Wind would bring wildfire smoke to Island, if not for the rain: expert

Wind would bring wildfire smoke to Island, if not for the rain: expert
THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Co-operative Institute for Research on the Atmosphere (CIRA) at the University of Colorado and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Wildfires and smoke are shown in British Columbia and Alberta in this satellite image taken Thursday, May 18, 2023.

An online wildfire smoke forecast website is predicting that a low pressure system would bring smoke over Vancouver Island, if not for one factor the model doesn’t consider.

Jalena Bennett, media spokesperson with the weather forecast research team at the University of British Columbia and BlueSky Canada, which runs, says currently the forecasting model used by the website doesn’t account for the rain.

“In its dispersion model, it’s not accounting for how rain will be affecting the smoke,” Bennett said in an interview with CHEK News.

“Of course, this type of [low pressure] weather system is associated with rain, and that is in a lot of weather models, but just how rain specifically can change the way smoke is, isn’t in our model currently.”

However, Bennett says accounting for rain is part of the active research by the team, and will hopefully be brought in by June.

People using currently will see wildfire smoke forecast to arrive over the North Island at 8 a.m. on May 23, blanketing the whole Island by 3 p.m.

But, Bennett says because of the recent or forecasted rain, it’s”unlikely” the Island will see that smoke.

“For today, looking at satellite imaging from right now, we see that there isn’t really much smoke in the area like our smoke forecast is predicting,” Bennett said.

“It’s probably unlikely that smoke will actually even reach Vancouver Island, and if it does reach Vancouver Island, it’s unlikely that it will be there in the concentrations that you’re seeing on the smoke forecast.”

RELATED: Air-quality expert says risks underestimated as wildfire smoke descends across B.C.

Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!