Thick wildfire smoke blankets most of Vancouver Island amid heatwave

Thick wildfire smoke blankets most of Vancouver Island amid heatwave
WatchOn top of the heat warning, a 'Special Air Quality Statement' has been issued for much of Central and Southern Vancouver Island. The wildfire smoke from the Interior and the U.S. has arrived. But, as Hannah Lepine tells us, it may be irritating but it could also be protecting us.

Smoke from provincial wildfires has been making its way to Vancouver Island amid higher than normal temperatures.

Islanders woke up on Thursday morning to a hazy sky and here in Greater Victoria, the Olympic Mountains are nowhere in sight when looking off Dallas Road.

The smoke is expected to last over the weekend, and as of Friday morning the province has labelled Victoria’s air quality a level 4, meaning a moderate health risk is posed to residents.

The smoke forecast is predicting things could be getting worse soon as well, as a thick blanket of smoke is expected to cover most of the Island by Friday.

As the smoke hits the surface, health problems may become an issue with poor air quality.

“We are likely to see smoke make its way down to the surface over the next couple of days,” said Armel Castellan, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

When smoke begins to hit the surface, having a sore throat, itchy eyes, a mild cough, or a headache are common symptoms but can easily be managed, according to the BC Centre for Disease Control.

The BCCDC says if people begin to experience shortness of breath, severe cough, chest pain, dizziness or heart palpitations they should go see a doctor.

With a heatwave also settling in on the Island Thursday, Environment Canada says this smoke may help cool things off.

“Smoke coming in, even if it’s aloft, it’s blocking and it’s attenuating the rays of the sun,” said Castellan.

The weather agency says thick smoke can actually scatter or absorb UV and ultimately reduce UV levels. Oftentimes they say it can make about a 10-degree temperature difference.

Despite the heat and smoke, Islanders were getting out and about on Thursday and many were still seen riding bikes and out on the water.

For now, the mountains still aren’t visible and it may stay that way until early next week.

READ MORE: Doctors, air pollution experts forecast worsening health effects of wildfire smoke

Hannah LepineHannah Lepine

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