Smoky skies continue in Okanagan

Air quality expected to remain at a high risk throughout the Okanagan Monday night

UPDATE: 4 p.m.

While the provincial government’s air quality health index (AQHI) forecast clearer skies for Monday, the Okanagan is now expected to maintain a high level of smoke in the air.

Monday morning, AQHI was at a level seven (high) risk for south, central and north Okanagan regions, but that was expected to clear up to a level five (moderate) in south and central, while the North Okanagan was forecast to remain at a high risk.

But now the AQHI remains at a level seven throughout the Okanagan, and that is forecast to remain at high risk through the night for all three regions.

The AQHI is still expecting to see some clearer skies for the south and central regions, forecast at a level five for both areas on Tuesday, but the North Okanagan is forecast to remain at a high health risk.

Related: Smoke doesn’t hamper B.C. Day celebrations

Firefighters continue to battle over 100 wildfires throughout B.C., which have fed smoke into most of the southern two-thirds of the province.

While the smoke didn’t appear to hamper B.C. Day celebrations, there is some worry that the smoke will affect the show put on by the Snowbirds at Peachfest in Penticton this Wednesday.

Depending on the level of smoke, officials with the Snowbirds say the airborne aerobatics group can do either a “high show” or their “low show.”

Related: Snowbirds arrive in Penticton


UPDATE: 7 a.m.

It looks like the smoky skies in the Okanagan aren’t going to clear away in time for B.C. Day fun, but skies should lighten up as the day progresses.

As the day starts the provincial government’s air quality health index (AQHI) has the South, Central and North Okanagan regions rated at level 7 (high) risk, but in the South and Central, that is expected to drop to level five (moderate) and level four tomorrow.

The AQHI for the North Okanagan is forecast to remain at level 7 today and tomorrow.

Air quality has varied greatly since the beginning of August, even dropping as low as level 1.4 throughout the Okanagan on Saturday, Aug. 5. Smoke concentrations will vary widely as winds, fire behaviour and temperatures change.

The AQHI ranks from one to 10, though there is plenty of room above a level 10 (high) risk, with everything above 10 ranking at a “very high” risk.

Last week, Kamloops reached a level 49 on the table. They are also rated at level seven this morning but predicted to rise to level 11 (very high) today.

Related: Kamloops air pollution double the level that triggered 2015 ‘red alert’ in China