The Alberta wildfire smoke is on its way to the Lower Mainland

Following our unseasonable heatwave that we experienced last week, we are now preparing for thick wildfire smoke to roll in later today (Wednesday, May 17th). Meteorologists predict that the smoke will likely remain for a few days.

The smoke is being blown in by Northeastern winds, which is drawing smoke from the wildfires in Peace country and Northern Alberta. The province of Alberta is currently littered with wildfires, with 92 active fires as of this morning, 27 of which are out of control. These fires have caused heavy smoke to descend upon most of the province, including the cities of Calgary and Edmonton, both of which are currently blanketed by a thick layer of smoke. Edmonton is currently under a special air quality statement; as of this morning their Air Quality Health Index was rated at 10+, or very high risk.

Meteorologist Michael Kuss says that the air quality in Vancouver isn’t going to be anywhere near as bad as what they’re experiencing in Alberta. Kuss says it will be “slightly noticeable. Not sure how much [will] filter down to the surface and deteriorates the air quality, but it will create hazier conditions and again tomorrow into the evening.”

Experts are also saying that the unseasonably hot temperatures that we experienced might not be going anywhere any time soon. Some experts say that these record-breaking temperatures are an indication of changing trends and higher average temperatures to come.

Along with hot weather comes an increased risk of wildfires, so it is reasonable to predict that these changing trends will lead to an upsurge of smoke and overall lower air quality levels.

These increased temperatures can also be concerning in developed urban areas such as the cities of Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton, as infrastructure like concrete and pavement absorb more heat than foliage and natural landscapes. These added variables could create a dangerous environment for the residents of the cities, especially the elderly and medically vulnerable. Heat waves are among the deadliest of natural disasters, and the risk of them often go under acknowledged.

Fortunately, the city of Vancouver is better equipped for extreme weather now than they were two years ago, when we experienced the June 2021 heat dome which killed 619 people.

Medical professionals say that they are experiencing an increase in heat-related emergency calls, but they are not expecting the same urgency that was experienced in 2021. Citizens are advised to continually evaluate how they’re feeling and stay indoors if necessary.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *