Here's why Metro Vancouver has been looking so hazy

Oct 4 2022, 8:49 pm

Editor’s Note: UPDATE: At around 4:30 pm on Tuesday, October 4, an Air Quality Advisory was issued for the Eastern Fraser Valley region affecting Agassiz, Chilliwack, and Hope.

Have you noticed that the skies are a bit hazy these days? According to an expert, the hazy conditions people are seeing are due to various conditions.

Senior policy analyst with Air Quality and Climate Change Metro Vancouver Marina Richter told Daily Hive that, in general, the amount of particulate matter in the air remains below the advisory threshold.

“As we know, the wildfire in Minnekhada Regional Park in Coquitlam continues to produce smoke,” she said.

“The combination of wildfire smoke, high humidity and low winds are contributing to hazy conditions throughout the region and somewhat elevated air particular matter at some stations,” she said.

The agency is continuing to monitor conditions and will be producing updates daily, and for now, it’s unclear whether the advisory threshold will be met on Tuesday.

As of 1:30 pm on Tuesday, October 4, the air quality in Metro Vancouver as measured on the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI) is at around a 3 or 4.

air quality

Metro Vancouver

air quality

Health Canada

“If there are concerns about people’s health, I would recommend they check the AQHI,” said Richter.

“In Canada, we use this metric to look at the scale with 10 categories; each category is associated with specific health messaging that’s been approved by the health authorities.”

According to Richter, even though the conditions look hazy, they’re looking at specific data and criteria to make the call to issue an advisory or not.

“Humidity itself generates hazy conditions,” said Richter. “That also might contribute to this visual impression that many people might get.”

“We have 31 air quality monitoring stations across the regions; we receive the data from those stations every hour, and we just look at the data and the decision is made based on that data,” she said.

As to whether or not an advisory is coming in the next few days, as the wildfire continues to burn and there’s no rain in the forecast, Richter says that it depends.

“The conditions are very variable,” she said.

“It depends on how the fire itself and the smoke from that fire behaves through that region. It also depends on the current temperature and wind conditions; right now we have low winds, which doesn’t help in terms of moving that smoke away from the region and also, the temperatures have been way above seasonal and this dry and warm weather is also kind of keeping the smoke within the region.”

Sarah AndersonSarah Anderson

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