You’d be forgiven for thinking you’d woken up in a nuclear wasteland on Wednesday morning in Edmonton, where the sky was an eerie orange hue due to thick wildfire smoke that has drifted in from B.C.
The entire province of Alberta is under an air quality advisory. Alberta Health measures the air quality health index (AQHI) on a scale of one to 10, with the higher the number, the greater the health risk.
On Wednesday morning, large sections of the province were at a 10 or 10+ on the scale, including: Edmonton, Calgary, Airdrie, Bruderheim, Caroline, Elk Island, Genesee, Hinton, Redwater, and Bonnyville areas.
Watch below: As British Columbia declared a state of emergency because of the hundreds of wildfires burning in that province, Edmontonians woke up to an eerily orange and smoky sky on Wednesday. Fletcher Kent reports.
LISTEN BELOW: Chief meteorologist Jesse Beyer speaks with the 630 CHED Afternoon News about the air quality in Edmonton
Many regions were expected to reach a 10+ later Wednesday. A 10+ is considered “very high risk,” at which point Alberta Health suggests people avoid strenuous activities outdoors, and children and the elderly should also avoid outdoor physical exertion.
The poor air quality was expected to continue into Thursday.
The orange-brown haze is caused by smoke particles.
“Smoke in the air acts as a filter, scattering the shorter wavelengths, i.e. blue light and leaving the longer wavelengths behind (red, orange),” said an Instagram post by the TELUS World of Science.
“This process is called Rayleigh scattering and is the same reason why sunsets are often lovely warm colours: with the sun low in the sky, sunlight passes through a thicker layer of the atmosphere which serves as a filter. This process is dramatically enhanced with a thick blanket of smoke such as we had this morning leading to orange skies well after sunrise.”
The haze prompted many people to share photos on social media of the foreboding sky.
Watch below: Global meteorologist Jesse Beyer has the weather forecast for Edmonton and surrounding areas for Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018.