smoke being trapped near the ground.”

In a release, Interior Health (IH) warned “people should stay indoors as much as possible, and close windows if they can.”

IH said that smoke can worsen symptoms for those with pre-existing respiratory conditions and cardiac disease.

The health authority warned that those near where smoke or particulates are significant should consider leaving the area until the air has cleared.

READ MORE: U.S. wildfire smoke blankets B.C., wafts east to Alberta, affecting air quality
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