Alberta wildfire haze reaches Metro Vancouver as smoke season comes early

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Weather Forecast: Tuesday May 28th
WATCH: Weather forecast for Tuesday, May 28 – May 28, 2019

Smoke from Alberta’s out-of-control wildfires has reached B.C.’s largest urban centre.

Global B.C. meteorologist Mark Madryga said satellite imagery shows the haze began rolling into the Metro Vancouver area on Monday and thickened on Tuesday.

The footprint of smoke from Alberta’s wildfires reached Metro Vancouver and much of the U.S. Pacific Northwest on Tuesday.
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“It flows down through southern Alberta, then in through the southern B.C. Interior and now into the Lower Mainland. Some can smell it here as well,” Madryga said.

WATCH: Alberta provides update on High Level wildfire

Click to play video: 'Alberta provides update on High Level wildfire'
Alberta provides update on High Level wildfire

Madryga said the haze is not expected to be overly thick but noted that it may become more visible by Tuesday afternoon.

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“There is a lot of marine cloud out there… that is masking the visual of the smoke somewhat,” he said. “The marine clouds will dissipate (Tuesday) afternoon.”

Metro Vancouver’s own air-quality metering stations show the region at an Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) risk rating of 2, or “low.”

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However, stations in North Delta, Surrey East and Chilliwack all recorded “high” concentrations of fine particulate matter on Tuesday morning.

Metro Vancouver air quality analyst Kyle Howe said air in the region remained within safe guidelines on Tuesday.

“Currently air quality is goods and fine particulate matter concentrations are below our ambient objectives and all of our stations within Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley Regional District,” he said.

“We will be looking at the situation looking at various smoke models to ensure that you know no further issues come up related to air quality and based on these models it does look like any smoke that is currently in the region should dissipate within the next few days.”

Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy air-quality meteorologist Gail Roth said officials will be reassessing air quality provincewide on Tuesday but have not issued any new advisories about the smoke across the southern part of the province so far.

“There is southward movement of the smoke,” she said. “The question is how high those concentrations become and whether or not a bulletin is warranted.”

Roth also said the ministry’s modelling suggests the haze should begin to dissipate by Wednesday.

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WATCH: New online tool tracks wildfire smoke

Click to play video: 'New online tool tracks wildfire smoke'
New online tool tracks wildfire smoke

Much of the province’s north remained under air-quality advisories on Tuesday.

The arrival of the smoke comes as northern Alberta continues to grapple with several out-of-control wildfires, including the monster 130,000-hectare Chuckegg Creek fire just outside of High Level that forced about 5,000 people from their homes.

Earlier this month, the B.C. Centre for Disease Control launched an information portal with tips on how to prepare for and get through smoky air conditions.

Experts have forecast a summer of high wildfire danger across Western Canada and have warned that climate change will continue to worsen fire seasons in the future.

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You can see an updated forecast on Canadian wildfire smoke here.

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