SMOKE RISK RISES IN CAL­GARY, COLD FRONT TO BRING RE­LIEF

Calgary Herald - - CITY+REGION - RYAN RUM­BOLT With files from Zach Laing RRum­[email protected]­media.com Twit­ter: @RCRum­bolt

Re­lief is near af­ter En­vi­ron­ment Canada is­sued an­other se­vere air qual­ity warn­ing Thurs­day for Cal­gary and other com­mu­ni­ties in south­ern Al­berta, just days af­ter a record for the num­ber of smoky days in the city was smashed.

As of Thurs­day evening, En­vi­ron­ment Canada rated Cal­gary’s air qual­ity at 10, con­sid­ered high risk, with the ex­pec­ta­tion for it to peak at a 10+ rat­ing some­time Thurs­day night. The rat­ing was ex­pected to reach 4 by Fri­day af­ter­noon, with im­proved air qual­ity in the fore­cast.

Ac­cord­ing to the air-qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing smart­phone ap­pli­ca­tion Sh**t! I Smoke, those who breathed the Cal­gary air Thurs­day in­haled roughly the equiv­a­lent of smok­ing seven and a half cig­a­rettes.

En­vi­ron­ment Canada me­te­o­rol­o­gist Dave Carlsen said Cal­gary’s poor air qual­ity Thurs­day was once again due to smoke from more than 550 rag­ing wild­fires in B.C., which re­duced vis­i­bil­ity and left a lin­ger­ing camp­fire smell across the city.

“The smoke plumes com­ing out of B.C. are re­ally large, re­ally dense smoke,” Carlsen said Thurs­day.

He said re­lief is on the way as a cold front with rain from the north is fore­cast to move into south­ern Al­berta on Fri­day.

Carlsen, who is from B.C., says he has been track­ing wild­fires for years and is shocked by the level of smoke.

“This has been the smok­i­est sum­mer in Cal­gary’s his­tory … so that would speak to the fact that there’s been a lot more (fires) this year than have been ob­served since ob­ser­va­tion be­gan.”

Dan Ku­lak, a me­te­o­rol­o­gist with En­vi­ron­ment Canada, said the air qual­ity in­dex is based on read­ings of ni­tro­gen, ozone and par­ti­cles of forest fire ma­te­rial in the air.

En­vi­ron­ment Canada gauges the in­dex by mea­sur­ing the num­ber of par­ti­cles which are 2.5 mi­crons (1/1,000 of a mil­lime­tre) in di­am­e­ter or less, Ku­lak said.

He said the high lev­els of mi­cro­scopic burned ma­te­rial in the air caused the in­dex to jump and posed the big­gest health con­cern to Cal­gar­i­ans on Thurs­day.

B.C. de­clared a state of emer­gency last week and Premier John Hor­gan met with fire crews in Prince George Tues­day, but thick plumes of smoke pre­vented his air­craft from land­ing in Burns Lake.

Of­fi­cials have said roughly 3,000 B.C. res­i­dents are un­der evac­u­a­tion or­ders and thou­sands more are on alert as crews work to manage hun­dreds of in­tense fires across the prov­ince.

Visit www.weather.gc.ca to stay up to date with all of En­vi­ron­ment Canada’s weather and air qual­ity ad­vi­sories.

GAVIN YOUNG

Cal­gar­i­ans on Thurs­day in­haled roughly the equiv­a­lent of seven and half cig­a­rettes, ac­cord­ing to an air-qual­ity mon­i­tor­ing smart­phone app.

DAR­REN MAKOWICHUK

Andrea, Ken, Chuck and Michael ride along Cres­cent Hill. The city’s air qual­ity was con­sid­ered high risk on Thurs­day.

DAR­REN MAKOWICHUK

Megan Turner and Richard Martin at Scots­man’s Hill. Smoke has left a lin­ger­ing camp­fire smell across the city.

GAVIN YOUNG

The Bow River was look­ing a lit­tle more smoky this week.

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