August 16, 2018 12:51 am
Updated: August 16, 2018 2:42 am

B.C. wildfires: smoke and fire everywhere, and hardly any rain in the forecast

Our Legislative Bureau Chief Keith Baldrey breaks down what the state of emergency declaration means, and how long it's expected to last.

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Wildfires are burning up and down the West Coast, leaving British Columbians under clouds of smoke with hardly a rainy day in the forecast.

Metro Vancouver is just one of a number of regions that’s been subject to an air quality advisory due to concentrations of fine particulate matter.

Coverage of B.C. wildfires on Globalnews.ca:

“A good rainfall that lasts for a couple of hours is going to take all the current smoke out of the atmosphere,” said Sarah Henderson, senior environmental health scientist at the BC Centre for Disease Control.

“As the rain falls, it just picks up those particles and brings them down to the surface, so it really cleans out the air nicely.”

Vancouverites shouldn’t hold their breath for rain to fall from the sky in the foreseeable future — “we do not have any rain in the forecast as far as we can see,” said Global BC meteorologist Kristi Gordon.

An orange haze descends upon Prince George, British Columbia, Canada, as smoke continue to drift over from the wildfires, August 15, 2018, in this still image taken from a video obtained from social media.

Mike Carr/via REUTERS

However, the Vancouver area isn’t solely dependent on rain to clear the smoke away, she added.

“Instead, we need a shift in the weather pattern,” Gordon said.

“The current weather pattern has been very stagnant with an upper atmospheric ridge over the province.”

Starting Wednesday, and continuing through Friday, the South Coast of B.C. is expected to see a shift to “more onshore flow,” which will “gradually push the smoke out of the area.”

Some haze is still expected, but conditions should be better on Thursday and Friday, she said.

READ MORE: What you need to know to survive the haze from B.C. wildfires

As for the rest of the province, there’s a chance of rain in the Kootenay area but not until the weekend.

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Gordon said the East Kootenays could see a 60 per cent chance of rainfall on Saturday and Sunday but the chance of rain is slighter in the West Kootenays.

“We are still days out so those expected conditions may very likely change,” she said.

Heavy rain could go a long way to alleviating the wildfire situation around B.C., but “it would have to hit a lot of terrain to make an impact since we have so many fires burning,” Gordon said.

Light rain could help too, depending on what kinds of conditions it comes with — should it come amid cooler weather that doesn’t carry any wind or lightning,” that too could make a big difference,” she said.

The Okanagan Valley remains under a special air quality statement because of wildfire smoke.

Jules Knox / Global News

In the meantime, Henderson had a few tips to help people cope with smoky conditions.

Air conditioners can help — especially with a strong filter — because they reduce the smoke particles in the air.

What she really recommended, however, was a portable air cleaner, a device that doesn’t cool a room but certainly cleans out what you breathe.

“All it does is draw in the surrounding air, pass it through a filter, and then push it back out to the room again,” she said.

“They can be really effective for keeping one or two rooms of your home comfortable when it’s really smoky outside.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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