British Columbia

Change in weather could blow wildfire smoke out of B.C.

A change in the weather could blow away much of the smoke blanketing B.C., but things may get worse in some regions before they get better.

Fresh marine air blowing in from the Pacific expected to arrive by Thursday

Kayakers braved smoky weather on Howe Sound to paddle around Porteau Cove Sunday. Authorities are advising British Columbians to avoid exerting themselves in smoky conditions. (Catherine Rolfsen/CBC)

A change in the weather could blow away much of the smoke covering B.C., but things may get worse in some regions before they get better.

That's because outflow winds have been blowing smoke out to sea, according to Environment Canada Meteorologist Philippe-Alain Bergeron. 

"A lot of the smoke was actually pushed out sea ... and so that smoke is going to be coming back in ... But eventually we do get that fresh clean marine air," said Bergeron.

"It's going to start clearing tonight for the West Coast of the island ... and eventually make its way to the Lower Mainland tomorrow."

Interior clearing to take longer

The air quality in the southern Interior might actually deteriorate before things get better, he notes, but eventually the fresh marine air should reach the region.

Further north in the central and northern Interior of B.C., a different northwesterly wind is expected to blow much of the smoke out of those regions in the coming days.

Unfortunately for those living in the Cariboo Region that same wind will blow smoke from the fires west of Prince George downwind into the region, said Bergeron.

The W.R. Bennett Bridge was barely visible from West Kelowna because of smoke from wildfires early this week. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

Advisories continue for now

Air quality advisories issued on Aug 13 for much of the province have now been in place for nine days.

On Tuesday, Metro Vancouver's air quality advisory was expanded to include ground-level ozone. 

Concentrations of ozone are expected to reach advisory levels in eastern Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley, with high concentrations expected to persist until at least Wednesday.

"Ground-level ozone is not emitted directly into the air. It is formed when nitrogen oxides (pollutants emitted when fuels are burned) and volatile organic compounds (emitted from solvents) react in the air in the presence of sunlight," the advisory said.  

"The highest levels of ground-level ozone are generally observed between mid-afternoon and early evening on summer days."

Willows Beach in the Victoria suburb of Oak Bay was shrouded by heavy smoke on Monday. (Emily Brass/CBC)

Limited rain or lightning in forecast

Bergeron said it does not look like the change in the weather will bring lightning strikes that will spark new fires.  

"The potential for thunderstorms is there, but it is very limited," he said.

Temperatures for the rest of the week and through the weekend should be five to 10 degrees cooler with lingering showers, according to CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe.

"It is generally good news for the fire situation although by no means a soaking, fire-ending rain," she said. 

On Wednesday, the Bulkley-Nechako Regional District also issued an expanded evacuation order for the Trokelsen Lake fire. 

According to Ryan Turcot, a spokesperson for the B.C. Wildfire Service, 564 were wildfires burning across B.C., including 56 wildfires classified as significant because of their size or location to communities or human structures. 

The Island Lake Fire, shown last week, is one of a number burning in the Central Interior of B.C. (Submitted by Tracy Calogheros)