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Air quality in Victoria expected to worsen due to wildfire smoke


Wildfire smoke drifts in front of the sun in Victoria on Sept. 5.

If you were outside on Tuesday, you couldn’t have missed it. Smoke filling the skies, obscuring views and even making it hard to breathe for some. All because of wildfires in the south and east. Calvin To has more.

Smoke drifting in from the wildfires in the United States and B.C.’s Interior has prompted Environment Canada to issue a special air quality statement for Victoria.

Environment Canada issued the statement Tuesday morning for Victoria/Saanich and the West Shore. According to Environment Canada, the wildfire smoke from the Interior and Washington state is causing poor air quality and reduced visibility.

The Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) in Victoria is expected to reach eight out of 10 on Wednesday, which is considered “high-risk.” The AQHI is expected to get to five out of 10 in Victoria/Saanich on Tuesday, which is considered a moderate risk. Light ash could be seen falling in Victoria on Tuesday.


Ash is seen on a car in Victoria on Sept. 5.

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change Strategy, as well as Island Health, has issued a smoky-skies bulletin for Greater Victoria, East Vancouver Island, Inland Vancouver Island, North Vancouver Island, Southern Gulf Island and West Vancouver Island.

Environment Canada said exposure to increased smoke concentrations is a concern for infants, the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions such as heart or lung disease.

Those at risk are advised to avoid strenuous activities and prolonged exposure to smoke. Anyone who experiences difficulty in breathing, chest pain or discomfort and a sudden onset cough or irritation of airways should contact their health provider.

There is also a special weather statement in effect for Greater Victoria, the Southern Gulf Islands, East Vancouver Island and Inland Vancouver Island due to an “unreasonably strong ridge of high pressure,” that continues to build over British Columbia on Tuesday. Daytime temperatures are expected to reach the mid-20s near the coast and the low 30s inland. The slightly cooler pattern is due to the thick smoke. Temperatures are still expected to be a little warmer on Wednesday as some of the smoke thins.

Later on Wednesday, an onshore flow is expected to develop, with a cooler airmass to spread over the south coast as the smoke moves east.

The heat wave over B.C. caused daily temperature records to be broken in Comox/Courtenay, Esquimalt, Gonzales Point, Malaht, Port Alberni, Port Hardy and Victoria on Monday.

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