Smoke

The skies over the Okanagan had an orange cast this week as the Valley was blanketed by smoke from Washington State.

Okanagan skies should offer a bleak throwback to summers past this weekend as smoke is expected across the Valley.

Wildfires in the U.S. are again forecast to send plumes of smoke into the Okanagan and the grey conditions could persist for a few days.

“The smoke is coming,” Environment Canada meteorologist Carmen Hartt said Friday afternoon. Vancouver and Victoria were already blanketed by grey skies and light winds were pushing the smoke inland.

An air quality rating of 4, or moderate, is predicted for Kelowna on Saturday. But the air quality reading specifically for smoke is higher, at 7, Hartt said.

On Friday, Vancouver and Victoria were already at 10+, the lowest air quality.

While this summer has been relatively smoke free in the Okanagan, despite big U.S. fires in California, Oregon and Washington, Hartt said this weekend’s skies should be reminiscent of the poor air quality conditions seen often in the summers of 2017 and 2018.

“Just like those years, the smoke this time should come and go over the next week or so, clearing when the weather patterns change but coming back again,” Hartt said.

Despite the smoke, Saturday’s forecast high is 31 C in Kelowna, just below the record for Sept. 12 of 32.3 C, set in 1987.