(Smokey skies/Central Pierce Fire & Rescue - Twitter)

After a week or so of clear skies, Victoria is swapping blue for grey again.

Environment Canada has issued a ‘Special air quality statement‘ for southern Vancouver Island on Thursday.

According to the statement, many regions of southern BC are being impacted or are likely being impacted by wildfire smoke over the next 24-48 hours.

The advisory is due to high concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) due to wildfires outside of the region.

The following areas are affected:

  • Greater Victoria
  • Vancouver Island
  • Southern Gulf Islands

As of this publication, the air quality rating for the Victoria area is at 4 which indicates a “moderate risk”.

During a wildfire, smoke conditions can change quickly over short distances and can vary considerably hour-by-hour.

Information about real-time air quality readings for Greater Victoria and the rest of Vancouver Island communities be found here.

The majority of the wildfire smoke is coming from both Interior British Columbia and Washington State, as well as smoke from the 32-hectare fire currently being held near Duncan.

Tips

  • Stay inside if you have breathing difficulties
  • Find an indoor place that’s cool and ventilated
  • Using an air conditioner that cools and filters air may help
  • If you open the windows you may let in more polluted air
  • If your home isn’t air-conditioned, consider going to a public place (library, shopping mall, recreation centre) that is air-conditioned
  • Avoid roads with heavy traffic
  • Avoid areas with wood smoke
  • Stay cool and drink plenty of water
  • “Manage” any asthma, chronic respiratory disease or heart failure
  • If symptoms continue to be bothersome, seek medical attention

And if you have chronic underlying medical conditions:

  • Stay in a cool, air-conditioned environment
  • Reduce indoor sources of pollution, such as smoking and vacuuming
  • Run an air cleaner. HEPA filters can help reduce indoor particulate levels
  • Take shelter in air-conditioned buildings

Heat Warning still in effect

Along with the air quality, southern Vancouver Island is still in the midst of a heatwave which is expected to remain until Sunday.

The ridge will bring high temperatures and dry conditions to an already blazing interior and could lead to worsening fires.

Temperatures in Victoria are not expected to be as extreme as an earlier heatwave in June.

However, data from Environment Canada forecasts a high of 31 degrees Celsius on Thursday could break a record historic high for August 12 of 29.3 degrees, set in 1992.

Thursday and Friday will see the peak of high temperatures around the low 30s, with Sunday cooling off to a high of 27.

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