If you’ve noticed the smoke rolling through St. Albert in the past few days, you’re not alone: most of the province is still experiencing air quality issues.
But on the bright side, the bad air and sweltering heat should clear up over the weekend.
St. Albert registered as being at moderate risk on the province’s air quality health index this past week as wildfire smoke from B.C. billowed across Alberta. Air quality started getting worse Aug. 7, but the smoke is forecast to start clearing up as soon as Aug. 11.
Poor air quality, coupled with daytime temperatures in the high 20s to low 30s as well as warm night conditions prompted Environment Canada to issue a heat warning for the St. Albert area, as well as an air quality statement for municipalities across Alberta, B.C., Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Alberta Health Services issued its own province-wide health advisory on air quality on Aug. 8.
Brian Proctor, an Edmonton meteorologist with Environment Canada, said the air quality should improve after Sunday as a new weather system moves in.
He said smoke from B.C. has been coming across the province for the past three weeks but most of it stayed locked up high until a ridge of high pressure established itself last weekend.
“What that did was allow the flow to subside, so all those smoke particles that were prevalent in the atmosphere were allowed to settle down at the surface. That’s what’s really driven our air quality problems this week,” he said.
Predictions of dropping temperatures over this weekend herald the approach of a low pressure system developing up in the Mackenzie Valley, with a cold front expected to push through Alberta on Saturday.
“It’s going to be a real change to the weather – we’re going to go from these low- to mid-30s down to the 20s for tomorrow and into the mid-teens on Sunday before we start to rebound,” Proctor said.
As the cold front bears down on St. Albert, air quality should improve – although Proctor warns it’s possible the air quality will get a little worse behind the cold front before it picks up substantially.
As for the air quality advisories currently in place, Environment Canada recommends people stay indoors if they have breathing difficulties, and find a cool place with air conditioning. Opening windows could let in more bad air.
Alberta Health Services recommends in its advisory that people minimize outdoor physical activity in smoky conditions and monitor any symptoms they experience.