British Columbia

Unhealthy smoke to persist across southern British Columbia into Friday

Wildfire smoke from the U.S. will continue to significantly degrade air quality in the province with health risks registering in the moderately high to high range.

Castlegar forecast to have the worst air quality in the province Thursday with a risk reading of 10

Smoke obscures West Vancouver, bottom, and the downtown core of Vancouver. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Air quality across Metro Vancouver and southern British Columbia will remain poor through Thursday and into Friday because of wildfire smoke coming from the United States.

The provincial air quality index lists the health risks in the high to extremely high range. Castlegar is forecast to have the worst air quality in the province with a risk reading of 10.

Throughout the Okanagan, the air quality will return to nine on the index, according to the forecast. 

Summerland apple farmer Steve Brown says the persistently bad air is having an effect on him and his workers as they try to bring in the crop, leading to headaches, shortness of breath and a "hazy feeling."

"Unfortunately, [picking] is taking a little more time than we'd probably like given the smoke situation, but we cannot just press the pause button," he said. 

"I've told the crew if you need to take longer breaks or need to quit early or start earlier, do it, because, obviously, the health of our workers is the prime concern."

During "high" air quality readings of seven to 10, people, especially children and the elderly, are advised to reduce or reschedule strenuous activities outdoors.

Summer activities for some continue as paddleboarders make their way towards the William R. Bennett Bridge on Okanagan Lake in Kelowna B.C. on Aug. 18, 2018. (Jeff Bassett/The Canadian Press)

People are advised to avoid strenuous outdoor activity altogether when the readings reach the "very high" category of 10-plus. 

CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe said some relief may be in sight with an expected increase in air flow from the Pacific Ocean onto the South Coast.

"That means cooler temperatures, showery weather in the next several days, so look forward to improved air quality for the weekend," she said.

Stormy weather and heavier rain is in the long range forecast for next week in Metro Vancouver, said Wagstaffe.

With files from Daybreak South

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