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

With heavy smoke hovering over Greater Victoria, Environment Canada has issued an air quality advisory.

According to the province, fire activity is expected to continue creating hazy conditions, which could worsen if activity increases later in the day.

As of this publication, the air quality rating for the Victoria area is at 3 which indicates a “low risk”, but is expected to drop further as more smoke blows in.

The province is reminding residents that while smoke is a natural part of the environment, exposure to it can have negative health impacts. Wearing a mask will not prevent

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.

“People with pre-existing health conditions, respiratory infections such as COVID-19, older adults, pregnant women and infants, children, and sensitive individuals are more likely to experience health effects from smoke exposure,” read the bulletin.

The smoky skies bulletin includes Sidney, Victoria, Saanich, Langford, Metchosin and the Southern Gulf Islands.

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

This smoky haze had many snapping photos of a red sun either rising or setting in the sky.

Why does the sun look so red? The short answer is it’s same reason the sky looks blue on a clear day – the absorption of sunlight. 

The smoke filters out shorter wavelengths of light, leaving mostly red and orange wavelengths to shine through and be seen by the naked human eye.

The sun is also dimmer, because the smoke scatters the light, a common phenomenon  for both wildfires and volcanic eruptions. 

But why is this bright red sun especially vibrant in the morning and evening? 

Sunset and sunrise are often most vibrant with smoke in the atmosphere because the red and orange hues are accentuated more, and in-turn more pronounced. 

And this weekend’s forecast looks like these smoky skies will continue to stick around. 

So make sure to have the camera out for tonight’s sunset!

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