Jul 08, 2023

'Horrendous' smoke conditions appear in the eastern Fraser Valley

Metro Vancouver extends air quality warning as Hope and Chilliwack struggle with heavy smoke

The eastern Fraser Valley had the worst air quality in B.C. on Sunday after smoke was blown along the Fraser Valley from the interior and met stagnant air in and around Hope.

According to Environment Canada, the Air Quality Health Index in the eastern Fraser Valley was 10+ at 2 p.m. on Sunday. The AQHI system runs from one to 10.

By Monday morning the rating had fallen to seven – that is still considered to be a high risk to human health.

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Environment Canada expects the rating to fall to three by Tuesday.

Meanwhile, on Monday morning Metro Vancouver extended its special air quality warning that was issued on Aug. 25 and remains in effect in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley.

“Ten plus is where we were when the West Kelowna fire was going on (last week) and that’s just horrendous,” said The Weather Network meteorologist Jaclyn Whittal. “Hope and Chilliwack are maxed out in terms of air quality hazard.”

Whittal said that while there were no wildfires of note in or around the eastern Fraser Valley, a particular set of weather conditions led to the sudden and dramatic onset of bad air around Hope.

“We are seeing an offshore flow, so winds are coming from the Interior to the coast, rather than winds that predominantly come from the ocean inland,” she said.

The smoke being transported down the Fraser Valley was stalling around Hope and Chilliwack, where there was a stagnant high pressure system. Whittal said the high pressure system was at its strongest in that area compared to the rest of B.C.

The Air Quality Health Index in the Central Okanagan was eight on Sunday. In Metro Vancouver, it was four.

Whittal said an expected change in the weather pattern would improve the smoke conditions in the Fraser Valley and elsewhere on Monday.

She said that a low-pressure system had developed off the coast of B.C. and would begin moving inland, bringing rain and some wind and thunderstorms.

“It’s a shift from stagnant high pressure (over the Fraser Valley) to more of a transient jet stream,” Whittal said, adding that the rain would not be enough to bring Metro Vancouver’s rainfall for August close to average.

She said it had been an unusually dry past three months in Vancouver.

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