Smoke still blankets the sky above Nanaimo in this photo taken on Thursday (July 9). The B.C. Ministry of Environment is predicting high-altitude smoke will keep skies hazy for at least the next several days.

Smoke still blankets the sky above Nanaimo in this photo taken on Thursday (July 9). The B.C. Ministry of Environment is predicting high-altitude smoke will keep skies hazy for at least the next several days.

Hazy skies from smoke expected to remain until weather changes

NANAIMO – Smoke drifting in from forest fires on the coast and interior of B.C.

Smoke from forest fires in Sechelt and the B.C. Interior that has clouded views and coloured sunrises and sunsets since Saturday will be part of life for the foreseeable future.

The smoke lifted overnight Tuesday, but B.C. Ministry of Environment is predicting high-altitude smoke will keep skies hazy for at least the next several days.

Earle Plain, environment ministry air quality meteorologist, said conditions have improved significantly over most south Island communities.

“At ground level, where people are exposed, those concentrations have come down pretty much from Port Alberni all the way down to Victoria,” Plain said.

A persistent, high-pressure ridge over the B.C.’s South Coast that has contributed to record-breaking high temperatures will have to break down to allow strong winds to form and flush smoke from the region, but there is no guarantee of that happening any time soon.

“There almost looks like there’s something in the works there for the weekend,” Plain said. “Right now we’re seeing some disturbances coming for the north coast and we might see that same kind of pattern slip in here over the weekend, which would be nice, but I guess that’s, like, five days away and you know what long range forecasts are like.”

The recent air quality improvement came from marine air flowing in from the south that pushed its way up the Island.

Plain said as long as that push continues and northeasterly outflow winds from the B.C. Interior don’t get stronger, the region should continue to experience good air near ground level.

“But you’re still going to see that smoke up above,” Plain said.

High-altitude smoke has helped keep daily high temperatures to more comfortable levels this week.