Calgary's air quality rockets up to high risk again, as B.C. wildfire smoke drifts east

Calgarians' brief respite from the smoky skies that had them wheezing last week has already ended, as Environment Canada warns the air quality has worsened to "high risk" again.

Air Quality Health Index to reach 9 by Thursday, Environment Canada warns

Looking west from Shaganappi Trail at Bowness Road on Wednesday morning, the Canada Olympic Park ski jump is visible but the mountains are obscured by smoke from B.C. wildfires. (John Gibson/CBC)

Calgarians' brief respite from the smoky skies that had them wheezing last week has already ended, as Environment Canada warns the air quality has worsened to "high risk" again.

The special air quality statement for Calgary says smoke is again reducing visibility and will push the Air Quality Health Index up to very high values.

The index had worsened to 7 — high  risk — by 11 a.m. on Wednesday and was expected to reach 8 by Wednesday night and 10+ by Thursday.

It got as high as 10+ — the highest rating — last week as smoke from hundreds of wildfires to the west and south drifted over much of Alberta.

Downtown skyscrapers are barely visible through the smoke when looking east from Shaganappi Trail at Bowness Road in Calgary on Wednesday morning. Environment Canada says the Air Quality Health Index could reach 8, considered high risk, by Wednesday night. (John Gibson/CBC)

"Thick smoke over northern Alberta and the mountain parks will spread into central regions of the province this afternoon reaching as far south as Calgary," the alert said.

Environment Canada advises people with breathing difficulties to stay indoors.

"Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk," the alert said.

The smoke is expected to linger until Friday or Saturday. 

The temperature was expected to hit 30 in Calgary on Wednesday and 28 on Thursday, but as of noon Wednesday, Environment Canada was predicting a 60 per cent chance of showers Thursday night and rain on Friday.