UPDATE: Smoke sinks into Okanagan Valley

AQHI levels are higher in the south and central Okanagan today

UPDATE: 7 p.m.

Smoke continues to pour in to the southern half of the province, filling the valleys with eerie smoke turned orange by the hidden sun.

The increasing smoke has decreased the Air Quality Health Index rating for the region. Ratings throughout Southern B.C. are currently between a 4 (moderate health risk) and a 7 (high health risk).

The Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy, in collaboration with the Interior and Northern Health Authorities has once again amended the area covered by the Smoky Skies Bulletin.

Areas now covered under the bulletin include: 100 Mile, Arrow Lakes – Slocan Lake, Atlin, BC Peace River (North), BC Peace River (South), Boundary, Cariboo North (including Quesnel), Cariboo South (including Williams Lake), Chilcotin, East Columbia, East Kootenay, Elk Valley, Kinbasket, Kootenay Lake, McGregor, Nicola, North Columbia, North Thompson, Okanagan, Prince George, Shuswap, Similkameen, South Thompson, West Columbia, West Kootenay, Yellowhead, Yoho Park – Kootenay Park, Fraser Valley and Metro Vancouver.

Smoke concentrations will vary widely as winds, fire behaviour and temperatures change.

Smoke is reportedly wafting in from northern Calfornia, Oregon and Washington.

Check out this NASA timelapse below which shows the smoke moving into the Okanagan from south of the border.

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UPDATE: 12 p.m.

Air quality is getting worse in the Okanagan.

As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, smoke wafting in from northern Calfornia, Oregon and Washington had darkened the sky and made breathing easy a bit less likely.

The Air Quality Health Index rating is now a five, which is a moderate risk to health for those with health complications.

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Original story 8 a.m., Aug. 29. 2017

Smoke from wildfires has blanketed the Okanagan yet again.

This morning the Central and South Okanagan’s Air Quality Health Index rating was four, which means it’s a moderate health risk to infants, the elderly and people with health complications. It’s recommended those populations reschedule strenuous activities.

Over in the North Okanagan and in Kamloops conditions are better, with air quality being deemed a low risk.

The Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, in collaboration with the Interior and Northern Health Authorities has included the Okanagan in a smoky skies warning issued earlier this week.

They recommend avoiding strenuous outdoor activities. If anyone is experiencing difficulty in breathing, chest pain or discomfort, and sudden onset of cough or irritation of airways, they should call a health care provider.

Individuals may experience symptoms such as increased coughing, throat irritation, headaches or shortness of breath. Children, seniors, and those with cardiovascular or lung disease, such as asthma, are especially at risk. 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.

Visit airhealth.ca for information on how to reduce your health risk and your personal contribution to pollution levels, as well as for current and forecast AQHI values.